Home Art and cultureTomb of Fu Hao Queen, Priestess, and General of Shang Dynasty
Tomb of Fu Hao Queen, Priestess, and General of Shang Dynasty

Tomb of Fu Hao Queen, Priestess, and General of Shang Dynasty

Winter of 1975 witnessed an exciting news from the Chinese archaeologists: they found the Tomb of Fu Hao legendary Great Queen of Shang Dynasty. Initially, they came to a small village in Anyang North-Eastern China. They were asked to come there examining whether any agricultural projects can be carried out on that plot of land. But this simple task turned out to be a professional excavation that needed further research in the following decades. They found an entrance into the tomb of a royal figure of history. The tomb dated back to the time of Shang dynasty which ruled over Yellow River valley during the second millennium BC.

Inside the Tomb of Fu Hao
Inside the Tomb of Fu Hao
The statue of Fu Hao Queen outside her tomb in Anyang
The statue of Fu Hao Queen outside her tomb in Anyang

The tomb yielded nearly 2,000 artifacts of good, bronze-wear, weapons, and jade artifacts. A treasure of 6,900 cowry shells was there. Back to the Shang Dynasty, cowry shells were their main currency. Sacrificial human and animal bones were excavated as well.

The tomb of Fu Hao was a single large pit with the 5-meter mouth gate. A small put below contained remains of six dogs as well as skeletons of 16 humans nearby. Inside the pit was a small chamber where a rotten coffin lay.

The excavation of Fu Hao Tomb
The excavation of Fu Hao Tomb

Of course, an ordinary free man back then couldn’t afford such luxurious tomb. Only those who came from royal family or high military rank deserved this type of burial mound. The inscriptions there revealed that the owner of the tomb was Fu Hao or Lady Hao.

Fu Hao: The Queen, the Wife, and the General

Fu Hao (妇好) was one of 64 wives of King Wu Ding. Before dwelling into her life, we should take a look at her name. “妇” (Fu) referred to the courtly position of woman back then. Because of this, her name is now translated into “Lady Hao”. Legend had it that for each neighboring tribe, King Wu Ding would marry a princess or a royal woman. Simply saying, this was a politically-orientated marriage yet this type of marriage was not that easy.

Fu Hao was among of them. But with the intelligence and talent, Fu Hao finally rose to her power and became one of three important wives of King Wu Ding.

With all materials we have, King Wu Ding did appreciate and cherish Fu Hao a lot. The King once came to ask for oracles about Fu Hao’s health, pregnancy, and whether he should grant Fu Hao 13,000 soldiers for a battle.

In the inscriptions, we found out that King Wu Ding repeatedly instruct Fu Hao how to host a ceremonial ritual which was not a task done by woman in ancient history. This showed how much trust and confidence that the King had in Fu Hao.

In the meantime, Fu Hao was a military General and also a war-band leader in her time. She once led her warriors into many battles on behalf of the King. It was found in the inscriptions that King Wu Ding once asked the oracles whether he should gave Fu Hao 13,000 soldiers to fight against the neighboring Qing tribe. Interestingly, this attack was the largest military activity in the inscriptions. Also, Fu Hao as a military general joined many battles and brought victory to her kingdom.

Artifacts from the Tomb of Fu Hao
Artifacts from the Tomb of Fu Hao
Jade figurine found inside the tomb of Fu Hao
Jade figurine found inside the tomb of Fu Hao
Turquoise inlay ivory cup excavated from the tomb of Fu Hao
Turquoise inlay ivory cup excavated from the tomb of Fu Hao

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *