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Women of the Conquest DynastiesGender and Identity in Liao and Jin China$
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Linda Cooke Johnson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780824834043

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824834043.001.0001

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Warrior Women

Warrior Women

Six Warrior Women
Women of the Conquest Dynasties

Linda Cooke Johnson

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter examines the lives of warrior women, focusing on the Liao empresses Yingtian, Chengtian, and the Jin-dynasty bandit-leader Yang Miaozhen. During both the Liao and Jin periods, women were warriors, but their activities varied according to cultural identity. While Kitan and Jurchen women led armies and fought battles, women with Chinese names defended their honor in more personal ways. Drawing on a variety of sources such as the Liao, Jin, and Song dynastic histories and unofficial histories, as well as inscriptions collected in the Quan Liao wen and various secondary accounts, this chapter explores the activities of Empress Yingtian, Empress Dowager Chengtian, and Yang Miaozhen as warrior women. It shows that all three women exhibited selected aspects of Han Chinese attitudes and attainments; they proved to be exceptionally skillful cultural mediators and combined administrative and literary skills derived from Han Chinese precedents with steppe culture and military leadership.

Keywords:   warrior women, empresses, Yingtian, Chengtian, Yang Miaozhen, cultural identity, Han Chinese, steppe culture, military leadership, literary skills

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