Talk:Empress Dowager Cixi

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Former featured article candidateEmpress Dowager Cixi is a former featured article candidate. Please view the links under Article milestones below to see why the nomination failed. For older candidates, please check the archive.
Article milestones
November 22, 2005Featured article candidateNot promoted
On this day...Facts from this article were featured on Wikipedia's Main Page in the "On this day..." column on September 21, 2004, September 21, 2005, and September 21, 2006.

Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment[edit]

Sciences humaines.svg This article was the subject of a Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment, between 10 March 2020 and 4 May 2020. Further details are available on the course page. Student editor(s): NikeaBanks. Peer reviewers: Lrichar, HighQueenErin.

Above undated message substituted from assignment by PrimeBOT (talk) 20:34, 16 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Picture Caption[edit]

Hi all, I would like to point your attention to the picture of Cixi. Can anyone please verify the source? I don't think that blob of red near her lips is supposed to be there. On closer inspection the different shades of red are inconsistent. There are better portraits of Cixi in the Chinese wiki article. Please double check the source, and if there does appear to be a problem, update with a better portrait. Krussy (talk) 13:47, 14 February 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Empress Cixi was never been Empress Tzu-hsi..They are different persons. Cixi was Queen Mother Elizabeth Bowes Lyon The Comtesse of Strathmore...reff her state visit in China 1967 A chef who reminiscences Empress Cixi..The Comtesse of France. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:59, 30 April 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

However, Tzu Hsi is actually her rather more famous Chinese name - Cixi is only her Manchu one. At least that's the name used in 'the Story of the World' by Suzan Weiss-Bauer. If it's the common one, I think that the page should be moved to it. Ari (talk) 14:31, 3 June 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hyphenation and splitting names[edit]

Highshines, please stop splitting names and inserting hyphens. It is Cixi, not Ci Xi or Ci-xi. This is not fun any more.--Niohe 02:27, 12 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

To continue on the above, do not change titles of emperors and other monarchs. Tongzhi Emperor is the conventional rendering, we should avoid Emperor Tong-zhi or other forms that Highshines and his/her socks have inserted in the text. For more information, see Wikipedia:Naming_conventions_(Chinese)#Names_of_emperors.--Niohe 17:51, 17 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Agreed —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:37, 24 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I have added a clean-up tag to this article, which desperately needs some editing. This article is image-heavy, full of anecdotes and unnecessary minutiae regarding the empress dowager. I have deleted a number of almost identical images from the article. I hope that we can make this article readable again through concerted - and serious - efforts. Can I ask editors to add edit summaries to their edits, so we can keep track of changes.--Niohe 20:06, 18 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I agree it needs a good going-though. I've got a few weeks available over the New Year, so I'm keen to give it a go. I'm not interested in changing the content of the article, though sometimes it does waffle on and it would be nice if it got more to the point. Feedback is more than welcome. If you disagree with anything I do, let me know and I'll undo it. Ka-ru 07:07, 19 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Great!--Niohe 13:15, 19 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I've started to tidy up sections, but the biggest change I've made was to move the sections on Names and on Historical Opinion to the end of the article. Having them in the middle seemed strange to me as they interrupted the flow of Cixi's biography. I have them now escentially as footnotes at the end of the article. I find the section on Names interesting, though at the moment it is quite long. User Ville1995 deleted the section on Historical Opinion, but I put it back, based on the fact that the article should mention briefly the alternate view, and its better to put it in a section at the end than have it continously pop up throughout the article. This way the main part of the article can remain as the current accepted view. Again, I'm keen to get some feedback to make sure what I'm doing is acceptable. (Its a lot more work than I realised it would be, and I haven't even started in the article proper yet!) - Oh, and there are no references throughout the entire article! I've added 2 to start it off, but I have a very limited library. It would be nice if we can get the details of the article fully referenced. Ka-ru 06:17, 20 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think it looks great thus far, thanks for doing this!--Niohe 14:31, 20 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Small problem regarding one of the pictures. Highshines has labelled the image in "Historical Opinions" as a portrait by Katherine Carl. Highshines has uploaded the image as "public domain, artist's life plus 100 years". Katherine Carl died in New York in 1938, so it would appear this image is in violation of copyright and should be removed. I've left a note on Highshines talk page for an explaination. Ka-ru 12:01, 21 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I would be very interested to hear how Highshines responds to that, if at all. He/she is not very communicative, as you may have noticed.--Niohe 14:31, 21 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Okay, I've got another question. I've just cleaned up the section called "Palace coup" and was looking at the next when I noticed an inconsitant name (there have been several). In one section, the palace coup is called "Xinyou" and in the next it is called "Yinyou". Which is correct? Ka-ru 00:54, 22 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That brings an end to my part of the clean-up. I hope it at least now reads more clearly and sounds more consistant. The next thing that would be worth doing is going back and referencing all the "facts". Ka-ru 00:30, 28 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Final resting place section[edit]

The location of this section is to clearly set out the events of Cixi's life in a logical order. If follows her life, from entry into the Forbidden City until her death and burial. After that are 2 additional sections based on the names she was given (covering her whole life) and historical opinion, which is what has happened since her death. I see this as a logical way of setting out the article. If you disagree, we can discuss it here. Ka-ru 03:46, 29 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Dowager Empress, Empress Dowager, Dowager Cixi[edit]

