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Concubine Qi

Concubine Qi (戚姬 pinyin qi1 ji1) (d. 194 BC), also known as Qi Ji or Lady Qi (戚夫人), was the beloved concubine of Liu Bang, the first emperor of the Chinese Han Dynasty. She was called by some as Qi the Benign (戚懿 yi4).

She was born in Dingtao Prefecture (定陶), Shandong Province during late Zhou Dynasty. Liu Ruyi (劉如意 pinyin liu2 ru2 yi4), later entitled the Prince of Zhao, was their son. Ruyi's personality resembled that of Liu Bang and because of this, Bang was reluctant tried several fruitless times to acknowledge Ruyi as the crown prince in place of Liu Ying, mainly objected by his biological mother Queen Lü Zhi,. Hence Lü hated Qi deeply. Nevertheless Bang ordered Liu Ruyi to return to his entitled land at Handan County on his deathbed. Qi did not accompany Ruyi.

Lü, now declared the empress dowager of her emperor son soon after Liu Bang passed away, commenced a inhumane plot against Qi and Ruyi, which was well documented:

The emperor Liu Ying resided Ruyi in the palace and checked for poison in any aliment delivered to him. Ying also brought Ruyi with him wherever he went. In one early morning in the twelfth month of the first yeat of Emperor Hui, the emperor must attend a shooting ritual; this time Ruyi was left alone since he could not wake up early. Ying supposed her mother would not plot against his brother as several months of secured days came and went. Nevertheless Dowager Lü had someone forced venom down Ruyi's throat....She then chopped off Qi's arms and legs, blinded her by scooping out her eyes, dumbed and abandoned her to live in restroom, and insulted her as "the Human Pig" (人彘). Several days after, Empress Dowager Lü recalled Emperor Hui to have a look of "the Human Pig". After knowing who "the Human Pig" was, the weak emperor was so sick of Lü's cruelty that he virtually relinquished his authority, withdrew himself to carnal pleasures. [Records of Grand Historian, ch.9, p.397]

Qi died in the first year of Liu Yang's reign.

Her connection to the game of Go

Qi had a maid who escaped and later married to Duan Yu from Fufeng Prefecture (West of Xian in Shaanxi Province). She described Qi as a very beautiful woman, a great singer, dancer and Go player. On the fourth day of August every year (which did not mean August 4; China was using a different calendar at the time), Qi would play a Go game with Liu Bang in the bamboo forest on the north side of the palace. The winner would make a wish that they believed to come true. Qi won every year and wished for good fortune. Obviously this graceful aspiration did not work or her life would not have been so tragic.

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