Empress Dowager Ci'an

Empress Dowager Ci'an
Empress Dowager Ci'an
Regent of the Qing Dynasty
Regency 11 November 1861 – 8 April 1881 (&1000000000000001900000019 years, &10000000000000148000000148 days)
concurrently with Empress Dowager Cixi
Predecessor Sushun, Zaiyuan, Duanhua and other 5 officials as regents for Tongzhi Emperor
Successor Empress Dowager Cixi as sole regent for Guangxu Emperor
Empress consort of the Qing Dynasty
Tenure 24 July 1852 – 22 August 1861
(&100000000000000090000009 years, &1000000000000002900000029 days)
Spouse Xianfeng Emperor
Posthumous name
Empress Xiaozhen Ci'an Yuqing Hejing Chengjing Yitian Zuosheng Xian 孝贞慈安裕庆和敬诚靖仪天祚圣显皇后
Father Niuhuru Muyangga
Mother Lady Giyang, concubine
Born 12 August 1837
Died 8 April 1881 (aged 43)
Forbidden City, Beijing, Qing Empire
Burial Puxiangyu Dingdonling, Eastern Qing Tombs

Empress Dowager Ci'an (Chinese: 慈安皇太后, Manchu: Hiyoošungga Jekdun Iletu Hūwanghu; 12 August 1837 – 8 April 1881), popularly known in China as the East Empress Dowager (Chinese: 东太后), and officially known posthumously as the Empress Xiao Zhen Xian (Chinese: 孝贞显皇后), was the second Empress Consort of the Xianfeng Emperor (b. 1831 – d.1861) of the Manchu Qing Dynasty in China, and then Empress Dowager after 1861. She is known for being co-de facto ruler of China with Empress Dowager Cixi for 20 years.



Empress Dowager Ci'an née Niuhuru (鈕祜祿氏) was a Manchu. Her family belonged to the Manchu Bordered Yellow Banner Corps. They were descendants of Prince Eidu of the Niuhuru clan through his third son Celge (車爾格) (? – 1647),[1] who had once directed the Board of Revenue.

  • Great-Grandfather: Niuhuru Fuhechinga (鈕祜祿·福克精阿), Baron Duan Min, served as a management official in Xining
  • Grandfather: Niuhuru Chiputan (鈕祜祿·策布坦) (? – 1794), Baron Duan Qin, was a second rank commander in Shanxi Province
  • Father: Niuhuru Muyangga (鈕祜祿·穆楊阿) (? – before 1852[2]), served as an official in Guangxi Province
  • Official Mother: A woman related to the imperial family, Niuhuru Muyangga's primary wife. She was the granddaughter of Qingheng (庆恒).[3]
  • Biological Mother: Lady Giyang (姜氏), Niuhuru Muyangga's concubine [4]
  • Aunt: Wife of Duanhua, Prince Zheng
  • Brother: Niuhuru Guanghe (鈕祜祿·廣科) (? – 1880), a general in Hangzhou

Early life

Lady Niuhuru was born in the seventeenth year of the Daoguang Emperor's reign. On 15 February 1850 the Daoguang Emperor died and his fourth son, Prince Yizhu, succeeded him as the Xianfeng Emperor. Xianfeng's principal wife, Lady Sakda, had died the previous month and been given the posthumous title of Empress Xiao De Xian (Chinese: 孝德显皇后). The selection of a new principal wife and concubines was delayed by two years due to the mourning period for the late Daoguang Emperor. The elections took place in 1852 and Lady Niuhuru was one of those chosen to stay by Dowager Consort Kangci. Some sources claim that Lady Niuhuru entered the Imperial Palace in the late 1840s and became a concubine of Prince Yizhu.[5][6]

As the Xianfeng Emperor's consort

Lady Niuhuru's status within the palace rose rapidly. In late March or early April 1852 she was made an Imperial Concubine (嬪) and given the name Zhen (貞 - meaning "upright", "chaste", "virtuous", or "faithful to the memory of one's husband", i.e., by remaining chaste after his death and not remarrying). In late June or early July 1852, she was promoted to the rank of Noble Consort Zhen (貞貴妃). On 24 July 1852, she was officially created Empress Consort (皇后). As Empress Consort she was put in charge of the women's quarters. Some sources claim that Lady Niohuru was already made primary wife after the death of Lady Sakda.[7]

