Yang Kuei-fei

Yang Kuei-fei (yäng gwā-fā) [key], 719–56, concubine of the T'ang emperor Hsüan-tsung. The most famous beauty in Chinese history, in legend she is said to have captivated the emperor who then neglected state affairs. She adopted An Lu-shan, a general of Turkic origin, as her son and helped him win power at court. But a power struggle over control of the central government between An Lu-shan and Yang's brother led to An's rebellion in 755. Fleeing the capital before the rebels captured it, angry royal guards, who blamed Yang Kuei-fei and her brother for the rebellion, forced Hsüan Tsung to order their execution. The emperor soon abdicated. Yang Kuei-fei's love story and its tragic end have been a favorite theme for Chinese poets and writers.

See S. Wu, Yang Kuei-fei, The Most Famous Beauty of China (1924).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.