The Lady's Pass (Niangzi Pass)

The brave princess and her army

By Simatai Great Wall

Dong Yaohui

Niangzi Pass (Lady's Pass) by Yang Dong / TuchongSimatai Great Wall

Origin of the name

Niangzi Pass is the most important pass on the Great Wall section at the foot of the Taihang Mountains in Shanxi province. 

According to historical records, it was formerly called Weizeguan. In the early Tang dynasty (618-907), Princess Pingyang, the third daughter of the founding emperor, and her army were once garrisoned here and built the fort. This is why the pass was renamed the Lady's Pass.

In Chinese history, Princess Pingyang was a great heroine who was proficient in martial arts. Even after she married General Chai Shao, she kept her bow and arrow close, and her sword never left her side. The fort is surrounded by precipitous mountains and ravines, making the terrain treacherous. Looming over the valley, the solid ancient fortification resembles the female general in armor, guarding her homeland down the Taihang Mountains. 

Niangzi Pass (Lady's Pass) by Lao Tan664 / TuchongSimatai Great Wall

Princess Pingyang and her army

After Li Yuan rose against the Sui dynasty, Chai Shao, the husband of the future Princess Pingyang, left to join the rebellion. The future princess recruited fugitives from all parts of the country using her wealth, and organized an army commanded by herself. She attacked and captured several cities and grew her army to 70,000 people. This army then became known as the “Army of the Lady”, impressing the entire country. 

Niangzi Pass (Lady's Pass) by Yang Dong / TuchongSimatai Great Wall

The brave princess

Back in the days when Princess Pingyang and her troops were garrisoned here, the rocks, hard as iron, were not met by the gaze of a gentle woman, but by the formidable glow of her sword. What sublime imagery this is!

Great Wall at Niangzi Pass (Lady's Pass) by Laotan664 / TuchongSimatai Great Wall

The Great Wall on Taihang mountains

On the southeast side of the fort, the Great Wall winds like a dragon on top of the towering mountains. On the west side, the Tao River tinkles all year round. A barrier was formed by dangerous mountains, river valleys and the Great Wall. There are also more than ten ancient cultural sites, including a village, a cave, a temple, and a watchtower, many of which are said to be relics from the period when Princess Pingyang was stationed here.

Niangzi Pass (Lady's Pass) by Lao Tan664 / TuchongSimatai Great Wall

The fort has two gates: the east gate was built from bricks with the characters "Zhili (ancient district name) Niangzi" written on it, and a platform was built on top of the gate for inspecting the troops and looking out for enemies.

The Niangzi fort is divided into two parts: the upper part in the east and the lower part in the west. In front of  the south gate, there is only a stone trail with a 45-degree slope to travel on. Standing on the fort and looking around, you will see mountain ranges and clear water beneath. The Niangzi fort stands on the edge of the precipice against the cloud-shrouded mountains, overlooking a deep valley and the tortuous Great Wall built along the mountainside. 

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