How to Dress Your Concubine For Dinner

Shi Hu Jilong called himself Emperor of China; a charming affectation that expressed his ambition of once ruling all of China. To further this ambition, he not only depopulated whole cities, he also gave lavish parties. To impress his guests, he put up a lavish display and served only the best at his table. Tale of his banquets survived; his ambition died with him. 




Shi Hu Jilong lived from 295 to 349 AD and reigned from 334 to 349. He was the foster brother of Emperor Shi Le Shilong for whom he served as a general. He was very successful in his career, if a bit stern and single minded in the execution of his duties. Officers who disagreed with him or, worse, showed a promise of being better tacticians than him were all summarily executed. And the list of cities he conquered and then depopulated in a bloodbath is a long one. 


He eventually succeeded Shi Le as Emperor after first bullying Shi's successor and son for a year. He consolidated his power later by systematically slaughtering all the descendants of the dead emperor along with quite a few of his wives and concubines. He then spent the rest of his life pursuing his dream of conquering all of China, collecting wives and concubines on the way, and giving lavish banquets. 


His need for wives was self-explanatory. They tended to die of beheading if they were unlucky, or being demoted and exiled if they were lucky. His first two wives, chosen by Emperor Shi Le, he loathed. He had them murdered shortly after their marriage. The ups and downs in the fortunes of his later wives had to do with the political luck of their sons, several of which he promoted to being crown prince and then beheaded. 


As his self styled Empire was not strong enough to conquer all of China, his title of Emperor of China remained an affectation. Instead he became posthumously known as Emperor Wu of Later Zhao. His little Empire fell apart in the internecine struggle of his remaining sons after his death. 


As to his banquets, that’s where his concubines come in. Or go out? They play a central role at these festivities, anyhow. The Emperor would have them paraded before him and then chose one of them for the night’s entertainment. The chosen concubine was then beheaded and her body served for dinner. The breasts, by the way, were reserved for the most important guests as they were considered a delicacy. 


To make sure his guests appreciated the succulent feast he set before them, and to prove that he had not stinted in choosing a beautiful concubine to be served up, the head of the concubine was paraded in front of the assembled guests during dinner. I imagine, he needed quite a few concubines for that little bit of ostentation. 


His oldest son was quite another matter, though. He had a woman dressed up beautifully before beheading her. He then ate her all on his own. The Emperor was quite right in beheading that selfish glutton, don’t you agree?


And in case you wondered what Buddha has to with all of this: Shi Hu Jilong was a devout Buddhist. So devout in fact, that he had a carriage built similar to the one depicted in the last two drawings. It was fully automated with two dragons spouting water over the Buddha statue and monk figures revolving around it. The mechanism only worked when the carriage moved, though.

Further reading
Prime Minister for Dinner Anyone?
Royal Correspondence in the Curiosity Cabinet
Reincarnation Every Day