Consort Ban

Consort Ban (c. 48 BC? — c. 6 BC), or Ban Jieyu, (Chinese: 班婕妤; pinyin: Bān Jiéyú; Wade–Giles: Pan Chieh-yü, and also known as "Lady Pan") was a Chinese scholar and poet during the Western han dynasty (206 BC – AD 23). Jieyu was a title for a concubine, her personal name is not known.


Consort Ban started as a junior maid, became a concubine of Emperor Cheng and quickly rose to prominence at court . She bore him two sons, but both died in infancy. Once she declined an invitation to ride in a palanquin because she feared to distract him from matters of state. She was also renowned as a great scholar, able to recite poems from the Shi Jing and a lot of other texts.

Because neither the Empress Xu nor Consort Ban produced him an heir, the Empress Dowager Wang Zhengjun encouraged him to take more concubines. Around 19 BC, however, Emperor Cheng took a liking to the dancing girl Zhao Feiyan and her sister Zhao Hede. They were both made concubines and he favored them over Empress Xu and Consort Ban. In 18 BC both the Empress and Consort Ban were accused of witchcraft. Empress Xu was put under house arrest away from court, but Consort Ban pleaded her case. She used citations of Confucius and made a speech that impressed the emperor and he allowed her to stay at court. She then chose to become a lady in waiting to the Empress Dowager, instead of remaining consort to the Emperor. Consort Ban became part of the emperor's funeral park after his death in 7 B. C. E. and died a year later .

Personal information

Consort Ban once saved her brother Ban Zhi from a charge of treason. Ban Zhi who was to become the father of the historian Ban Biao. He in turn had a son and a daughter, Ban Gu and Ban Zhao, who would complete their father's historic work Book of Han.


In the famous poem attributed to her ("Resentful Song"), she compares herself to an autumn fan that is discarded. It deals with her sorrow at having been abandoned by the Emperor and is written in the yuefu style of poetry. However, there is a certain historical doubt about the attribution of this song to her, especially since it is not mentioned in her grand-nephew Ban Gu's autobiography of her.

Her poems were read for many centuries after her death.

Inclusion in the Lienü zhuan

Her biography was included in the Confucian classic Biographies of Exemplary Women (Lienü Zhuan) compiled by the han dynasty scholar Liu Xiang. Consort Ban's biography is part of Scroll 9, titled Supplemental Biographies (新刊續列女傳).

Last update 06-06-2012

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