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An Ancient Chinese Sex Scandal: Qin, the First Emperor

Gloria taught for many years, and also worked as a mental health group facilitator.

A Scandal Paves the Way for a New Empire..

Statue of the First Emperor. Courtesy Travel

Statue of the First Emperor. Courtesy Travel

A glimpse of the Terra Cotta Army and the underworld of Emperor Qin. Courtesy Travel

A glimpse of the Terra Cotta Army and the underworld of Emperor Qin. Courtesy Travel

Great wall with brooding storm. Photo courtesy of China

Great wall with brooding storm. Photo courtesy of China

Mount Lee, Tomb of the First Emperor. Photo courtesy China

Mount Lee, Tomb of the First Emperor. Photo courtesy China

Warriors awaiting restoration to their full glory.

Warriors awaiting restoration to their full glory.

Half buried..the farmer who found the statues thought they were ghosts.

Half buried..the farmer who found the statues thought they were ghosts.

By Gloria Siess {"Garnetbird"}

In 1974 a farmer in Western China uncovered what he felt to be a ghost: a clay figure of an Qin Warrior. Luckily, Archaeologists stepped in and with careful, precise work, unveiled an entire city beneath the earth. It was like no other discovery in the annals of science: rows and rows of terra cotta soldiers, rivers of mercury, bronze horsemen, cranes, and a dome that glittered with artificial stars. Objects inscribed with the name of China's Prime Minister at that time revealed it to belong to the First Emperor, Qin Shi Huang.

Qin's rise to the status of First Emperor took place on the heels of a shocking sex scandal. Qin's Mother had been having sexual relations with Lao Ai, a well-endowed man who was believed to have been a eunich. Not only was he not a eunich, but his sexual prowess with the Queen Mother was so appreciated, she fell in love and conspired against her own son. They secretly had two children together, and the ambitious Lao Ai sought to dislodge the young Qin and place his own son on the throne of China. To make matters worse, Qin's trusted Prime Minister joined the sorrid plot and sided with Lao Ai.

DIsgusted and outraged, Qin prevailed with the help of his palace guard and army, killing the traitors (including the children) and banishing his mother from court. He would never trust women due to this terrible betrayal, and would never marry and take a Queen. Many lovely concubines would share his bed and bear him children--none would be granted any special legal status.

Qin sought to unify China, and with the help of advanced weaponry (The Cross-Bow, for one) and good generals, pushed his kingdom into war after war. A military genius, his ruthless methods worked quite smoothly: if you lost a battle, you were punished. If you brought back the head of your enemy, you were promoted and rewarded. Qin Warriors (as depicted in the Terra Cotta Statues) were famous for bravery. One after one the neighboring kingdoms fell, costing as many as 1.2 million lives. In roughly ten years Emperor Qin, who declared himself to be a God, had subdued and tamed China, standardizing weight, measures, and written language.

Qin was feared for his cruelty. Minor infractions were met with terrible mutiliations. Spies and traitors were torn apart by horses. Any offense was met with efficient torture or brandings. He showed no mercy and trusted few. As he aged his paranoid mind imagined conspiracies everywhere--no one was safe. Random attacks on China's borders demanded that a great wall be built. Qin transcripted men of all ages into what would amount to grueling slavery, killing many in the process. To be sent to build the Great Wall became tantamount to a death sentence in a gulag or concentration camp. Hated and feared, the Emperor began to fear that spirits and ghosts in the afterworld were stalking him. Even as his great Tomb and Underworld was being constructed, Qin demanded potions of youth to keep him from dying. Documents refer to the First Emperor, the "Tiger of Qin," as ingesting toxic mercury in hopes of immortality.

One of the most fascinating stories from this period has to do with a Ghost. According to legend, the Ghost of a Qin Warrior appeared after midnight to some guards, announcing that Qin had displeased the ancestors with his brutality, and would soon die. This occurred after Qin had burned ancient books in China, and forbade citizens to own books. He had also buried 460 scholars alive as a demonstration of his contempt for learning. A dynamic ruler, Qin had no patience with Ancient Chinese Wisdom and parables. Besides, reading encouraged free thinking and Qin was hopelessly paranoid by this time. By all accounts, by 211 B.C. Qin was mentally ill and waning, moving from palace to palace in fear of conspiracy and murder.

When he passed on (due in part, no doubt to mercury poisoning), his circle at court feared a rebellion and covered his coach with rotting fish, to disguise the odor of death as they passed through the countryside. The tomb at Mount Lee was ready, and Qin took his place as he put it, "Master of the Underworld, neocropolis of the dead.." His staff and all concubines who had not borne children were buried alive with him in his underworld. (a not uncommon practice in ancient China).

Today over two million visitors a year come to view the Terra Cotta Soldiers and the monument to the First Emperor. The statues are being restored by local artists to reflect the glory that was once ancient China, in brilliant hues. No one has opened the actual tomb of Emperor Qin, nor is it likely they ever will.


Gloria Siess (author) from Wrightwood, California on June 03, 2016:

Oh wow!! Fascinating.

