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Persons in Chinese History - Da Ji 妲己

Daji 妲己 or Daji was the consort of the last depraved ruler of the Shang dynasty 商 (17th to 11th cent. BC) , King Zhou 紂. Da jJi was a daughter of the Lord of Su 有蘇. Because the small country of Su had not delivered tributes, king Zhou attacked the Lord of Su with his army. In a hopeless situation, the Lord of Su offered king Zhou to present him with his beautiful daughter. The king accepted and withdrew his troops. King Zhou, fond of wine and women, fell in love with Da Ji to such an extent that he obeyed all her words. His first misdoing was the use of "frivolous music" (yinyue 淫樂), the dances of the northern mile (beibi zhi wu 北鄙之舞), instead of the "correct sounds" (zhengsheng 正聲) normally played at the court. The people suffered under the chaotic administration, and the feudal lords began to rebel. Da Ji thereupon suggested aggravating punishment in order to demonstrate the authority of the king. Each time Da Ji watched at an execution she burst out laughing. Da Ji is also said to have invented the punishment of the burning pillar (paolao zhi fa 炮烙之法). She also loved to see opened the heart of the king's most trusted minister and uncle, Bi Gan 比干, in order to see if his heart really had seven apertures (qi qiong 七窮). King Zhou had constructed a wine pond for her (jiuchi 酒池) and a meat forest (roulin 肉林), in which naked men and women pursued pleasure, much to the delight of Da Ji. When King Zhou's army was defeated by Ji Fa (the later King Wu of Zhou 周武王), Da Ji was executed, yet other sources say that she committed suicide. From the Southern and Northern Dynasties period 南北朝 (300~600) on, Da Ji was interpreted as the incarnation of a nine-tailed fox (jiuweihu 九尾狐), as can be attested in Li Luo's 李邏 commentary to the Qianziwen 千字文.

Sources:
Xue Hong 薛虹 (etc. ed. 1998). Zhongguo huangshi gongting cidian 中國皇室宫廷辭典, p. 819. Changchun: Jinlin wenshi chubanshe.
Chen Quanli 陳全力, Hou Xinyi 侯欣一 (ed. 1991). Houfei cidian 后妃辭典, p. 4. Xi'an: Shaanxi renmin jiaoyu chubanshe.
Yuan Ke 袁珂 (ed. 1985). Zhongguo shenhua chuanshuo cidian 中國神話傳說詞典, pp. 259-260. Shanghai: Shanghai cishu chubanshe.

Important Chinese of the...

age of mythology and early history (-11th cent. BCE)

Zhou period (11th cent.-221 BCE) and the state of Qin (3rd cent.-206 BCE)

Han period (206 BCE-220 CE)

age of division (220-581)

Sui, Tang and Five Dynasties periods (581-960)

Song, Liao and Jin dynasties (960-1279)

Yuan period (1279-1368)

Ming period (1368-1644)

Qing period (1644-1911)

Republican period (1911-1949)

People's Republic and Taiwan (since 1949)


December 29, 2011 © · Ulrich Theobald · Mail