Customs required that the emperor had to spent one day a month with the empress.[8] Lady Niuhuru stayed childless and it was the Imperial Concubine Yi (懿嬪) (the later Empress Dowager Cixi) who bore the Xianfeng Emperor a son, the later Tongzhi Emperor, on 27 April 1856. Some biographers state that Lady Niuhuru gave birth to the Xianfeng Emperor's only daughter, Kurun Princess Rong'an, who was actually the daughter of the Xianfeng Emperor's concubine Consort Li. However, as Empress Consort, she was considered to be the legal mother of all of the Emperor's children, regardless of whether or not she was their birth mother.[9] Cixi had little to say in her sons upbringing. It was Lady Niuhuru who raised the Emperor's children and decided their punishment when they did not obey. Cixi once said:

  • "I had...quite a lot of trouble with (Empress Niuhuru) and found it very difficult to keep on good terms with her".[10]

As co-regent for the Tongzhi Emperor

Empress Dowager Ci'an as depicted by a palace painter

On 22 August 1861, in the wake of the Second Opium War, the Xianfeng Emperor died at the Rehe Traveling Palace (Chinese: 热河行宫), 230 km (140 mi) northeast of Beijing, where the imperial court had fled. His heir, the son of the Noble Consort Yi and the eventual Tongzhi Emperor, was only five years old. As a consequence, the imperial family was shaken by a struggle over who would assume the regency. Lady Niuhuru first agreed to cooperate with the corrupt Manchu official Sushun, but changed her mind after Noble Consort Yi had chosen confrontation.[11] Eventually, in November 1861, the Noble Consort Yi, with the help of Yixin, Prince Gong, staged a palace coup known as the Xinyou Coup, had the opposing princes commit suicide and their leader Sushun beheaded, and succeeded in securing the regency for her and the Empress Consort.[12]

Palace Daily Records do not explain why there was a difference of 24 hours in the naming of Lady Niuhuru and Noble Consort Yi to the position of Empress Dowager. According to Tony Teng there was a sharp argument between Sushun and Noble Consort Yi about the granting of honors following Xianfeng's death. It is likely that Lady Niuhuru chimed in on Noble Consort Yi's behalf and that Sushun capitulated in the face of the two women.[13]

Eventually Noble Consort Yi was officially created "Holy Mother Empress Dowager" (聖母皇太后), a great privilege considering that she had never been an Empress Consort while the Xianfeng Emperor was alive; she was only able to become empress dowager because she was the biological mother of the new Emperor. She was also given the honorific name of Cixi (慈禧 - meaning "motherly and auspicious"). Lady Niuhuru, as former Empress Consort and the new Emperor's legal mother, was created "Empress Mother Empress Dowager" (母后皇太后), a title which gave her precedence over Empress Dowager Cixi, and given the honorific name of Ci'an (慈安 - meaning "motherly and calming"). Because she lived in the eastern part of the Forbidden City, Empress Dowager Ci'an became popularly known as the East Empress Dowager (東太后).[14] Empress Dowager Ci'an spent most of her life in the Palace of Gathering Essence. On several occasions after 1861, Empress Dowager Ci'an was given additional honorific names (two Chinese characters at a time), as was customary for emperors and empresses, until by the end of her life her name was a long even string of characters beginning with Ci'an.

Empress Dowager Ci'an and Empress Dowager Cixi were appointed joint de facto regents for the minor Tongzhi Emperor. Because women were not allowed to be seen during audiences they sat behind a curtain. Although in theory she had precedence over Empress Dowager Cixi, Empress Dowager Ci'an was in fact a self-effacing person and seldom intervened in politics, unlike Empress Dowager Cixi, who was the actual master of China. As de facto ruler, Empress Dowager Ci'an had to learn about politics, so she and Cixi studied history. In November 1861, in keeping with the imperial practice, they began to consult the records of their Manchu predecessors. In June 1863, they had the contents of tōng jiàn ji lǎn (通鑑輯覽)[15] explained to them. About a year earlier, an earlier compilation by the Hanlin scholars of the imperial libraries, entitled "A valuable mirror for excellent government" (chih-p'ing pao-chien) became the text for a series of lectures by scholars and officials that Empress Dowager Ci'an and Empress Dowager Cixi attended for over two years, the last lecture given in November 1866.[16]

