Friday, September 14, 2007

Empress Orchid, Anchee Min

This is a fantastic insight into the world of China's politics and Rulers in the 1800's.

Orchid enters the Forbidden City at the tender age of 17 as a concubine of Emperor Hsien Feng. She is one of seven concubines, and needs to get him into her bed. She bribes the Chief Eunuch with the wedding gift she was given from the Emperor. Orchid manages to gain favour and she ends up helping the Emperor with his work. The chief of council and the chief eunuch are not pleased as she will not let the Emperor be dictated to, to them she should stay in the bedroom and not give her opinions.

Orchid eventually gives the Emperor a son, but as Orchid is only a concubine the Empress Nuharoo takes over as mother to the royal child. Life is upsetting for Orchid, she tries to raise her son to know proper values, but her word is over ruled by Nuharoo. Upon the early death of the Emperor at the young age of 30, Tung Chih is declared Emperor. However, he is only 5 years old! Orchid and Nuharoo become Regents, guiding him in his decisions.

This is based on the facts of that time, just Google Hsien Feng! Orchid has three names, the others being Tzu-Hsi and Lady Yehonola, these are also found on Google!

Well worth a read, full of facts but written in an easy format that is pleasing to read!