During its span of thousands of miles, the Great Wall has numerous passes, of which L ady’s Pass is easy to capture people’s attention. As is known to many people, the Great Wall was built and defended by men, and had little to do with women, so why was it named the Lady’s Pass? In fact this name had much to do with Princess Pingyang, a lady with both beauty and wisdom.
Princess Pingyang was the third daughter of Lee Yuan, the first emperor of Tang Dynasty. Long before he came into the throne, he was the Duke of Tang and then the governor and military commander of a province. Born into Lee family, Pingyang was well educated and married into a military officer when she came of age. She had a very good mastery of martial art and read lots of books on military strategy.
A chance finally came for her to make full use of her military knowledge. In 617 BC,
the Duke of Tang assembled his own army and rose against the then emperor. Pingyang was then living in the capital city Chang’an when she got her father’s letter to ask her to flee to a safe place. Instead of fleeing, she returned to her family’s estate, and sold the property to build an army. Within 3 months, 70 thousand men swore allegiance to her and fought for her honor.
The army under her leadership was extremely brave and ambitious. She was a charismatic military commander with all kinds of followers. She won the majority of the battles she commandeered and occupied many cities. She also won the respect of the common people. People called her Lady Lee and her army the lady’s army. Modern historian praised that she had the military talent and bravery of Joan of Arc and the wisdom and beauty of Cleopatra.
She led the army east and joined the force with her father. Because of her military victory, Lee Yuan got the war initiative and began to attack the capital city Chang’an. Pingyang and her brothers worked together to assault the city and occupied it 2 months later. After this war, she got an important mission to defend Shanxi, the place where her father grew and thrived. The place her army quartered was Weize pass of the Great Wall. Because of her, it was renamed the Lady’s Pass.
Lee Yuan proclaimed himself emperor in June, 618 BC and Pingyang became Princess. 5 years later, she died of severe illness. In Medieval China women had not the equal rights with men. According to funeral rite of Tang Empire, there was no musical band for women’s funeral. Emperor Lee Yuan wanted to make an exception to use a band of 40 musicians for her funeral. Some imperial censors delivered a strongly worded protest and the emperor was under intense pressure. The emperor insisted the musical band and said “Princess Pingyang was the commander of millions of soldiers and she was not a common woman. Does not such a military commander deserve a musical band for her funeral?”
During the long history of 6000 years of China, she was the only female military commander with the combination characters of Joan of Arc and Cleopatra. She was gone for 1500 years but the Lady’s Pass is still there watching both sides of the Great Wall. History became legend, and legend became myth. For 1500 years our people honored her with various ways. She and her story became a part of the Great Wall, standing there and weathering the storms and whirlwinds.