It is thought by many biographers that Empress Dowager Cixi was the actual power behind the throne. Despite this, for the first 20 years of her regency she was not allowed to make decisions on her own. Any decree needed the approval of both regents. Both Ci'an and the Tongzhi Emperor were given a seal, but because Tongzhi was underage the seal was given to his mother, Empress Dowager Cixi. Ci'an's seal was engraved with "Yushang" (Imperial Award) and Cixi's with "Tongdaotang" (Hall of Accord with the Way).[17]

The case of An Dehai

Palace of Gathering Essence.

The years after Emperor Xianfeng's death were called the Tongzhi Restoration. It was a period of peace; the Taiping Rebellion and the war with United Kingdom ceased. The treasury began growing again after decades of depletion. Ci'an was little mentioned during this period and her only notable intervention in politics was in 1869. The most feared grand eunuch of the imperial court An Dehai (Chinese: 安德海), close confidant of Empress Dowager Cixi, was on a trip south to buy some dragon robes for Empress Dowager Cixi. While traveling in Shandong province, he used his power as an envoy of Empress Dowager Cixi to extort money from people, which caused great trouble. The matter was reported to the court by the governor of Shandong, and Empress Dowager Ci'an who heard about it made up a decree[18] which read:

Ding Baozhen (丁寶楨) (1820-1886) reports that a eunuch has been creating disturbance on the province of Shandong. According to the department of magistrate of Dezhou, a eunuch named An and his followers passed through that place by the way of the imperial canal, in two dragon barges, with much display of pomp and pageantry. He announced that he had come on an imperial mission to procure dragon robes. His barges flew a black banner, bearing in it's center the triple imperial emblems of the sun, and there were also dragon and phoenix flags flying on both side, of his vessels. A goodly company of both sexes were in the attendance on this person; there were female musicians, skilled in the use of string and wind instruments. The banks of the canal were lined with crowds of spectators, who witnessed with amazement and admiration his progress. The twenty-first day of the last month happened to be this eunuch's birthday, so he arrayed himself in dragon robes and stood on the foredeck of his barge, to receive the homage of his suite. The local magistrate was just about to order his arrest when the barges set sail and proceeded southwards. The governor adds that he has already given orders for his immediate arrest.

We are dumbfounded at his report. How can we hope ever to purify the standard of morals in the palace and frighten evil-doers unless we make an example of this insolent eunuch, who was dared to leave Beijing without permission and to commit these lawless deeds? The governors of these three provinces of Shandong, Honan and Jiangsu are ordered to seek out and arrest the eunuch An whom we had formerly honored with the rank of the sixth grade and the decoration of the crow's feather. Upon his being duly identified by his companions, let him be forth with beheaded, without further formalities, no attention is to be paid to any crafty explanations which he may attempt to make. The governors concerned will be held responsible in the event of failure to affect his arrest [19]

An was beheaded on 12 September 1869. This was quite an unusual reaction for Empress Dowager Ci'an, and the execution of An Dehai is said to have greatly displeased Empress Dowager Cixi. Some sources say that Prince Gong forced Ci'an to take an independent decision for a change.[20] A several days after the arrest an edict was issued by Ci'an:

"Ding Baozhen now reports that the eunuch was arrested in the T'ai An prefecture and has been summarily beheaded. Our dynasty's house law is most strict in regard to the proper discipline of eunuchs, and provides severe punishment for any offences to which they may commit. They have always been sternly forbidden to make expeditions to the provinces, or to create trouble. Nevertheless, An Dehai actually had brazen effiontery to violate this law, and for his crimes his execution is only a fitting reward. In future, let all eunuchs take warning by his example; should we have further cause of complaint, the chief eunuchs of the several departments of the household will be punished as well as the actual offender. Any eunuch who may hereafter pretend that he has been sent on imperial business to the provinces shall be cast into chains at once, and sent to Beijing for punishment".[21]

