Princess Taihe - Background and Entry Into Marriage

Background and Entry Into Marriage

It is not known when Princess Taihe was born, although it is known that she was a daughter of Emperor Xianzong (r. 805–820) and Emperor Xianzong's wife Consort Guo, and that she was younger than her full brother Li Heng, who was born in 795. She was Emperor Xianzong's 10th daughter over all.

Late in Emperor Xianzong's reign, Huigu, then reigned by Baoyi Khan, made repeated overtures to request a Tang princess to be married to Baoyi Khan under the Heqin system. Eventually, after a mission headed by the Huigu diplomat Hedagan (合達干), Emperor Xianzong agreed to have Princess Taihe's older sister Princess Yong'an married to Baoyi Khan — but as Emperor Xianzong died in 820, the marriage never took place. After Baoyi Khan died in 821 and was succeeded by Chongde Khan, Chongde Khan continued to seek marriage with a Tang princess, and he sent a delegation including a number of officials and two Huigu princesses, along with a bride price of horses and camels. Later in 821, Li Heng, who was by now emperor (as Emperor Muzong), agreed to marry Princess Taihe to Chongde Khan. When another neighbor state, Tufan, became aware of the Tang-Huigu marriage, it was incensed and attacked Fort Qingsai (青塞堡, in modern Yulin, Shaanxi), but the Tufan attack was repelled. On August 28, she departed the Tang capital Chang'an, escorted by the general Hu Zheng (胡証), assisted by the other officials Li Xian (李憲) and Yin You (殷侑). Anticipating a possible attempt to Tufan forces to intercept Princess Taihe's train, Huigu forces were dispatched to escort them as well as to attack Tufan's borders. Emperor Muzong issued an edict permitting Princess Taihe to maintain a staff on the same level of staffing as an imperial prince.

Princess Taihe's train did not arrive at the Huigu court until late 822. When they approached the Huigu court, Chongde Khan sent a group of several hundred soldiers to welcome her and escort her to the Huigu court, but Hu declined on the basis that his mission was to escort the princess to Chongde Khan and therefore he had to complete that final leg of the mission. After they arrived at the Huigu court and an appropriate date was set, Chongde Khan created her as Khatun — the Khan's wife. The wedding, as described by the Book of Tang, went in this manner:

The Khan first ascended a tower and sat to the east, and set up a tent under the tower for the Princess. He sent a group of Huigu princesses to teach the Princess in the ways of Huigu. The Princess took off her Tang robes and put on Huigu robes. Accompanied by an old woman servant, she exited the tent and approached the tower from the west, bowing. The Khan sat and accepted her bow. She then bowed again and then reentered the tent. She took off her robes and put on Khatun robes, and all of her clothes were madder-colored. She also bore a gold crown with protrusions like horns. She then exited the tent and again bowed to the Khan. A large litter was set up, with a small seat in the front. A fortune teller assisted her in ascending the litter, and the chieftains of Huigu's nine tribes bore the litter. They made nine right turns before stopping at the tower. The Princess then descended from the litter and ascended the tower, and she sat with the Khan in the same eastern direction. The Huigu officials then bowed to both the Khan and the Khatun. The Khatun had her own headquarter tent, and two chancellors served her.

Before Hu and his staff were ready to depart, Princess Taihe held a feast for them, and it was said that she wept for over a day and kept them for that duration, before they actually departed. Chongde Khan awarded them with great treasure.

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