The modern concept of a princess conjures up the image of someone who presents herself as delicately pretty. But the princess we are introducing today was in fact a female battlefield hero. Her name was Princess Pingyang and she was the daughter of the founding emperor of the Tang Dynasty.
In A.D. 617, when her father rebelled, Princess Pingyang disguised herself as a man and within three months built up an army of between 40,000 and 50,000 soldiers. She became a general and commanded armies in battle. Relying on peoples’ martial arts skills and resourcefulness, she successively captured several places of strategic importance and earned great merit.
In A.D. 618, Princess Pingyang was tasked with guarding Weize Pass to defend the capital, Chang’an.
Once, the rebel army came and attacked when there weren’t enough troops present to defend the pass. Princess Pingyang requested reinforcements to strengthen the defensive position. She came up with a brilliant plan. She ordered the soldiers inside the pass to harvest a lot of the grains, set up cooking pots, and make rice water, which was poured into the ravine outside the pass.
The second day, the rebel army came to carry out a raid and thought that the rice water in the ravine was horse urine. They believed that reinforcements had come and so did not attack. This has been memorialized in the Chinese saying: “Rice water causes enemy forces to retreat.” Because of Princess Pingyang’s defense, the name of the pass was changed from Weize Pass to Ladies’ Pass (Niangzi Pass)
Princess Pingyang had military merit. Sadly, six years later, she passed away. The grieving Emperor Gaozu of Tang decided to bury her with a military ceremony. Some thought that this did not conform to the rules of etiquette. Emperor Gaozu said: “In the past, Princess Pingyang would always go into battle and give military counseling. Since when was there such a remarkable woman? Why can’t I bury the Princess with a military ceremony?”
Princess Pingyang became the only woman in China to receive a burial with a military ceremony and is a legendary Goddess of War!
Translated by Fu Ming