Organized Panel Session
Amongst the various interactions between the so-called “barbarians” and Han Chinese, intermarriages were one of the most strategic policies employed. Yet, intermarriages with the Xiongnu were regarded as humiliating during the Han dynasty. When a Han-Chinese princess was sent as a human medium to be married to a non-Han ruler, they were historically christened hefan Princesses. The term hefan comprehensively reflects the Han Chinese perception of disparity in the relationship between the two groups: fan denoting “barbarians” who should be pacified for peace, he.
However, intermarriages during the Sixteen States and Northern Dynasties periods reveals the transformation of the human medium of princesses. To be precise, the application and portrayal of the princesses adapted to the evolving status quo. Differing from the time of the Xiongnu, intermarriage policy, or rather the application of princesses, adapted into a policy of the equal-level exchanging of princesses. Furthermore, in this paper, I propose that during this period, the female players of the intermarriages shed any association with the word hefan and should be called linhe Princesses (literally, “to become friendly with one’s neighbor”), the original designation used for a Rouran Princess who married Gao Zhan (r.561-565), the future Emperor Wucheng of Northern Qi. By analyzing the frequency of the exchanges of princesses, and their roles and status at their new respective courts, this paper argues that the adapted intermarriage policy with the newly framed portrayal of princesses during this period demonstrates a desire for coexistence.