OK, I went through this article a couple of times, changed "dowager empress" or "dowager" to the correct form "empress dowager" whenever appropriate and deleted unnecessary reiterations of "empress dowager". Now User:Highshines has started to resinsert different variants of the title again in a number of "minor" edits. I don't have time doing this all over again, please explain why you are doing this.--Niohe 00:08, 4 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Cixi is an empress before she is a dowager. The word "dowager" is used to describe what kind of "empress" she is. Thus, "dowager" is an adjective-noun used before "empress" to form the phrase "Dowager Empress". How can you support your claim that "empress dowager" is the correct form? I have seen many articles about Cixi with the phrase "Dowager Empress":

etc... Highshines 01:14, 4 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

None of these sources are scholarly resources, and at least one of them is written in questionable English. Is that the standard we should aim at?
Moreover, "dowager" is not an adjective, but a noun, which "empress" qualifies. I'm not even sure if "dowager empress" is correct English, but regardless of that, if you read scholarly works on Chinese history you will find that Cixi is referred to as "empress dowager" and nothing else. For instance, have a look at Immanuel Hsü's The Rise of Modern China, Jonathan Spence's The Search for Modern China or John K. Fairbank's China: A new history. Even Sue Fawn Chung, whom you quote, calls her empress dowager.--Niohe 01:56, 4 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

But a question rises: should she be regarded as an empress or a dowager? Highshines 04:49, 4 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I'm not sure what your question means. Before the demise of the Xianfeng Emperor, she was of course one of his consorts. Following his death, she was elevated to one of the empresses dowager. But surely you knew that? I see no point in using the term "dowager" by itself, since that term is almost never used to refer to Cixi.
I hope this doesn't sound sarcastic, but I think you need to sit down and read some academic histories in English like the ones I quoted above, keeping a good English dictionary (like the OED) at hand. We have to stick to what is common English usage and not invent new terms all the time.--Niohe 05:07, 4 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Anyway, you cannot call a box which contains pencils a "box-pencil". In the same way, you cannot call an empress whose husband has deceased an "empress-dowager". Instead, a box which contains pencils should be called a "pencil-box", and an empress whose husband has deceased should be called a "Dowager-Empress". Although you have mentions a lot of sources which named her "Empress Dowager", but it does not automatically deny that "Dowager Empress" is incorrect. It is still possible that both ways of naming her are correct. Please be aware of the fact that your way of naming her is not even grammatically correct. The examples I have provided were just hastily searched on the internet, but I still remember reading a lot of scholarly, native English-speaking writers who referred to her as "Dowager Empress" both in texts and photo captions, such as the book "The Last Emperor". Look at the Wikipedia article about the term Queen Dowager, and you will see that it says A Queen Dowager or Dowager Queen is a title or status generally held by the widow of a deceased king. That demonstrates that both ways of naming Cixi ("Empress Dowager" and "Dowager Empress") would be acceptable. And since the title "Dowager Empress" makes more grammatical sense, I still prefer to use the term "Dowager Empress" to name Cixi. Highshines 00:29, 5 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Just my two cents here, and keep in mind I'm not a student of Chinese culture. However, Empress Dowager (aside from being the convention apparently uniformly adopted on Wikipedia, q.v. Empress Dowager and its related links - which might be a better place for this discussion, since Cixi wouldn't be the only one affected) would seem to be the correct form. To my admittedly Anglo-centric ears, it seems to follow the same pattern as most titles: the main title, and a qualifier of some sort. Examples being president pro tempore, queen consort, queen mother, minister plenipotentiary, heir presumptive, and perhaps most importantly due to its similarity, queen dowager. Now, the reverse order can sometimes be seen in some of those, but far and away, the standard English convention (and current Wikipedia standard) seems to favor the use of "Dowager Empress". --Xanzzibar 00:52, 7 January 2007 (UTC)

And a quick Google comparison: Empress Dowager gets 241,000 hits, while Dowager Empress gets only 74,900. I'll also add that both forms make grammatical sense - so arguments either way are somewhat futile. The heart of the issue here is usage and propriety. --Xanzzibar 01:37, 7 January 2007 (UTC)

"Dowager Empress Cixi" is a correct title. Can you deny it? Although it is somewhat less common, can you say it is wrong? There is no need to spend so much time reversing every single "Dowager Empress" into "Empress Dowager" like User:Niohe did. If "Empress Dowager" is grammatically correct, why don't we call a pencil-box a "box-pencil"? Also, this is an article about a Chinese empress. According to the Chinese language, the widow of a deceased emperor is named "太后", which matches the English translation of "Dowager Empress". Since both ways ("Empress Dowager" and "Dowager Empress") are acceptable according to English usage, why shouldn't we name Cixi a "Dowager Empress" since she is a Chinese empress? I'll name Cixi as "Dowager Empress" is no one presents a valid reason why it is unacceptable. Highshines 05:55, 7 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Specious analogies aside, I didn't say it was right or wrong, or which form should be used. I was giving some thoughts on the matter, noting that the more common usage (something Wikipedia tries to use as a guideline for naming conventions) seems to support Empress Dowager, and that Empress Dowager seems more natural to me (just an observation - correctness not being a factor there). As far as translating "太后" - I have very little knowledge of Chinese transliteration, and can offer no meaningful comments in that regard.
However, consistency is important. If every other Wikipedia article uses "Empress Dowager", and this one inexpicably uses "Dowager Empress", it breaks uniformity. Although it's not always realized in every article, that sort of consistency is something that we're supposed to strive for, and is why I suggested the Empress Dowager article or another venue might be the better place for this discussion.
Some guidelines that might be helpful in hammering this out would be the general Chinese Manual of Style, and the Chinese history standards. Remember, before any changes of this sort are made (specifically, changes that will cause this article to use a different naming convention than any other Empress Dowager article), you should strive to build a Consensus --Xanzzibar 06:23, 7 January 2007 (UTC)
As a side note, please try to think out your thoughts ahead of time. It can be difficult to make a cogent reply when you keep rapidly updating your response in bits and pieces, and it leads to edit conflicts (which have caused me twice now to accidentally truncate your responses). There's no rush, so just take the time to get all your thoughts together. --Xanzzibar 06:27, 7 January 2007 (UTC)

