“Perhaps the most interesting of her many auspicious omens was a radish of prodigious size, more than three feet in diameter, unearthed in the fields on the outskirts of Loyang and presented to her.”
N. Harry Rothschild, Longman, 2008
Wu Zhao (a.k.a. Wu Zetian) was a very successful Emperor (not Empress) during one of China’s great ages, but she was also one of the most maligned and most misrepresented of them all. Rothchild does a pretty good job of sorting things out, and his book is highly recommended. Many of things that most surprise or shock us about her and her career were actually normal behavior for Chinese Emperors (if Unique and Lonely Ones can be said to have normal behaviors), but in some respects Emperor Wu Zhao was genuinely original. Her sponsorship of Fa Zang and his Hua Yan (Kegon) school of Buddhism deserves special notice; some call Fa Zang the greatest of all Buddhist philosophers.