The Tongzhi Emperor's marriage and death

In 1872 both Ci'an and Cixi agreed it was time for the Tongzhi Emperor to marry. As the highest-ranking woman in the Forbidden City, Empress Dowager Ci'an was put in charge of selecting the Tongzhi Emperor's new empress and concubines. It was decided that a girl from the Mongolian Alute clan (阿鲁特氏) (the later Empress Xiaozheyi) would become the new empress. Lady Alute's mother was Empress Dowager Ci'an's cousin from her father's side. After the wedding, both Empress Dowagers Ci'an and Cixi resigned as co-regents, but they resumed the regency in December 1874 during the Tongzhi Emperor's illness.[22] In January 1875 the Tongzhi Emperor died and Empress Dowager Cixi's nephew, Prince Zaitian, was appointed as successor with the regnal name of Guangxu. As the new Emperor was also a minor, Empress Dowager Ci'an and Empress Dowager Cixi were appointed as de facto rulers for the second time.

As co-regent for the Guangxu Emperor

During the late 1870s, Empress Dowager Cixi became ill from liver complaints, so Empress Dowager Ci'an had to rule on her own. During this time, she had to deal with the war with Russia over Ili. In 1871, Muslims rebelled in Xinjiang. The Chinese soon lost power and Russia occupied the Ili basin region. China regained power over Xinjiang in 1877. In 1879, Russia suggested that it maintain a strong presence in the region but China did not agree. The conflict ended with the signing of the Treaty of Saint Petersburg in February 1881.

Although Ci'an rarely left the Forbidden City, she did visit the Imperial tombs to pay respect to her husband and ancestors. In 1880, while at the Eastern Qing tombs, Ci'an, probable promted by Prince Gong to assert herself and her rights, took precedence in all the ceremonies. While at Xianfeng's tomb a friction started between Ci'an and Cixi. Ci'an as Empress Consort of the deceased Emperor took centre spot. She told Cixi to stand to the right and reminded her that she was only a concubine while her husband was alive. The vacant spot on the left was reserved for Xianfeng's first consort, Lady Sakda.[23] No further friction occurded that day. It is not recorded how Cixi felt about this.

Death and entombment

On 8 April 1881, during an audience at court, Empress Dowager Ci'an became ill and was accompanied to her private apartments, where she died within a few hours.[24] Her sudden death was a shock to many people. Although her health was good, Ci'an had been seriously ill twice according to Weng Tonghe, tutor of the Guangxu Emperor, once in March 1863 for 24 days, and another time in January 1870.[25] The official cause of her death between 9PM and 11 PM was a sudden stroke.[26] Thirty years after her death rumors would be spread that she had been poisoned by Empress Dowager Cixi.[27][28] However, such claims have never been substantiated and new evidence has not appeared in the many years since.

One of the most believed rumors is that Ci'an was given a secret edict by the Xianfeng Emperor just before his death. The edict was related to Cixi. If Cixi caused any problems she would be executed. After many years Ci'an revealed the edict to Cixi. The naïve Ci'an burned the edict which was the only thing that stood in Cixi's way for full power. Later that evening Ci'an died.

The posthumous name given to Empress Dowager Ci'an, which combines the honorific names which she gained during her lifetime with new names added just after her death, was:

  • (Chinese: 孝贞慈安裕庆和敬诚靖仪天祚圣显皇后)[29]

which reads:

  • "Empress Xiao ² -zhen ³ Ci'an Yuqing Hejing Chengjing Yitian Zuosheng 4 Xian 5 ".

This long name is still the one that can be seen on Ci'an's tomb today. The short form of her posthumous name is:

  • "Empress Xiao Zhen Xian" (Chinese: 孝贞显皇后).