Thank you. Can you show me which articles use "Empress Dowager"? We could just establish a consistency among Chinese royalty. Highshines 06:41, 7 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The Empress Dowager and Grand Empress Dowager articles link to many, but a site-specific Google search would probably be more useful to you. If you're interested in effecting any large changes, the Chinese Manual of Style links from my previous post would be good places to discuss them and build a consensus. --Xanzzibar 06:51, 7 January 2007 (UTC)
Whether both "dowager empress" and "empress dowager" are correct is in many respects not relevant to this discussion. What we have, within the article, is inconsistancy in the name. One should be chosen and we should stick to it. It serves no purpose to have both, other than to confuse the reader. The 3 books I have handy all use the term "empress dowager" (Keith Laidler, Bamber Gascoigne and Sterling Seagrave), and none of them use "dowager empress". This article is titled "Empress Dowager Cixi", and there is an article on Empress Dowager which in no place mentions an alternate title of "Dowager Empress". All other Empress Dowagers featured in Wikipedia are given the title "Empress Dowager", none are given the title "dowager empress".
So while "dowager empress" may be grammatically correct, and a valid form of the translation from Chinese, it is NOT the English literature standard, nor the Wikipedia standard. The whole point of having standards is to allow readers to get a consistant message from the articles. If you believe we should completely remove "Empress Dowager" and replace it with "Dowager Empress", you will need a better argument than "since both ways are acceptable according to English usage, why shouldn't we name Cixi a "Dowager Empress" since she is a Chinese empress". She is not a Chinese empress, she is the "Empress Dowager Cixi" according to ENGLISH literature and Wikipedia standards. If you want to change the standard, perhaps you should raise the topic with the Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_China. Until then, I'll continue to revert the article to the standard naming convention. Ka-ru 13:44, 7 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Added a request to the Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_China page for discussion on the naming standards. We should arrive at a standard and stick to it. The request I added to the Project China page is as follows:
Would like a little help resolving an issue on the naming standards for "Empress Dowager". One particular editor insists that the term "Dowager Empress" is just as valid as "Empress Dowager", and regularly changes any reference to the name of Empress Dowager Cixi to "Dowager Empress Cixi". It would be good to get some feedback on whether we should: a) leave the references as "Empress Dowager" as seems to be the standard both in English literature and in Wikipedia, b) decide to change to "Dowager Empress" and change all the relevant Wikipedia articles and names, or c) allow this one article on "Cixi" to have a mix of different terms, while other related articles continue to use "Empress Dowager". Ka-ru 14:15, 7 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Not only did I say that the term "Dowager Empress" is just as valid as "Empress Dowager", in the grammatical sense, "Dowager Empress" is even more valid than "Empress Dowager". Highshines 16:18, 7 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I cannot either refute or confirm your claim, as I simply do not know enough about it. You may very well be correct, but the fact still remains that "Dowager Empress", even if it is "more correct", is not the common usage in English texts nor is it in Wikipedia. What we need to do is get a common agreement on what should be the common usage on Wikipedia. If we switch to "Dowager Empress", we will have to go through all of the other articles and change them as well. I'm assuming they were originally written as "Empress Dowager" for a good reason, and the fact that the books I have on the topic all use "Empress Dowager" seem to confirm this. What I want to do is get several opinions from people who do know more about it, then we can make an informed decision, rather than just change ahead on what might be the wrong path. Let's leave the article as is until we get some sort of agreement. Ka-ru 17:02, 7 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
There is absolutely no doubt that empress dowager is the most common term. I just searched JSTOR for the exact phrases "empress dowager" and "dowager empress," and located 691 scholarly articles using the former and 269 for the latter. Furthermore, whereas most of the articles using "empress dowager" almost all are about Cixi, the articles using the term "dowager empress" covered a wide range of other topics, such as Russian czars and Greek aristocrats. I hope this can end the discussion which term is the most common one.--Niohe 18:35, 7 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

