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.
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
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.