Imperial Noble Consort Zhuangjing
|Imperial Noble Consort Zhuangjing|
|Died||1890 (aged 52–53)|
|Issue||Gurun Princess Rong'an|
|House||Tatara (by birth)
Aisin Gioro (by marriage)
|Imperial Noble Consort Zhuangjing|
Imperial Noble Consort Zhuangjing was born in the Manchu Tatara (他他拉) clan. Her personal name is unknown. Her father was Qinghai (慶海), a zhushi (主事; a type of official post). Born in 1837, she entered the Forbidden City in 1850 during the auditions for the Xianfeng Emperor's consorts. Lady Tatara was shortlisted as a candidate and given the rank of Noble Lady under the title "Noble Lady Li" (麗貴人) in 1852. Two years later, she was promoted to "Imperial Concubine Li" (麗嬪). During her time as a consort of the Xianfeng Emperor, she was said to be the most beautiful woman in the Imperial City and was bestowed with a natural grace and allure. Written descriptions about the beauty of Lady Tatara are among the most illustrious and elaborate of Qing dynasty historical texts; they somewhat differ from the passive mentions of beauty and virtue in descriptions of other Qing dynasty imperial consorts and better resemble vivid descriptions of beauties in the historical records of earlier Han Chinese-led dynasties.
In 1855, Lady Tatara gave birth to the Xianfeng Emperor's only daughter, who is known by her title "Gurun Princess Rong'an". Due to the emperor's intense and near monopolic love for her, their daughter was made a Gurun Princess against tradition. According to Qing dynasty imperial regulations, only the daughters of empresses were qualified to be Gurun Princesses; all other daughters of the emperor were to be Heshuo Princesses. During the princess's "three baths" (洗三) ceremony, Lady Tatara was promoted to "Consort Li" (麗妃). It is said that Lady Tatara was the Xianfeng Emperor's favourite and most charming consort, and that he spent most of his nights with her. On the other hand, Lady Yehenara, another of the emperor's consorts, only caught the emperor's attention during and after Lady Tatara's pregnancy. This was because the emperor was not allowed to have sex with Lady Tatara in the 100 days after she gave birth.
In 1860 Lady Tatara fled with the Xianfeng Emperor, his empress, and other consorts to Rehe Province when Anglo-French forces closed in on Beijing during the Second Opium War. The Xianfeng Emperor died in the following year and was succeeded by Lady Yehenara's son, Zaichun, who was enthroned as the Tongzhi Emperor. Because Lady Tatara had served the Xianfeng Emperor for many years, and was widely acknowledged to be the emperor's favourite consort, she was promoted to "Imperial Noble Consort Li" (麗皇貴妃). During this time, she lived in the Palace of Eternal Harmony (永和宮) in the eastern part of the Forbidden City.
In January 1875, the Tongzhi Emperor died and was succeeded by his cousin Zaitian, who was enthroned as the Guangxu Emperor. Lady Tatara was honoured with the title "Dowager Imperial Noble Consort Li" (麗皇貴太妃). Her daughter died in February 1875 at the age of 19 after suffering a miscarriage upon hearing news of the death of her brother (the Tongzhi Emperor). Official histories recorded that Lady Tatara was often sick and she died from illness in 1890. The Guangxu Emperor ordered members of the imperial clan and officials to wear mourning garments for a day. Lady Tatara was buried in the Dingling Mausoleum for imperial consorts in Hebei three years later, alongside Noble Consort Mei (玫貴妃), who died seven days before her. She was granted the posthumous title "Imperial Noble Consort Zhuangjing" (庄靜皇貴妃) by the Guangxu Emperor.
- Seagrave (1992), p. 36.
- Imperial Archives of the Qing Palace.