We all know that "Empress Dowager" is more common than "Dowager Empress". There's no need to keep saying that. My discussion is not which term is more common. My argument is that the term Dowager Empress possesses a more correct grammar and a greater relevance to the materials introduced. If it is decided that all "Empress Dowager" be changed to "Dowager Empress" to achieve uniformity and consistency, I can perform this work all by myself. You don't have to worry about performing this tedious work. Highshines 19:48, 7 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Doesn't Wikipedia place correctness above commonness? If it places commonness above correctness, what kind of encyclopedia is it? Highshines 19:59, 7 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Empress dowager" is a discrete phrase. It has no grammar of its own, so it cannot be grammatically correct or incorrect.—Nat Krause(Talk!·What have I done?) 20:28, 7 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
To build on the above, the online dictionary,, states "dowager" as meaning "a woman who holds some title or property from her deceased husband, esp. the widow of a king, duke, etc. (often used as an additional title to differentiate her from the wife of the present king, duke, etc.): a queen dowager; an empress dowager." This dictonary cites several grammatical sources, and clearly states the phrase "Empress Dowager". So the term "Dowager" is added to the end of the term "Queen" or "Emperess" to differentiate the Dowager from the current Queen or Empress. So I think we can dispense with this whole "more grammatically correct" argument, as it is clearly not a correct argument.
So, in view of the fact that:
a) the more common usage is "Empress Dowager",
b) this is a noun phrase and therefore has no grammar of its own,
c) dictionary sources use the phrase "Empress Dowager",
d) academic study in this area uses the term "Empress Dowager"
...then there really is no argument left. the correct term to use, and the one that has already been established by Wikipedia (and therefore conforming with other academic writings) is "Empress Dowager". Ka-ru 20:59, 7 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What's in a name? American and Australian historians use Empress Dowager almost exclusively, as any search engine will show. Furthermore, all refer to Cici, not the half-dozen others attributable to reaching, fabrication or a desire to obfuscate by drowning in detail the identity of the person in question. What perturbed me here is the evidence that this page is patrolled and altered by zealots to the detriment of those searching for factual content. I had hoped to find the date of an anti-opium edict THE Empress Dowager issued in 1906 (Peking Daily News, July 24, 1912). Herbert Hoover left a volume of information on the Boxer Rebellion (he was there) which could be gleaned from his papers reproducible at will. Judging from the grammar, few who edit the content are native writers of English (who could more easily edit content in other languages). Net result is that scholars can expect effort invested here to vanish down a memory hole. So... bye. translator (talk) 21:29, 22 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Quoting Sources[edit]

From what I understand, Wikipedia standards require the quoting of sources (no original research allowed). Apart from the 3 or so references I added recently, this article has none at all. Technically speaking, the whole article could be legitimately removed, but that, of course, would be a bit silly. It would be nice if we could get some more references to actual documents so this article can become more stable and have a good NPOV. Any help in marking parts of the article requiring reference, or adding of references, would be appreciated. Ka-ru 16:42, 31 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Besides lacking verified sources, it often reads like a poorly written high school text book, occupying itself often with minute and irreleveant personal gaffes, often seeming to take a "Let them eat cake!" attitude towards the Empress, and ignoring the larger systemic forces that allowed for the Empress to despose the Emperor, and attempt (poorly might I add) to buffer China from invasion with neo-confucian ideals, as opposed to concrete military and technological might. SiberioS 09:07, 8 February 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

My Mar 30/07 Edits[edit]

  • I removed the statement "Empress Dowager Cixi now feared that Prince Gong, having become very powerful himself as a result of the coup, would become a "Second Sushun" since it was not referenced and there is no evidence in Edward Behr's book of this - she easily had him removed from power through manipulation when she wanted to.
  • Ci'an did not spend any time ruling according to Behr, and deferred entirely to Cixi, so I changed the "Co-Regency" section.
  • Behr describes the Palace Coup somewhat differently so I changed it as such, since the previous entry had no references. P. Moore 03:23, 31 March 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Good work adding references. Thanks. If you see something that is unreferenced and you have referenced information, be bold!. The only thing to keep in mind with this particular topic is that there are a lot of varying resources that often contradict each other. Some sources claim she was nothing short of a living monster, and others that she was the victim of a rumour and smear campaign to paint her as a monster as a result of confuscion distrust of women in power and as a part of the whole general era of attempted reform and the fall of the emperial system. Its worth, if you can, trying to check more than one source. Just because one book doesn't mention something, it doesn't mean its not mentioned in another. This, of course, brings us back to the whole referencing thing. If you see something that contradicts your book and its unreferenced, change it and add your reference. If you see something that looks odd to you based on your book, add a "citation required" tag. I might try and dig up my books again and get back to referencing this article as well. There's still a lot of work to be done to bring it up to scratch. Ka-ru 04:41, 31 March 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Article Revert[edit]

I've reverted the updates by Heseri based on 2 reasons, firstly they completely reversed the previous updates by P. Moore, including the removal of sourced information to be replaced with the previous unsourced information, and secondly it appears that Heseri is a sock-puppet of the now permanently banned Highshines, as a quick look at Heseri's Wiki contribution shows vandalism to certain user-pages who enacted his ban, and a continuation of continually changing image sizes that was a hallmark of Highsines. Any further replacement of sourced quotes for unsource, or endless messing around with image sizes for no appartent reason will be reverted. Ka-ru 01:08, 4 April 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Commentary Removed[edit]

I've removed the following add to the article solely based on the fact that it's commentary/opinion. I've moved it here to the talk page in case the owner of the comments wants to pursue the matter. We've already gone through the Seagrave debate. While there is reasonable debate on the traditional view of Cixi, in the absence of a definitive view, the traditional one has been put forward in the article, with a substantial section at the end explaining the alternate view. This seemed to have been the consensus reached in the past. The removed commentary from the Sterling Seagrave secton is as follows:

"These people have clearly not read the book, however, as he frequently refers to primary sources. His arguments against the slanderers are well reasoned and convincing, and it is clear that the prevailing view of Cixi is based on absolute fiction. The above commentary on this page is, in itself, false." ( Ka-ru 07:06, 24 May 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Birth Name[edit]

One of Cixi's brother's descendants has recently written a book about his great-great-great aunt. In it he insists that Cixi's birth name is "Xingzhen". This is the version that has been accepted on the Chinese wikipedia. Regardless her birth name being Lan Keue or Xingzhen, I think it is important that we do not use this designation to refer to her in the "early years" section. Colipon+(T) 03:37, 20 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Article needs additional references or sources for verification" tag[edit]

I've added this tag to the article as it is poorly sourced and most recent additions to this article are also unsourced. Please, people, source your additions or they may be removed if objected to. Ka-ru 08:24, 24 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Alright, as I am the author of most of the recent edits, I have a few clarifications. There are two sources by which this information relies upon. One is the text of "Qing Histories", which is recognized as the "mainstream history", and the other is the CCTV-10 Lecture Room series on Cixi where historian Sui Lijuan explores Cixi's life in a factual manner in 24 episodes. The entire series is now on YouTube for verification. Colipon+(T) 05:41, 25 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I'm not entirely sure, but I think that the use of the name 'Tung-Chih' (for the future Tongzhi Emperor) may be incorrect.

