The Last Eunuch who Served the Last Emperor: Tales From a Lost Age

March 23, 2009

(ChattahBox)—The fascinating book, “Secrets of the Last Eunuch,” written by historian Jia Yinghua, was just made available in English and is generating a lot of interest for its poignant biography of the so called, “last eunuch of china,” Sun Yaoting, who died in 1996 at the age of 93. Sun was brutally castrated by his father, when he was just eight years old so he could serve the Emperor and save his family from poverty. Before Sun died, he told biographer, Jia Yinghua most of his long held secrets about his time as a servant to boy Emperor Pu Yi and his wife, Empress Wuan Kang, who were depicted in the movie, “The Last Emperor.”

During Imperial times, Eunuchs were the only males allowed inside the inner courtyards of the Forbidden City. They were used to guard the Emperor’s harem and were thought to be free of ambition because of their castration and an inability to produce heirs.

Sun’s long and tragic life witnessed the end of the 2,000 year old Qing dynasty, the beginning of Communist rule, the turbulent decade of the Cultural Revolution, and China’s development into an economic powerhouse. Sun offered his insights into all the historical changes that swirled around him, through the filter of his ancient feudal beliefs, accepting of his fate.

Sun’s only had two regrets: the fall of the Imperial system, depriving him of his chance to serve as a true royal eunuch, and the loss of his manhood, called his “treasure”, which was preserved in a jar of alcohol, but thrown away by his parents during the cultural revolution, for fear of reprisal.

When telling Jia his life story, he cried tears only when speaking of his two regrets, especially the loss of his treasure. Eunuchs were buried with their genitalia between their legs, so they could enter the next life as a complete man. Sun was buried without his treasure, afraid before his death that he was doomed to return in his next life as a cat or dog.

When Sun’s father crudely castrated him in 1911 with a sharpened razor blade, he stopped the bleeding with paper soaked in sesame oil and ashes, and stuck a goose quill in Sun’s urethra to prevent it from closing. Sun was in a coma for several days, and was unable to walk for two months. Before Sun could travel to Beijing, the Emperor Pu Yi was deposed; his career as a palace eunuch over before it even started.

However, when Sun was 14, Manchu warlords restored the boy Emperor to the Dragon Throne as a puppet monarchy and Sun began his service in the Forbidden City. The eunuchs that served during the Emperor’s figurehead reign never attained the level of political power as previous royal eunuchs. During Sun’s service as a eunuch, he rose to become the personnel servant of Empress Wuan Kang.

Jia retells in his book, the precious royal secrets that Sun almost took to his death. He finally revealed the Forbidden City dirt, only if Jia promised to give him a decent burial upon his death. Some of the secrets include tales of opium addiction, an out-of-wedlock pregnancy of the emperor’s first wife, and the Emperor’s homosexual tendencies.

Sun stayed on with the Emperor when he was thrown out of the Forbidden City and moved to Manchuria during Japanese domination. From 1949, until his death, Sun lived and worked in a Daoist temple, suffering through the hardships of the Cultural Revolution under Chairman Mao. Eunuchs were particularly mistreated during that time, seen as prime examples of the decadent past. In his final years, Sun was honored as a Chinese national treasure, as the last living Imperial eunuch.

The “Secrets of the Last Eunuch,” is a compelling tale, offering a glimpse into the decadent life inside the royal courtyards of the Qing dynasty in its final days before it disappeared forever.

Source


Comments

One Response to “The Last Eunuch who Served the Last Emperor: Tales From a Lost Age”

  1. Hirishima on October 3rd, 2009 10:58 am

    This book is one of my favourites!

Got something to say? **Please Note** - Comments may be edited for clarity or obscenity, and all comments are published at the discretion of ChattahBox.com - Comments are the opinions of the individuals leaving them, and not of ChattahBox.com or its partners. - Please do not spam or submit comments that use copyright materials, hearsay or are based on reports where the supposed fact or quote is not a matter of public knowledge are also not permitted.