Ced Yong from Asia on June 02, 2016:

Well written hub! On one of the more juicy segments of Imperial Chinese history.

So it was rumoured, Qin him was possibly an illegitimate child. His really was said to be Lu Buwei instead of Qin royalty. In fact, some "wild" history state that Lu Buwei (a merchant who became premier) became so tired of Qin's mother's endless sexual demands, that he arranged for the fake eunuch to entertain her.

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Cybil Castil on August 20, 2014:

if Emperor Zheng is notorious and had a bad reputation, I still admire him for being a strong and powerful leader.

Gloria Siess (author) from Wrightwood, California on September 25, 2012:


QuickieBear on September 24, 2012:

Try to convert it over to a R-rated movie...Hmmm I wondered hows the BO's like?

Gloria Siess (author) from Wrightwood, California on July 18, 2012:

You made my night! THANK you!!

surefire on July 18, 2012:

Fascinating story. I like history and love to write about it also and your hub has given me many new ideas - especially to explore the Asian history and find something interesting enough to write about.

BTW. the pics are great - great wall specially

A thumbs up!

Gloria Siess (author) from Wrightwood, California on October 26, 2011:

Thank you--this was fun to write..

andrebreynolds on October 23, 2011:

Great information and well written hub!..Very interesting and the photos are really good.

Gloria Siess (author) from Wrightwood, California on October 16, 2011:

Thank you--love your owl, by the way.

platinumOwl4 on September 07, 2011:

I think this is a great hub and I would love to know more about this period, from you.

Gloria Siess (author) from Wrightwood, California on May 25, 2011:

Absolutely! Thanks for reading!

TorremochaJ on May 23, 2011:

I think in ancient days, strong and powerful personnel command more sex specially those who are in the rank of generals where most people afraid of them and offer their daughter for them.

Gloria Siess (author) from Wrightwood, California on April 21, 2011:

Amazing--I agree--it seems rather risky altogether, put that way! Thank you for reading and commenting!

Jsmart on April 20, 2011:

Fascinating! I read or heard someplace that the reason that the Chinese Government will not open the tomb is due to a conflict of interests, in that they (like the Japanese) respect/revere Ancestor Worship, and possess a strong belief in their view of an afterlife: to open up the tomb to the light of day could (it was claimed) release the spirit of this once powerful monarch; and cast bad omens upon those responsible.

Gloria Siess (author) from Wrightwood, California on February 25, 2011:

Thank you--yes, it does seem like a movie at that!

PaperNotes on February 24, 2011:

Wow! China indeed has a very interesting history. This reminded me of a film by Jackie Chan. I just can't remember the title.

Gloria Siess (author) from Wrightwood, California on October 08, 2010:

Thank all of you for your kind are very much appreciated!

sujju from mangalore, india on October 07, 2010:

interesting,exciting n a beautiful hub.....thanks for the information......

Ellelackey on October 06, 2010:

Yes, I agree, I also found this hub very intresting and quite informative. I do believe Qin's behavior WAS due to betrayal, but I disagree, he did not do much for china navp. Still, thankyou for the very intresting and informative hub, Elle

navp on October 06, 2010:

Interesting and I learned a lot from this one. Chinese tradition, culture and history is very rich indeed. psychologically speaking, Qin's behavior maybe -- is a product of what happened to him and the betrayal of his mom. Still, he made China into what it is now, he is part of history.

Thanks for this nice hub,

mikiy on October 06, 2010:

Such an interesting! This is categorized under History but I'd say this is more of story than history and I think that's why it caught our interest. Thank you!

EliKen on October 06, 2010:

Step mothers and fathers could never be trusted...


kazemaru2 from usa on October 05, 2010:

Another unexpected story from the Far East it just shows how history is never complete so many gaps in our understanding. Especially with the whole eunuch situation.

tristand on October 05, 2010:

Hubs like these just go to show you that history doesn't have to be boring. I only wish there were more of these floating around!

coltenk from Bonney Lake, WA on October 05, 2010:

I love learning about history such as this! It's quite interesting what you can find buried wherever you are. Just makes you wonder...

Gloria Siess (author) from Wrightwood, California on October 03, 2010:

I need to write some more history Hubs; right now I'm kind of working on a children's book and feel a bit scattered; THANK you for your lovely, kind comments.

kkgifts from Florence, SC on October 03, 2010:

I enjoyed your hub very much. I saw this on a documentary a few months ago. It's a great story. You made it very interesting.

Benson Yeung from Hong Kong on October 03, 2010:

no kidding! Thanks for the great story.

MKayo from Texas on October 03, 2010:

I am such a fan of this part of Chinese history, especially Qin. Very good Hub, was riveted, wish there were more . Thanks for writing this Hub!

Hotel Solvang on October 01, 2010:

Wow.. there are controversies and then there are controversies. Getting found out thousand years later, now there's something to be afraid of.