My reason for believing so is because I think that the spelling of the name 'Tung-Chih' originated from a book by Anchee Min titled Empress Orchid, as opposed to being an actual term to describe the Tongzhi Emperor as a child.

As the book is based on real people/events, Min changes the spelling of many characters' names (whilst retaining the pronounciation) on many occasions. None of these names are actually official titles, and I think that this may be the case here.

Any suggestions?

RuthW 17:39, 4 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


The "legacy and evaluation" section seems a bit tedious. If there is no opposition in the next week or so I will rewrite the section to provide for a more summarized version. Colipon+(T) 09:05, 8 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

pinyin tones[edit]

correction for pinyin tones: cixi should be ci2xi3. I remember it being spoken like that when I went to the Forbidden City in Beijing, and the KEY software ( Chinese dictionary confirms that the tones are 2 and 3, respectively. Thanks —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:29, 24 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I've just looked it up in my Xinhua Zidian, it says xi3 (formerly xi1), so I've changed it to Cíxǐ. LDHan 21:10, 4 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hundred Days[edit]

The article currently reads, under 'Hundred Days',

"According to the new research of Taiwan’s scholar Lei Chiasheng in 2004, there is new explanation of Cixi’s coup in 1898. During the period of Hundred Days' Reform, Japanese prime minister Ito Hirobumi(伊藤博文) and British missionary Timothy Richard went to Beijing and lobbied Kang Youwei(康有為) for the plots of “borrow- talent” (借才)and “united-states”(合邦). In fact,the plots were diplomatic tricks...."

Sorry, this does not make sense; could we have it converted into English? (Or should it be removed as just some guy's theory who wrote a book)? m.e. (talk) 09:40, 11 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I agree. This section doesn't make much sense. Until it is properly written and sourced it should be removed. Gugganij (talk) 23:57, 29 August 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Just for the records. Here is the text: According to the new research of Taiwan’s scholar Lei Chiasheng in 2004, there is new explanation of Cixi’s coup in 1898. During the period of Hundred Days' Reform, Japanese prime minister Ito Hirobumi(伊藤博文) and British missionary Timothy Richard went to Beijing and lobbied Kang Youwei(康有為) for the plots of “borrow- talent” (借才)and “united-states”(合邦). In fact,the plots were diplomatic tricks. Cixi found the plots and arranged the coup to stop them. According to the files of Qing Government, we can understand that Cixi could get the information about the new-policies. So she could read the Yang Shenxiu(楊深秀)’s report which was suggestion on uniting the China, USA, UK and Japan. Finally, she understood the dangerous situation and started the coup.

Gugganij (talk) 00:00, 30 August 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

We've been having the same issue over in the article about the Hundred Days' Reform. The same person who posted it here, copied and pasted it over there as well. After we removed it, he put it back. It seems that the consensus among editors is that it's confusing, hard to understand, and hard to verify. It lacks any comparable citation or sources in American, Japanese, and British history. It seems some guy simply wrote a book, which most of us can't read nor have access to judge the quality of. See Discussion at the Hundred Days Reform. I am really inclined to remove it again and let the original poster proof it to us. Comatose51 (talk) 12:48, 4 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Please don’t remove this paragraph.This interpretation is well-known in China and Taiwan.These notes are first hand and believable."On September 20, Yang Shenxiu suggested Guangxu Emperor unite China, USA, UK and Japan" and "On September 21, Song bolo suggested Guangxu Emperor unite China, USA, UK and Japan." are all base on original file of Qing dynasty, and were cited in Dr. Lei chiasheng's book,chapter 4.Lei is the professor of National Taiwan University.In Lei's book(, he cited more details.So the Explanation is believable.Do you have opposite evidences proved that the interpretation is wrong? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:02, 8 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The onus is on you to prove what you're saying is true, not the other way around. Original file of Qing dynasty falls under the category of primary research, which is not allowed on Wikipedia. Furthermore, how can we believe the source when none of us can read it? If I cite some text in an unknown language and say that it completely disputes your point, would you believe me if you can't read it? We can't take what you say on faith, especially when it contradicts what most of us know about American history. Any attempts to merge China and the US would have been worthy of a mention in our history books. There is none. Lastly, outside of the two Wikipedia articles you've edited, the articles about Japan, UK, China, and the US don't mention this episode in their history. Nor does the article on Ito Hirobumi say anything about this. The circumstantial evidence is so strongly against your claim and all you have to back it up are primary research and something most of the editors on the English Wikipedia cannot read and thus verify.Comatose51 (talk) 04:30, 9 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

There is a review written by Lei chia-sheng. Please see: Basically, Lei’s research is trusty and credible. It has overtaken traditional sayings believing that Kang you-wei was a good guy and Cixi was a bad woman. Sometimes,the reformers could make a big mistake. (talk) 05:41, 9 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

