Lady Huang

The Woman Behind the Man

Kong Ming was a chancellor of Shu Han state in China in the early 200's. His name became synonymous with intelligence due to his knowledge and skills as a scholar, inventor, statesman, and military strategist. There are those who maintain that much of his success was due to the intelligence of his wife, Lady Huang. Kong Ming's image always showed him holding a feather fan. This is the story of how he came to possess this feather fan.

As a young man, Kong Ming was a scholar, living a humble life, farming by day and studying with Huang Cheng Yan at night. Master Huang recognized the potential of his young student. Master Huang had a smart and talented daughter, and he thought that the two would make a good match. Kong Ming's parents had passed away, and so the marriage was proposed to Kong Ming directly by Master Huang. The teacher described his daughter to Kong Ming as he had to all her suitors as smart and talented, but homely, with a bad complexion. Kong Ming reacted differently than all the others, responding that he cared not about the young lady's appearance and was only interested in her personality and mind. They were married, and when the bride's veils were lifted Kong Ming must have been quite surprised, as she was beautiful in her appearance, as well as in her personality.

Master Huang had also taken unusual care in the education of his daughter. Lady Huang's teacher had given her a fan that had been inscribed with wisdom about success, governance, warfare, and diplomacy. Lady Huang gave this to her new husband to help him in his career, but also with another motive. She had noticed that he was sometimes impatient and quick to speak, and sometimes put his cards on the table before the time was right. So she told him that he could hold the fan in front of his face while he had important conversations. This would serve the dual purposes of reminding him not to speak too quickly, and to hide his facial expressions which might otherwise have revealed too much about his reactions and intentions.

Kong Ming was discovered by the warlord Liu Bei and became his advisor, and later, when Liu Bei became Emperor, Kong Ming was his Prime Minister. Lady Huang, like most women in ancient China, is not mentioned in official histories, but we can surmise that her husband's successes owed much to her wise contributions.