After her death a valedictory degree was written for Ci'an which reads as followed:

"In spite of the ardious duties of the State, which have fully occupied my time, I was naturally of robust constitution and had therefore fully expected to attain to a good old age and to enjoy the Emperor's dutiful ministrations. Yesterday, however, I was suddenly stricken with a slight illness and his Majesty thereupon commanded his physician to attend me; later his Majesty came in person to enquire as to my health. And now, most unexpectedly, I have had a most dangerous relapse. At 7PM this evening I became completely confused in mind and now all hope of my recovery appears to be vain. I am forty-five years of age and for close on twenty years have held the high position of a regent of the empire. Many honorific titles and ceremonies of congratulation have been bestowed upon me: what cause have I therefore to regret?"[30]

The Dingdongling
(Puxiangyu Dingdongling on the left, Putuoyu Dingdongling on the right)

Empress Dowager Ci'an was interred amidst the Eastern Qing Tombs (Chinese: 清东陵), 125 kilometers/75 miles east of Beijing. She was denied burial next to her husband in the Dingling mausoleum.[31] Instead she was interred in the Dingdongling (Chinese: 定东陵) tomb complex (literally: the "Tombs east of the Dingling tomb"), along with Empress Dowager Cixi. More precisely, Empress Dowager Ci'an lies in the Puxiangyu Dingdonling (Chinese: 普祥峪定东陵) (literally: the "Tomb east of the Dingling tomb in the Vale of wide good omen"), while Cixi built herself the much larger Putuoyu Dingdongling (Chinese: 菩陀峪定东陵) (literally: the "Tomb east of the Dingling tomb in the Vale of Putuo"). The Dingling tomb (literally: the "Tomb of quietude") is the tomb of the Xianfeng Emperor, the emperor of Empress Dowager Ci'an and Empress Dowager Cixi, which is located indeed west of the Dingdongling. The Vale of Putuo owes its name to Mt Putuo (literally: the "Mountain of the Dharani of the Site of the Buddha's Enlightenment"), at the foot of which the Dingdongling is located.


1. i.e. mother of Tongzhi
2. "filial"; during the Qing Dynasty this was always the first character at the beginning of empresses' posthumous names
3. same character as when she was a concubine
4. this string of 12 characters are the honorific names that she received while alive, with possibly the last characters having been added only just after her death
5. "the Clear", or "the Illustrious"; this is the posthumous name of the Xianfeng Emperor; during the Qing Dynasty the last character of empresses' posthumous names was always the posthumous name of their emperor

Ci'an as person

A popular view of Empress Dowager Ci'an is that she was a highly respectable person, always quiet, never hot-tempered, and that she treated everybody very well and was highly respected by the Xianfeng Emperor. Both Tongzhi and Guangxu preferred Ci'an above Cixi.[32] Her good-hearted personality was no match for Empress Dowager Cixi, who managed to sideline the naive and candid Empress Dowager Ci'an. This is still the popular view in China, the image of a quiet Empress Dowager Ci'an perhaps stemming from the meaning of her honorific name.

However, some historians have painted a very different reality, mainly that of a self-indulgent and idle Empress Dowager Ci'an, who did not care as much for government and hard work as she cared for the pleasures and sweet life inside the Forbidden City. Empress Dowager Cixi, on the other hand, was a shrewd and intelligent woman who was ready to make sacrifices and work hard in order to obtain the supreme power, and who faced the complex problems that were besetting China at the time. As often, the reality may lie in between these two extremes and some even claim that Ci'an is said to have exhibited temper and willpower. The popular view of Ci'an being a nice simple girl was exaggerated by the reformer Kang Yu-wei and biographers Bland and Backhouse, to build up the contrast between her and Cixi.[33] There are no documented meetings between any foreigner and Ci'an[34], unlike Cixi, who met many foreigners after 1900.

