cixi, the dragon lady

Cixi – The Dragon Lady

Image Credit: WikiMedia Commons, via CC

Not very long ago there was a forbidden city, a royal palace in China. Located in the center of what we call Beijing today. This palace was a home to kings and queens for almost 500 years. The strangest queen that ever ruled from the forbidden city got its name “The Dragon lady”. Her real name was Tz’u-hsi or Cixi. Everyone was afraid of her. She lived in the Forbidden city with an army of servants. Anybody who tried to enter the palace without permission got punishment. After the emperor’s death, she supposedly helped her son Tongzhi Emperor rule China. In reality it was her that was the unofficial empress of for 47 years, from 1861 to her death in 1908.

People who were allowed to enter the forbidden city were taken to a special room. In that room, there was a silk screen behind which lay a great red chair shaped like a dragon. The lady empress sat there hidden form the visitors. The visitors had to show the utmost respect to the empress; they had to lie flat on their stomachs with their foreheads touching the floor. If they were not in this position, they could not speak to her.

Her voice resonated from behind the screen. At the end of her commands, there was always a warning,”Hear and Obey.”

While she was a strict leader, she liked to dress up. She wore beautiful silk robes and pearl necklaces. Her fingernails were as long as her hands protected with gold shields so that they did not break. She was also very fond of birds. She kept huge birdcages as big as rooms and when she sang in her lovely voice that the birds would come and perch on her outstretched arm.


Before her death, she commanded that no other woman should be allowed to rule after her. Her command was heard and obeyed. After her, the dynasty rule collapsed, and the republic of China formed.

She was indeed the last Empress.

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