We return to China, where the Tang Dynasty has embarked on a golden age of culture and cosmopolitanism. In the valleys of Sichuan, a monk begins to carve the largest statue built in pre-industrial history. And in Chang'an, the world's largest and most international city, a young girl begins the path which would take her to the throne. And in Beijing, a half-Sogdian will launch the revolt that will bring everything crashing down.
Katy and Nathan from the Queens podcast drop by to talk about Wu Zetian, the only ruling Empress in China's long history. The chroniclers reviled her as a monster, but we take a closer look at this woman who dominated her country for 50 years.
Listener Jake volunteers to talk about his time in Sichuan, visiting the Giant Buddha, and eating Sichuan's famously delectable cuisine, fueled by tongue-tingling sichuan peppercorns.
Speaking of cuisine, we dig into Gong Bao Chicken, the real thing, with all its sweet, spicy, crunchy goodness.
Clements, Jonathan. Wu: The Chinese Empress Who Schemed, Seduced and Murdered Her Way to Become a Living God
Keay, John. China: a History
Lewis, Mark Edward. China's Cosmopolitan Empire: the Tang Dynasty
Rough Guide to China
Photo by Ariel Steiner