Katherine A. Carl, who spent 9 months with empress dowager Cixi in 1903 described Ci'an, even though she never met her, as follows: Ci'an was known as the "Literary Empress". While Cixi handled all state affairs, Ci'an gave herself up to literary pursuits and led the life of a student. She was a woman of such fine literary ability that she herself sometimes examined the essays of the aspirants for the highest literary honors at the University of Beijing. She was also a writer of distinction.[35] Ci'an and Cixi lived amicably together, appreciated each others qualities, and are said to have had a sincere affection for each other, which never weakened during the whole of their long association. Their amicable relation ended with the death if Ci'an in 1881.[36]

Another view of Ci'an was written by Boon Ken Lim. The beautiful Yehenara, like the Jewess Hager, was the handmaid who was to bear a son for her master. Ci'an appears to have been like Sarah, who on her anxiety to make up for her own sterility, encouraged her husband to show his favor to his maid. Perhaps Xianfeng didn't want encouragement but Ci'an took great interest in the concubine as propective mother of the emperor's son and heir. Cixi was quick-tempered and probably jealous of the empress. Just before the birth of Tongzhi, Cixi was nearly demoted in rank for her bad temper and insolence. Ci'an intervered on her behalf. In contrast to Hager, Cixi did not openly despise her mistress. She was as tame as a lamb and for many years they lived on terms of friendship.[37]


  1. ^ Qing dynasty’s "Imperial Kinsmen Genealogy" Manchu nationality history, material and value (清代<玉牒>中的满族史资料及其价值) states that Chiputan is a descendant of Celge.
  2. ^ Qing Wenzong veritable records part 78,《清文宗实录》78卷. Muyangga is posthumously made Duke after his daughter enters the palace.
  3. ^ Niuhuru clan genealogy,(钮祜禄家谱).
  4. ^ Qing dynasty Wenzong’s veritable records (清文宗实录) part 78 reveals the surnames of Ci'an's official (Niuhuru Muyangga's primary wife) and birth mothers and that a title, Madame, given to both of them.
  5. ^ Draft history of the Qing dynasty. 《清史稿》卷二百十四.列傳一.后妃傳.文宗孝贞显皇后.
  6. ^ The Royal archives of the Qing dynasty (清宫档案) and Qing imperial genealogy (清皇室四谱), however, make no mention of Lady Niohuru entering the Forbidden City before 1852. Xianfeng did have another concubine besides Lady Sakda: Lady Wugiya, who was given the title of Imperial Concubine Yun.
  7. ^ Sterling Seagraves, "Dragon Lady" (softcover, p. 33).
  8. ^ Sterling Seagraves, "Dragon Lady" (softcover, p. 40).
  9. ^ The great Empress Dowager of China. Phill. P.W. Sergeant B.A. 1901 - Page 44.
  10. ^ Derling Yukeng, "Two years in the Forbidden City". p.252.
  11. ^ Sterling Seagraves, "Dragon Lady" (softcover, p. 72-74).
  12. ^ Luke. S. K. Kwong. "Imperial authority in crisis: An interpretation of the Coup D'était of 1861," Modern Asian studies 17, pt. 2 (April 1983): 221-238.
  13. ^ Tony Teng Yung-yuan, (1986) "Prince Kung and the Survival of the China Rule, 1858-1898". p.79.
  14. ^ Wang Kuo-wei: an intellectual biography, p.248.
  15. ^ (御批歷代通鑑輯覽), a review of dynastic histories, a work compiled by the orders of the Qianlong Emperor and annotated by him.
  16. ^ A mosaic of the hundred days; Luke S.K. Kwong, Harvard University. Council on East Asian studies.
  17. ^ Daily life in the Forbidden City, p.266.
  18. ^ Draft history of the Qing dynasty. 《清史稿》卷二百十四.列傳一.后妃傳.
  19. ^ Under the Empress Dowager by J. O. P. Bland, E. Backhouse; 1910, p. 59-60. Edmund Backhouse forged most of his sources but a degree was made and An Dehai was executed in 1869.
  20. ^ Marina Warner, The Dragon Empress. p.120
  21. ^ Under the Empress Dowager by J. O. P. Bland, E. Backhouse; 1910, p. 60.
  22. ^ Cordier, Relations, p. 566.
  23. ^ Under the Empress Dowager by J. O. P. Bland, E. Backhouse; 1910, p.101. Edmund Backhouse does not say where he got this information from. He does state that quarrels between palace women at the imperial tombs happened frequently.
  24. ^ Weng Tonghe's diary, (翁同龢日记).
  25. ^ Weng Tonghe's diary, (翁同龢日记).
  26. ^ Qing dynasty Dézōng veritable records. (清德宗實錄).
  27. ^ Edward Behr, The Last Emperor, 1987, p. 49.
  28. ^ Bland and Backhouse, under the empress dowager.
  29. ^ Draft history of the Qing dynasty. 《清史稿》卷二百十四.列傳一.后妃傳.
  30. ^ Under the Empress Dowager by J. O. P. Bland, E. Backhouse; 1910, p. 104.
  31. ^ The Last Emperors "A Social History of Qing Imperial Institutions", p. 292.
  32. ^ Marina Warner, The Dragon Empress. p.118
  33. ^ Sterling Seagraves, "Dragon Lady" (softcover, p. 96).
  34. ^ Sterling Seagraves, "Dragon Lady" (softcover, p. 96).
  35. ^ Katherine A Carl, "With the Empress Dowager", p. 130.
  36. ^ Katherine A Carl, "With the Empress Dowager", p. 255.
  37. ^ Boon Ken Lim, "The Chinese crisis from within", p. 45-46.