That's the review of a book written in Chinese. It doesn't qualify as a credible source on Wikipedia. More importantly, the question isn't over if Cixi was a bad person or not. That's too board of a claim to ponder anyways. The dispute is over the claim that there was a plot to unite China, Japan, US, and UK into one country. There is no corroborating evidence in American history for this. Why do I have to keep repeating myself? You've yet to answer the main point of the dispute. If there was ever such a plot, there would be a record of it in American, British, and Japanese history. Being an American I can only speak from an American perspective and there is no mentioning of such a plot ever.Comatose51 (talk) 04:34, 11 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I have removed this section. A secret plot to unite China, the UK, the USA and Japan of which no one in the latter three countries has ever heard and of which only a single very dubious Chinese source (not even the Chinese wiki has an article about this supposed professor, google also comes up with nothing except the the text present here in the wiki entry) which claims to have "uncovered" this secret plot in 2004 (KMT and Communist historians never looked into the Qing archives before? Right.) exists sounds like complete nonsense and an unfounded conspiracy theory. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:04, 24 December 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]


This article is severely lacking in citations so I added the citations improvement tag. There are whole sections without a single citation, for example 'Tongzhi's Marriage and Rule'. Zatoichi26 (talk) 01:47, 23 September 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I did a clean up of this article about 18 months ago, adding citations to most of the article. Within about 2 months someone had come along, removed the cited parts, and added huge chunks of unreferenced material. I gave up on this article after that because it seems to one of those articles that everyone has an opinion on. I agree about the citation tag, and I think all uncited material should be reviewed and removed if no sources are found to support the information. There is far too much misinformation around to let it confuse things here. Ka-ru (talk) 14:36, 10 December 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

An Dehai[edit]

What were the references for this name? Does this refer to the chief eunuch known as An Er in the Jernigan book, forbidden City?

Whichwood (talk) 03:47, 17 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

What happened to her corpse?[edit]

The article said that the tomb-robbers threw her corpse to the floor. But after that? Did someone else later put it back into the coffin or what? If I visited her tomb right now, is her corpse still in the coffin or somewhere else? I mean, the corpse of Guangxu Emperor was so well preserved they found out that his death was by poisoning -> 100 years later! Rad vsovereign (talk) 19:01, 24 March 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

'Punji' link not correct[edit]

Near the end of the Hundred Days Reform section, the article states "...although she attempted crowning Punji, a boy of fourteen who was from a close branch of the Imperial family...". The link to Punji is definitely not correct, going to an article on a booby-trapped stake. Is the name incorrect, or should there be a disambiguation page for the Punji? (I thought it might have been a typo and intended to have been Puyi, but he wasn't born at the time being discussed) In the meantime, I'll remove the link. Murdocke (talk) 20:07, 30 December 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Cixi's Corpse[edit]

Empress Dowager Cixi's corpse

Does anybody know when the picture of her corpse is dated? It seems to decayed to be her corpse in the 1920s, and it can't be the one of the 2008 forensic test since the image has been on the Wikipedia Commons since 2006. --Queen Elizabeth II's Little Spy (talk) 04:26, 12 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Chinese Nationalist Bias[edit]

The paragraph on the Boxer Rising is absurdly biased. 'Allied Western invasion force?' I think we are going to have to do better than that. Perhaps someone who has not been brought up on Communist propaganda might like to write a less prejudiced version. There is a very judicious account of the Boxer Rising in the Cambridge History of China, which I would commend to anybody interested in finding out what really happened.

Djwilms (talk) 08:01, 20 June 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Communist propaganda" slammed Cixi's rule as corrupt and blamed the qing as well as the west for china's failings. Next time you try to insult a user, I suggest you look up your sources. The communist account of the boxer rebellion is essentially that the boxers were armed with spears, whatever the communist accounts thought of the morality of the movement, they actually agree with the common (and false) western view that the boxers were auperstitious hill billies who tried to fight guns with magic, and most notably, communist accounts downplay the imperial army's roleSeyeednu (talk) 23:42, 11 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Corpse Photo[edit]

I am removing the photo of the corpse, unless someone can show why it is notable. Is there something notable about her corpse that is not mentioned? E.g., "her corpse was exhumed, put on display, and this display is notable because..." Without any notable context, it is simply a bizarre, trivial addition to a biography, and it does not add anything encyclopedic to the article. Joseph Merrick's corpse might be notable, but I don't see how a poor-quality photo of a corpse, which appears to be like any other corpse, is notable or worthwhile in a biography. (talk) 00:09, 24 August 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Court life in cixi's time[edit]

Seyeednu (talk) 23:43, 11 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Cixi: The Woman Behind the Throne By Amanda Bensen[edit]

Rajmaan (talk) 14:19, 30 December 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

With the Empress dowager  By Katharine Augusta Carl[edit]

A Personal Estimate of the Character of the Late Empress Dowager, Tze-Hsi

Katharine A. Carl

Rajmaan (talk) 14:21, 30 December 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Massive objectivity issues with this article[edit]

Just to take as an example from the article: "The Empress Dowager (front middle) poses with her court attendants and Guangxu's empress (second from left), who at the same time was also her niece. She arranged the marriage of Guangxu against his will, and resulted in the Emperor's failure to produce an heir to the throne."

There's no evidence offered or logical reason that the emperor's dislike of the arranged empress has anything to do with failure to produce an heir. Consider that he had many cocubines in addition to the empress and that despite his known favor for at least one of them he still did not produce an heir. Likewise, the empress dowager being involved in the selection of empress and concubines was not completely abnormal. In addition, other sources suggest that Guangxu was a sickly man who couldn't get off without percussion instruments.

