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Cixi (the Empress Dowager Tz'u-hsi, aka Pinyin Cixi aka Hsiao-Ch'in aka Hsien Hang-hou)


An olive skinned woman not towering more than 5 feet. Her skin is as white as her heritage will allow. It is a sign of prosperity to not have to work in the sun. Her feet are bounded to that of a child's. This is meant to make her taller and beautiful. She walks with an agonizingly slow pace. Her hands are soft and fingers long, another sign of great wealth and fortune. Her face is very skinny and smooth. Her lips are thin and taunt. Her nose, slightly taller than that of her fellow countrymen. She was blessed from birth with a tall forhead and large eyes. In life, her hair was a long sleek black.


Cixi was born in Peking on November 29, 1835. As a young girl, she was wed to the Hsien-feng emperor where she served as his lowest-ranking concubine. When Hsien-feng died in 1862, Cixi's son, being the only male heir to the throne, became emperor at the young age of six. Cixi set up a Regent to rule over China. During these early years, Cixi was very active in revitalizing China. She ordered the end of many rebellions that tore China apart. Schools were created for the study of foreign languages, mordern customs service was instituted, Western-style arsenals were constructed, and the first Chinese foreign service office was installed. Internally, she sought to end governmental corroption and recruit men of talent.

When the young emperor reached maturity, the Regent was terminated. Cixi, however, had masterminded making the emperor flambouyant, caring little of government. Behind the Golden Throne, Cixi still held the power. When the young emperor married and his wife had a son, Cixi felt threatened and ordered the baby to be killed.

The young emperor and his wife died mysteriously soon after. Cixi, with the help of the army, violated succession laws and placed her three-year-old nephew, whom she adopted, onto the throne. Again, Cixi was Regent.

By 1889, Cixi resigned nominally from the government. She retired to a summer home Peking and left the government up to the the Emperor. In 1898, however, China was shockingly defeated in the Sino-Japanese War. The emperor began to fall under the influence of reformers who wanted to change China. Many of the more conservative governmental officials went to Cixi for help. She returned to the throne and reinstated her power over her adopted son. He was placed under house arrest. She then backed those encouraging the anti-foreign Boxer rebels.

By the end of the Boxer Rebellion, the foreigners overtook Peking and the Forbidden City. This was the first time in history that any foreigners entered the City without the consent of the Emperor. Cixi and her entourage fled the city, only to return when she accepted a humiliating peace treaty. From then on, the throne was nothing more than a puppet.

In the last years of her life, Cixi began to willingly instate the very reforms that she had forbidden her adopted son to make. On her deathbed, she ordered her adopted son to be poisoned so that he might not regain the throne. She then placed another 3 year old boy on the throne of Emperor. This boy, known as Xuantong (Herny Puyi) would be the last emperor, ousted from his position only three years after the Empress's death.

Cixi in life was very shrewd. She worked her way up from the lowest position to the head of the group. It was not beneath her to manipulate and sabotage those around her that she may remain in power. She studied as much as she could about law, government, and foreign policies. She had learned some English and Japanese along the way to aide her in dealing with the foreigners. By the time of her death, Cixi was very tired and angered. Pride for her means a lot and she lost it all at the end of the Boxer Rebellion. But even on her deathbed, she had hoped to once again be in command. Her placement of yet another child emperor only signifies her reluctance to surrender her powers.


Cixi is fluent in Mandarian Chinese. She can also speak some broken English and Japanese. Due to the nature of her life, she learned a great deal about diplomacy. She is a lover of arts and is use to the aristocratic way of life.

Personality Questions

Would your character prefer a game of chess or a game of football?
Cixi would prefer chess because it gives her ultimate control over her "men". She would also enjoy how ordered and structured how things upon the board run.
If your character found a wallet in the street, would they return it?
Cixi has no need for money but now not turn down a free offer. If the wallet belonged to someone she needed to befriend for her social progression, she would return it. If it belonged to an enemy, she would use it as bait. If she didn't care either way about the person, she would probably take what fancied her and tossed the rest on the street for the next person to find.
Would your character be more likely to be the life of the party or to quietly observe the goings-on?
Cixi won't be the "life of the party"; though she'd strive to be the center of attention. This could very well mean being quiet and aloof depending upon the party.
Would your character be found on the top of a pyramid of people or on the bottom?
Definitely on the top.
Pretending to be your character, rank the following statements in order of truth. Leave out statements that are false about your character.
a. Other people listen to what I say d. I notice my surroundings e. I love to read -- as she is very cultured and reading was a favorite pastime of those in court.