What is the one thing that makes Queen Duong Quy Phi favored by the king despite her “smelly” body?

Duong Ngoc Hoan, also known as Duong Quy Phi (719 - 756), was the beloved consort of Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty. Her life as a renowned beauty has been the subject of numerous works of poetry, film, and painting.


The beauty of Duong Ngoc Hoan is described as every time you look at a flower, the flower withers out of shyness (Tu Hoa). Duong Huyen Tong is obsessed with Duong Quy Phi – a beauty 34 years younger than him to the point of marrying her daughter-in-law as his concubine.

According to historical records, initially, Vo Hue Phi – the concubine of Duong Minh Hoang chose Duong Ngoc Hoan (then 17 years old) to be the wife of Tho Vuong Ly Mao (the 18th son of the king). Therefore, Duong Minh Hoang, who was over 50 years old at that time, was the father-in-law of Duong Ngoc Hoan.

Immediately after seeing the beautiful and captivating daughter-in-law, Duong Minh Hoang wanted Duong Ngoc Hoan to become his concubine. Therefore, after the death of Vo Hue Phi, Duong Minh Hoang used the excuse of having the daughter-in-law become a Dao Si (female Daoist) to mourn for his mother-in-law.

Duong Quy Phi, also known as Duong Ngoc Hoan. She was originally blessed with beautiful looks and ranked among the Four Beauties of Chinese history.

Unlike the image of the queen, the imperial concubine “graceful as a swan, pretty as a plum blossom” seen in movies, Duong Quy Phi possesses a full figure that shows vitality.

Knowing that her name is associated with her appearance in historical records, but how did she turn this “wing” into a strategic weapon to win the Emperor’s favor?

A perfectionist in makeup and skincare

Her fair complexion with a rosy peachy hue, the plumpness of a grapefruit are the most noticeable advantages of Duong Quy Phi. Even though she has the natural beauty that makes the most beautiful flower in the garden bow in respect, she never neglects her skincare routine.

Every day she washes her face with a carefully prepared mixture of eggs, musk, and almonds. The concubine also applies a medicine called “Kim Quoc Cung Nu Nhi Tu Tan” to nourish her skin. Its ingredients include: silkworm cocoon, white frangipani, green beans, white cloves, white tea leaves, and white Poria cocos that are ground and mixed thoroughly, then applied to the face and body to nourish the skin.

Duong Quy Phi also attaches great importance to beauty rituals that start from the inside out. To keep her bust always plump and captivating to the Emperor’s eyes, Duong Quy Phi often eats papaya. Ripe papaya and papaya soup are frequently included in her menu

But how did she make the Emperor “addicted” to her…armpit smell?

Among the Four Beauties of ancient China, Duong Quy Phi probably possesses a more difficult to accept weakness. Having a “special” sweat gland, her body odor is very strong, to the point that it surprises people in the world because they can’t understand why a beautiful woman would have such a serious case of “wing inflammation”.

Unwilling to give in, she found her own way to suppress this weakness.

The imperial concubine often uses strawberry leaves and acacia leaves to boil bathwater for antibacterial and body odor neutralizing purposes. Or to avoid high temperatures causing bathwater to deteriorate, she soaks the above ingredients in purified water and uses it gradually.

Taking a hot mineral bath brings many miraculous benefits for one’s health, but for Duong Quy Phi, this is also a way for her to suppress her “wing” odor. She also has her maids pluck various fragrant flowers to soak in the bath instead of applying perfume on her body. With Duong Quy Phi’s perfectionist personality in beauty, it is not surprising that the Emperor was infatuated with the renowned beauty because of this “inflammatory wing” smell.

Frequently asked questions

Duong Huyen Tong, also known as Duong Minh Hoang, became obsessed with Duong Ngoc Hoan’s beauty and wanted her as his concubine. She was initially chosen to be the wife of his son, Tho Vuong Ly Mao, making Duong Minh Hoang her father-in-law. Despite the age difference, he was determined to make her his own.

Duong Quy Phi was the name given to Duong Ngoc Hoan when she became a concubine. She was already known for her exquisite beauty, ranking among the Four Beauties of Chinese history. After the death of Vo Hue Phi, Duong Minh Hoang used the pretext of having his daughter-in-law become a Dao Si to mourn for Vo Hue Phi, allowing him to make Duong Ngoc Hoan his concubine.

Unlike the graceful and delicate image often associated with royalty, Duong Quy Phi had a full figure that exuded vitality and health. She was known for her fair complexion with a rosy peachy hue and her attention to skincare and makeup rituals.

Duong Quy Phi was meticulous about her skincare routine. She washed her face with a mixture of eggs, musk, and almonds, and applied a nourishing medicine called “Kim Quoc Cung Nu Nhi Tu Tan” made from silkworm cocoon, white frangipani, green beans, white cloves, white tea leaves, and white Poria cocos. She also consumed papaya to maintain her bust’s plumpness. Additionally, she used strawberry and acacia leaves to boil her bathwater for antibacterial and odor-neutralizing effects.

Duong Quy Phi had a unique challenge with her body odor due to a “special” sweat gland. Instead of masking it with perfume, she found natural ways to suppress it. She often took hot mineral baths and soaked in bathwater boiled with strawberry and acacia leaves for their antibacterial properties. She also had her maids pluck fragrant flowers to soak in her bath, creating a subtle and natural fragrance.

Duong Quy Phi’s perfectionist approach to beauty, combined with her unique body odor, created an allure that captivated the Emperor. Her attention to skincare, makeup, and natural fragrance suppression techniques likely contributed to the Emperor’s infatuation with her renowned beauty.
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