This whole article seems to be filled with what I assume are slightly distorted statements planted by brainwashed Chinese attempting to make Empress Dowager Cixi look bad (not that she's an angel or anything). — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:59, 27 December 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"what I assume are slightly distorted statements planted by brainwashed Chinese" -- and where's your evidence for that? 2001:44B8:4113:FF00:E187:D763:F21E:B7D4 (talk) 02:40, 30 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

New biography of Cixi[edit]

In light of the publication in 2013 of a new biography of Cixi by Jung Chang (Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China, Alfred A. Knopf), I think this entry probably needs serious updating. Author Chang's book contains material from many new primary sources unavailable to previous biographers of the empress dowager. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Sue Douglasss (talkcontribs) 16:59, 17 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • Seconded. I'm reading it at the moment (and have just finished the section on the Boxer Rebellion). Suffice to say that, while it may of course be biased in the opposite direction as a direct attack on the traditional view on the Empress Dowager (I personally think it's a little rosy in places though faults and failures are acknowledged), the comparison with this Wikipedia article is so different that they're practically talking about different people. Suffice to say, the evidence presented at least seems to completely blow the concept of a 'reformist' Guangxu Emperor being opposed by the ultra-conservative Empress Dowager completely out of the water. I'll try and find time to contribute further, but I do feel we need at least 2 or 3 people who have read the book (and preferably know more of the era than I do) to collaborate and make sure any revisions are NPOV considering the scale of the differences.ImperatordeElysium 21:59, 23 January 2014 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by ImperatordeElysium (talkcontribs)
    • In fact, having thought a little further on what's in the book and looked around, I think there's going to be a need for major discussion and potentially massive rewrites on just about every article on Chinese history at this time. ImperatordeElysium 22:12, 23 January 2014 (UTC)
  • Completely agree! There should indeed be a revision of the articles for this period, but the revision should be based on the work in the field over the last 20-30 years as well as Jung Chang. Much of what she says had long been widely accepted in the field (which she is not familiar with), some is nonsense, some is debatable but reasonable, and some is genuinely new. It will be hard and take time to sort out which is which. In the meantime, there has been an initial discussion on the H-ASIA Discussion Network, starting in December 2013 (here search "Cixi"). These posts list the initial reviews, mostly by non-specialists. In any case, revising the Wikipedia Cixi article doesn't have to wait, only just be cautious in using the Chang Jung book. ch (talk) 23:35, 23 January 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
* Pamela Crossley reviewed Chang Jung's book in the April 9, 2014 London Review of Books. She points out a list of omissions and misinterpretations and concludes that Chang's "claims regarding Cixi's importance seem to be minted from her own musings, and have little to do with what we know was actually going on in China." The review is posted (free) at [1]. ch (talk) 04:59, 27 June 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I would be very careful before inserting a bunch of Jung Chang references into the article. Jung Chang's best selling book "Wild Swans" is a recollection of her own memories and gained her acclaim, but she is by no means a good historian or a good biographer of other people. Her work "Mao the Unknown Story" is as polemical as it was misleading, and dismissed by most mainstream historians as a bad biography. Similarly the Cixi book is just Jung Chang swooning over the subject of her book and trying in every manner possible paint her in a good light, "bordering on hagiography" as the New York Times editorial puts it. That said, I haven't dug into the book, so if there are edit suggestions, I would be open to discussion and cross-checking of sources.

That said, I'd like to add the caveat that it should be obvious to anyone who has done research during that historical period that Cixi is a multi-dimensional figure that deserves a re-evaluation, she has been vilified for too long and someone needs to look at the historical evidence with a critical eye; I just don't know if Jung Chang is the best person to do this. Colipon+(Talk) 12:30, 27 June 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Well put. Crossley's review goes into some detail on the points where Chang Jung summarizes what is widely accepted and where she goes off the mark. I removed text from the article which had been copied and pasted seemingly at random from The Daily Beast review, which is quite misleading because it simply takes the book at face value. There is much of value in the book, for Chang is a smart person and a gifted writer. It's a good read, so the pity is that she either didn't consult with scholars working in the field or didn't pay attention to them. ch (talk) 18:44, 27 June 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I've added cleanup and ref-improve tags, first to rephrase the second paragraph of the "Death of Xianfeng Emperor" section - sounds like a bad translation - and the latter to highlight to more able reference-finders of the citations that get sparser as the article progresses. A little new at this, I deeply apologise if I've mis-tagged! Sixtylamps (talk) 14:34, 26 September 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Bias problems[edit]