Literature and Sources

Chinese sources:

  • Draft history of the Qing dynasty. 《清史稿》卷二百十四.列傳一.后妃傳.
  • Qing dynasty’s "Imperial Kinsmen Genealogy" Manchu nationality history, material and value (清代<玉牒>中的满族史资料及其价值)
  • Qing dynasty Wenzong’s veritable records (清文宗实录).
  • Qing dynasty Dézōng veritable records (清德宗實錄).
  • Royal archives of the Qing dynasty (清宫档案).
  • Qing imperial genealogy(清皇室四谱).
  • Niuhuru clan genealogy,(钮祜禄家谱).
  • Biographies of the Qing dynasty consorts (清历朝后妃列传).
  • Weng Tonghe's dairy, (翁同龢日记). Re-isse, ISBN 9787532556700. Published by: 上海古籍 本社特价书.

English literature and sources:

  • Barbara Bennet Peterson, Notable Women of China: Shang Dynasty to the Early Twentieth Century - Page 352, M.E. Sharpe, ISBN 076560504X
  • Lily Xiao Hong Lee, A. D. Stefanowska, M.E. Sharpe, 1998 "Biographical dictionary of Chinese women". ISBN 9780765600431.
  • The Last Emperors "A Social History of Qing Imperial Institutions", Evelyn S. Rawski. ISBN 0-520-22837-5. Published by Univ. of California Press Ltd, London, 1998.
  • Boon Ken Lim, "The Chinese crisis from within". ISBN 9789814022347.
  • A mosaic of the hundred days; Luke S.K. Kwong, Harverd University. Council on East Asian studies.
  • Daily life in the Forbidden City, Wan Yi, Wang Shuqing, Lu Yanzhen. ISBN 0-670-81164-5.
  • Joey Bonner, (1986) "Wang Kuo-wei: an intellectual biography". ISBN 0674945948. Published by Harvard University Press.
  • Tony Teng Yung-yuan, (1986) "Prince Kung and the Survival of the China Rule, 1858-1898". Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International.
  • Hummel, Arthur W., Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period (1644–1912), (U.S. Government Printing Office, 1943). p. 297.

These books are mainly written about Cixi but Ci'an is mentioned in them as well for she lived 29 years alongside her:

  • Sterling Seagraves, "Dragon Lady" ISBN 0679733698. (softcover, ISBN 978-0-679-73369-0)
  • Maria Warner", "The Dragon Empres": Life and Times of Tz'u-Hsi, 1835–1908, Empress of China". ISBN 0689707142.
  • Anchee Min, "Empress Orchid". ISBN 978-0618068876.
  • Mayli Wen (foreword Lulu Wang), "Een vrouw op de drakentroon". ISBN 9054292229.
  • J.O.P.Bland and Edmund Backhouse, (1914) "under the empress dowager" Pages, 322.
  • Derling Yukeng, "Two years in the Forbidden City". ISBN 1404334726. Re-issue published by: IndyPublish.com (2002)
  • Isaac Taylor Headland, (1909)"Court life in China". Published by: New York, F.H. Revell.
  • Katherine A Carl, (1907) "With the Empress Dowager". ISBN 1417917016. Re-issue published by: Kessinger Publishing, LLC .
  • Keith Laidler, (2003) "The last Empress, the she dragon of China". ISBN 0-470-84881-2. Published by: John Wiley & Sons.


