The Mysteries of Empress Wu Zetian

The Mysteries of Empress Wu Zetian

One of the greatest and most influential of people who ruled China was the Empress Wu Zetian, who ruled around the turn of the 8th century CE, during the Tang Dynasty period. She was also the only woman ever to have held such a position in Chinese history.

Her reign was one in which some of the greatest cultural achievements were either inaugurated or completed, and she stands paving the way for the zenith of Buddhist influence in China. She was therefore a person of outstanding interest both for the history of China, and of Buddhism in China.

Despite this, there are a number of mysteries surrounding her, some of which are inexplicable even to this day, and these two films focus on these areas of debate and try to present the various arguments surrounding them in an even-handed manner.

Even her name, which now sounds so familiar, is a recent invention, as although she was known by many names during her reign, Wu Zetian was not one of them, and the name only came to the fore in the 18th century.

Another mystery is her birthplace, which has a number of contenders and ardent support from partisans on all sides. Perhaps the greatest mystery though is why after such a successful reign a 7.5m pillar was erected, which unlike all other steles of its kind, was left uninscribed.

The film, besides examining these matters does, of course, give general information on the reign of the Empress, and it also shows many Buddhist artworks, providing a very interesting background to one of the most important reigns in China’s history.

 

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