This article beats really hard on the idea that all the negative perceptions of Cixi are the result of slander from the West and her enemies. I don't doubt that there's truth in that, but this article has so much uncited speculation on others' motives, unsourced dismissal of claims against her, and other forms of apologism that it's hard to take seriously. What the article direly needs is better referencing, so that we can properly weigh all of the claims - sources beyond Kwong (who makes up 1/4 of the cites here), Seagrave, Chang, and other revisionists. If historians held an erroneous view of her all this time, we should see exactly why that is, and why they were wrong, not just keep saying "her enemies did it".--Xanzzibar (talk) 01:53, 21 January 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Was going to start a new section but this describes the issues I noticed as well. The section currently states that the "dominant historical view" is that she is a despot, yet by far the most text in the section does not conform to this view. That violates NPOV. Banedon (talk) 01:38, 8 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Alright, can you point out which section specifically you think is the most problematic? Or is this something that warrants a complete re-write? Colipon+(Talk) 02:18, 8 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The section I tagged ("Historical Opinions"). Best way to approach it would be in my opinion to add some exposition of the "dominant historical view", and reduce the revisionist opinions to a few sentences. Banedon (talk) 02:51, 8 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I added references and text to the 'Historical opinion" section, then took the liberty of removing the sign on the section. I havea few more juicy quotes, but this should be enough for the (talk) 08:40, 15 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I should have added a further explanation in response to Banedon and Colipon that some version of the revisionist view is now most widely held, and shouldn't be covered in just a few sentences. The "dominant" view that had been implied in the section is that she was an ignorant, conservative/ reactionary, interfering woman, and a Manchu at that. Of course, this view should also be represented, since some serious historians argue some form of it, and it is still widely circulated in popular (talk) 19:51, 15 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm not an expert on this subject, but my main concern was more that in the section, after the first two paragraphs, all five of the people cited (Katharine, Luke, etc) take the revisionist view. If this is really the dominant opinion now, okay, but even then the weightage in favour of the revisionist opinion is strong. I would rather merge all five sections into one, or split them into another article per Colipon's suggestion. I don't have any plans to comprehensively edit the article however (not an expert after all) so I'll leave it to you to mold the section. Banedon (talk) 06:15, 16 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Took a look at this review of Jung Chang's work by The Guardian: [2]. I quote, "Although most of Cixi's previous biographers have demonised her, others have been more measured." If this statement is true, then the view that Cixi is a despot remains the dominant one. Banedon (talk) 09:07, 16 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Banedon and Colipon's comments are much to the point. I'm in the midst of recasting the section and will do my best to follow the advice. Still, it's important to have a section on "Historical opinions" in order to show first-time readers that it's not just a matter of facts but of how different people have put the facts together into different stories and how they changed over time. Such a section alerts readers on how to interpret any further reading -- you can't take Backhouse & Bland at face value, seductive as their story may be, or Chang Jung (likewise).
Isabel Hilton, who did the review in the Guardian, is certainly knowledgeable but it's hard to say that "most" of Cixi's biographers "demonized" her (whatever "demonized" means). Seagrave, Warner, & Buck certainly didn't. They defended or romanticized her while still presenting her as an authoritarian leader capable of great cruelty, though maybe not as a "despot" (whatever "despot" means).
The word "despot" has lots of baggage, going back to the earliest Western debates & down to Karl Wittfogel's Oriental Despotism (I'm drafting an article on OD, so it's on my mind). Cixi's article is not the place to debate the theoretical question of whether all Chinese rulers are despots, but it shouldn't mess it up. I'll do my best to be balanced and wait for (talk) 19:10, 16 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Revising Historical opinion section[edit]

I hesitate to do any more without checking whether Colipon or anybody else has plans, but here are some possibilities. Somebody could think of better thjngs than I could.

We might cut down and consolidate the subsections, which are more about the books than about Cixi. Maybe even move Der Ling and Carl to their own articles (stubs, but ok). Then we could summarize their rosy views; add Backhouse & Bland, which is actually the most important of the early books; some of the anti-Manchu attacks; Theodore White wrote something like "she was the most evil woman in Chinese history"; and then a few sentences apiece for Seagrave, Marina Warner, Pearl Buck, Kwong, Chung, Lei, and Jung Chang.

I'm guessing that the length would be about the same as the present section, organized not book by book but thematically over different periods. Some of the themes would be: was she a reformer or conservative or reactionary? Is she made a scapegoat? Blamed fairly or unfairly for the fall of the dynasty because she and it were Manchu? Was she a feminist? Was she the victim of misogyny? Maybe some more? We can't take positions, but we can lay things (talk) 20:43, 15 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It is probably a good idea to break out that article under "Historical Opinions of the Empress Dowager Cixi" and organize it thematically as opposed to by each book. If you have a vision and the time to do the work, I would encourage you to be bold and start editing! Colipon+(Talk) 22:47, 15 November 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I know that an editor correctly says above; "Isn't that the Wade-Giles romanization? (which we don't use on Wikipedia)", however, in my time as a 1970s A-Level history student in London, our textbooks all used "Tz'u-hsi" or "Tzu-hsi" rather than "Cixi". It didn't take too much Googling to find her old name still in use, this one from King's College (Pennsylvania), links to a number of sources. My thought was that it might help dinosaurs like myself (of which there must be many millions) if it was explained somewhere in the article that Tz'u-hsi was the same as Cixi and it was due to the modern transliteration of Chinese script that she apparently has two (on the face of it) entirely different names in Western histories. Alansplodge (talk) 16:36, 1 December 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Apologies, I see that Tz'u-hsi is mentioned in "Names of Empress Dowager Cixi". Alansplodge (talk) 10:35, 11 December 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

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Artistic works[edit]

I have just returned from a visit to China in which I visited the Eastern Qing tombs in Tianjin, which include Cixi's. In one of the buildings there is a selection of her paintings and calligraphy and I was shocked, the ones on show are superb in concept and execution. A bit of Googling suggests that she was an accomplished artist. The current entry seems not to have anything about her artistic accomplishments and I feel this is a failing. However, having no expertise in Chinese visual arts and not much in Chinese history, it's perfectly possible that there's a good reason for the absence, e.g. the attribution of this fine stuff to Cixi is dubious.

Failing that, I'm inclined to pull in some public-domain images and open a new Cixi-as-artist section in the entry. Tim Bray (talk) 07:41, 7 April 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

A Commons file used on this page or its Wikidata item has been nominated for deletion[edit]

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"Retirement" section: Taiwan[edit]

Given the context (the 1894 Sino-Japanese war) I wasn't sure if the wikilink I added to "Taiwan" should go to geography of Taiwan or to Taiwan under Qing rule. It definitely should be linked; it's the first mention of Taiwan in the article. I used the geography article because its page preview seemed more helpful. I wouldn't object if someone changed it. WarEqualsPeace (talk) 13:52, 17 September 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

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