Chinese royalty
Preceded by
Empress Xiaojingcheng
Actual predecessor: Empress Xiaoquancheng
Empress of China
Succeeded by
Empress Xiaozheyi
Preceded by
Empress Xiaojingcheng
Empress Dowager of China
concurrently with Empress Dowager Cixi:
Succeeded by
Empress Dowager Cixi

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  • Empress dowager — (Chinese: 皇太后; Chinese pinyin: Húang Tài Hòu, Korean pronunciation: Hwang Tae Hu, Japanese pronunciation: Kōtaigō, Vietnamese pronunciation: Hoàng Thái Hậu) was the title given to the mother of a Chinese, Korean, Japanese or Vietnamese emperor.… …   Wikipedia

  • Empress Dowager Hu — (胡太后, personal name unknown) (d. May 17, 528 [ [http://www.sinica.edu.tw/ftms bin/kiwi1/luso.sh?lstype=2 dyna=%A5 %C3Q king=%A7%B5%B2%F8%AB%D2 reign=%AB%D8%B8q yy=1 ycanzi= mm=4 dd= dcanzi=%A9%B0%A4l 兩千年中西曆轉換 ] ] ), formally Empress Ling (靈皇后,… …   Wikipedia

  • Empress Dowager He — may refer to:*Empress He (Ling), empress and empress dowager of Han Dynasty *Empress Dowager He (Sun Hao), empress dowager of the Eastern Wu of the Three Kingdoms …   Wikipedia

  • Empress Dowager Bo — Consort Bo Empress Dowager of China Reign 180 BC 157 BC Grand Empress Dowager of China Reign 157 BC 155 BC Predecessor Empress Lü Zhi Successor Empress Dou …   Wikipedia

  • Empress Dowager Cixi — 慈禧太后 Regent of the Qing Dynasty Regency 11 November 1861 – 15 November 1908 ( 1000000000000004700000047 years, 100000000000000040000004 days …   Wikipedia

  • Empress Dowager Lou Zhaojun — (婁昭君) (501 562), formally Empress Ming (明皇后, literally the understanding empress ), was an empress dowager of the Chinese dynasty Northern Qi. She was the wife of Gao Huan, the paramount general of Northern Wei and its branch successor state… …   Wikipedia

  • Empress Dowager Dong — (董太后, personal name unknown), formally Empress Xiaocheng (孝成皇后) (died 189) was an empress dowager during Han Dynasty even though she was never empress, because she became mother to an emperor (Emperor Ling). She was blamed for contributing to her …   Wikipedia

  • Empress Dowager Lu Huinan — (路惠男) (412 February 24, 466 [ [http://www.sinica.edu.tw/ftms bin/kiwi1/luso.sh?lstype=2 dyna=%ABe%A7%BA king=%A9%FA%AB%D2 reign=%AE%F5%A9l yy=2 ycanzi= mm=1 dd= dcanzi=%A4%D0%A4l 兩千年中西曆轉換 ] ] ), formally Empress Dowager Zhao (昭太后, literally… …   Wikipedia

  • Empress Dowager Wang Baoming — (王寶明) (455 512), formally Empress An (安皇后, literally the peaceful empress ), semi formally Empress Dowager Xuande (宣德太后), was an empress dowager of the Chinese dynasty Southern Qi. She was never empress, but as she was the wife of Xiao Zhangmao,… …   Wikipedia

  • Empress Dowager Bian — ( zh. 卞太后; Pinyin: Biàn Tài Hòu personal name unknown) (d. July 9, 230 [ [http://www.sinica.edu.tw/ftms bin/kiwi1/luso.sh?lstype=2 dyna=%ABe%C3Q king=%A9%FA%AB%D2 reign=%A4%D3%A9M yy=4 ycanzi= mm=6 dd= dcanzi=%A5%B3%A4l 兩千年中西曆轉換 ] ] ), formally… …   Wikipedia

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