Garnetbird on September 30, 2010:

THANK you for caring enough to comment/It made my morning brighter!

amorea13 on September 30, 2010:

GarnetBird you write excellently - this is a great hub full of fascinating history and written in a compelling style too - I loved it - thank you. Anymore please?

htc_phone from United States on September 29, 2010:

Nice post! It's a very interesting and informative story.I like it.

Gloria Siess (author) from Wrightwood, California on September 28, 2010:

I recall reading that somewhere..that he actually displayed his penis in a kind of wooden "frame" to attract interested females. Your comment made my day!

Larry Conners from Northern Arizona on September 28, 2010:

Very entertaining and informative Hub...Your Hub has filled in a lot of gaps in my original reading of the Terra cotta army unearthed in China during the 1970's...

Lao Ai, the Rasputin of China, is an interesting character described as being sexually endowed " like a Sherpa's pony "...

Thanks for this historical treat...Larry

Garnetbird on September 28, 2010:

THANK you--it's great to meet people online who are interested in the same things!

Shelly Bryant from Singapore and/or Shanghai on September 28, 2010:

Excellent hub — well written with great information.

I've been planning to write a hub about the Terra Cotta Warriors, and will definitely link to this. I'll put a link up from my China-related website as well.

Thanks for the great information.

vietnamvet68 from New York State on September 26, 2010:

Such a fascinating story, I recall seeing this on the news, you have told the story with great detail. Thanks for sharing.

Gloria Siess (author) from Wrightwood, California on September 25, 2010:

THANK you so much for reading--it made my weekend a lot nicer!!

Sterling Carter from Indian Mound, Tennessee on September 25, 2010:

What a great Hub. I just love to learn stuff like this. Thumbs Up.

Selina on September 25, 2010:

Through this article,I feel you must very interested in Chinese culture.I love too,very much.

viryabo from Lagos, Nigeria. on September 24, 2010:


Never heard of this ancient Chinese scandal and was quite enthralled by the story.

I love anything historical and thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I was so captivated.

Thanks for the enlightenment. Rated up.


Gloria Siess (author) from Wrightwood, California on September 24, 2010:

The Hub states that he was "believed" to be a Eunuch but was having relations with the Queen. One article I read indicated that he had disguised his genitals somehow and, hearing of the Queen's libido, boasted of his sexual equipment. ha. It's an ancient document and somewhat amusing.

Garnetbird on September 24, 2010:

He was passing as a Eunuch, but he was sexually active with the Queen. Thanks for commenting!

? on September 23, 2010:

Nicely written, but how can Lao Ai have fathered children if he was a eunuch? By definition eunuchs have had their testicles removed, precisely to prevent such plots against rulers.

Gloria Siess (author) from Wrightwood, California on September 02, 2010:

Thank you for reading--it makes it all worthwhile!

BeatsMe on September 02, 2010:

Wow. Thanks for the history lesson. I once saw some of these terra cotta, in video that is, in high school. I was too young to appreciate or to try to understand it. Anyway, this hub brought memories of those days. :)

Tony McGregor from South Africa on September 02, 2010:

This is a really fascinating story. Friends of mine saw the Terracotta Army some years ago and came away awestruck by their beauty. I was not aware of all the historical background you have provided here, which is really interesting. I have long wanted to see these figures for myself, but doubt that I every will. You have made me want it more but perhaps need it less!

Love and peace


Gloria Siess (author) from Wrightwood, California on September 01, 2010:

Thank you! Yes, Qin was also abused when he was very young by the Zhou Nation according to historians.

prettydarkhorse from US on September 01, 2010:

Interesting and I learned a lot from this one. Chinese tradition, culture and history is very rich indeed. psychologically speaking, Qin's behavior maybe -- is a product of what happened to him and the betrayal of his mom. Still, he made China into what it is now, he is part of history.

Thanks for this nice hub, Maita

Ivorwen from Hither and Yonder on August 31, 2010:

Thank you for sharing this amazing story. I find it sad to think of all the years the Chinese have lived under one form of oppression or another. I can't imagine what would make someone want their staff and concubines to be buried with them, or those on the other side to carry out such a thing.

suziecat7 from Asheville, NC on August 31, 2010:

Very interesting Hub. Thanks.

Faye Constantino from Florida on August 31, 2010:

This is a very comprehensive hub, and a great story that I didn't know! I had no idea of the details of the Terra Cotta Soldiers! I was completely enthralled by the story. Thank you for sharing this!

salmonjosh6 from Henderson,NV on August 31, 2010:

Very nice article. I found this real riveting and informative. I had heard about this subject at school, but they did not go into this much detail (probably because I was in eighth grade). I would love to see these structures one day in person. Thanks again,I found it really interesting.

Gloria Siess (author) from Wrightwood, California on August 31, 2010:

Me too!! Thank you for reading--this find is just amazing. The Chinese scientists once said the level of contamination might be too much to handle (mercury, etc.?) strange, isn't it? They seem very reluctant to go further with it.

Christopher Antony Meade from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom on August 31, 2010:

Fascinating, and very well written. Thank you. I do hope you are wrong about the tomb never being opened. If they did it would make Tutankhuman's tomb look like a back street pawn shop.

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