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Folk art of Trieu Thi Trinh depicted as a 9 foot tall giantess with pendulous breasts riding upon a huge elephant.

Triệu Thị Trinh (Hán Việt: ), also known as Triệu Ẩu () or Bà Triệu (, Lady Triệu) (225 - 248) was a Vietnamesemarker female warrior in 3rd century Vietnammarker who managed, for a time, to successfully resist the Kingdom of Wu during their occupation of Vietnam. She is described as the “Vietnamese Joan of Arc”.

Vietnamese Account


Đại Việt sử ký toàn thư (大越史記全書 Complete annals of Great Viet), written during the Lê Dynasty , said the following about Triệu Thị Trinh:

The Mậu Thìn year, [248], (11th year of Hán Diên Hy (Han Yanxi ); 11th year of Xích Ô (Chiwu )).
The people of Cửu Chân (Jiuzhen (九真)) again attacked citadels, the prefecture was in rebellion.
The Wu king appointed the “Hành Dương” Imperial Secretist Lục Dận [Lu Yin] (some books say Lục Thương) to Inspector of Jiaozhou.
Dận arrived, used the people's respect for him to call them to lay down arms, people surrendered, numbering more than 30,000 households, and the prefecture was once again peaceful.
Afterwards, a woman from the Cửu Chân commandery named Triệu Ẩu assembled people and attacked several commanderies (Ẩu has breasts 3 thước [1.2 m] long, tied them behind her back, often rides elephants to fight).
Dận was able to subdue [her].
(Giao Chỉ records only write: In the mountains of Cửu Chân commandery there is a woman with the surname Triệu, with breasts 3 thước long, unmarried, assembled people and robbed the commanderies, usually wearing yellow tunics, feet wearing shoes with curved fronts, and fights while sitting on an elephant's head, becoming an immortal after she dies).


Viet Nam sử lược (A Brief history of Vietnam), a history book that written in early 20th century by Vietnamese historian Tran Trong Kim, said the following about Triệu Thị Trinh:

In this year on Cửu Chân prefecture, there was a woman named Triệu Thị Chinh who organized a revolt against the Ngô [Wu].

Our [Vietnamese] history recorded that lady Trieu was a people of Nông Cống district. Her parents were dead all when she was a child, she lived with her older brother Trieu Quoc Dat. At the age of 20, while she was living with her sister-in-law who was a cruel woman, she [Trieu Thi Trinh] killed her [sister-in-law] and went to the mountain. She was a strong, brave and smart person. On the mountain, she gathered a band of 1.000 followers. His brother tried to persuade her from rebelling, she told him: "I only want to ride the wind and walk the waves, slay the big whales of the Eastern sea, clean up frontiers, and save the people from drowning. Why should I imitate others, bow my head, stoop over and be a slave? Why resign myself to menial housework?".

The Mậu Thìn year, [248], because of the cruelty of Ngô [Wu] mandarins and misery of people, Trieu Quoc Dang revolted in Cửu Chân prefecture. Lady Trieu led her troops joined her brother's rebellion, soldiers of Trieu Quoc Dat made her leader because of her braveness. When she went to battles, she usually wore yellow tunics and rode a war-elephant. She proclaimed herself Nhụy Kiều Tướng quân (The Lady General clad in Golden Robe).

Giao Châu Inspector Lục Dận sent troops to fight [her], she [Trieu Thi Trinh] had managed to fight back the Ngô [Wu] forces for 5 or 6 months. Because she was lacking troops and fighting alone, she [Trieu Thi Trinh] could not manage to fight a long war and was defeated. She fled to Bồ Điền commune (present-day Phú Điền commune, Mỹ Hóa district) and then committed suicide.

Later, the Nam Đế (Southern Emperor) of Early Lý Dynasty praised her as a brave and loyal person and ordered [his followers] build her a temple, and gave her the title of "Bật chính anh hùng tài trinh nhất phu nhân" (Most Noble, Heroic and Virgin Lady). Present day in Phú Điền commune, in the Thanh Hóa province there is a temple [for her].

Other Account

In the book Vietnamese Tradition on Trial, 1920-1945 written by David G. Marr, an American Professor, told the story of Trieu Thi Trinh as follow: Trieu Thi Trinh was a nine feet tall woman who had three foot long breasts. She also had a voice which sounded like a temple bell, and she could eat many rice pecks and walk 500 leagues per day. Moreover, Trinh had a beauty that could shake anyman's soul. Because of repeated altercations, she killed her sister and went to a forest in which she gathered an small army and attacked the Chinese. When her brother tried to persuade her from rebelling, she told him:

"I only want to ride the wind and walk the waves, slay the big whales of the Eastern sea, clean up frontiers, and save the people from drowning.
Why should I imitate others, bow my head, stoop over and be a slave?
Why resign myself to menial housework?"

After hearing Trinh's words, his brother decided to join her. At first the Chinese underrated Trinh because she was a woman but after some encounters, they feared her because of her gaze. On a battle where Trieu Thi Trinh surrounded a Chinese port, Chinese general made his troops kick up lots of dust while they fought naked making her flee in disgust so her small army lost upon which she committed suicide.

After death, Trinh continued haunting the Chinese general and forced him to defend by drawing one hundred penises and hanging them over the door. Three centuries later, she still offered spiritual support for male Vietnamese opponent of the Chinese. In the Ly Dynasty she was honored by the court with a lot of posthumous titles. During the Le Dynasty, Neo-Confucianism became Vietnam's national ideology and many scholars aggressively tried to bring the practices of Trieu Thi Trinh into conformity with Neo-Confucianism. Nevertheless, she survived all their manipulations.

Historical differences

There is some historical differences between the Chinesemarker and Vietnamesemarker accounts however. Chinese records makes no mention of Trieu Thi Trinh. All available information in regards to Trieu Thi Trinh come from solely from Vietnamese sources. For example the Sanguozhi (Records of the Three Kingdoms), a classical Chinese historical account, does mention about a rebellion at this time in the commanderies of Jiaozhi (交趾; Vietnamese: Giao Chỉ) and Jiuzhen (九真, Vietnamese: Cửu Chân) as following:

“In the 11th year of Chiwu [248] in Jiaozhi (交趾), Jiuzhen (九真) rebels attacked walled cities which caused a great uproar.
Lu Yin (陸胤) [of Hengyang marker ] was given rank of the Inspector of Jiaozhou by the Sovereign of Wu.
He took his troops and entered the southern border and sent word to the rebels.
He used his craftiness to convince them to accept his terms.
[In] Gao Liang (高涼), the commander Huang Wu (黄吳) with 3,000 households came out to surrender.
Lu Yin now led the army south to that region.
He announced his sincerity [to the aborigines] and distributed gifts.
The [remaining] 100 rebel leaders and 50,000 households, who had been unruly and unapproachable, kowtowed [to Lu Yin].
Thus the territory was handed over peacefully.
At once Lu Yin was given the rank of General who Tranquilizes the South.
Again he was sent on a punitive expedition against the rebels in Cang Wu (蒼梧).
He defeated them quickly.
From start to finish Lu Yin's military troops totaled 8,000.
(Later commentaries also cited that Lu Yin then helped to plant crops and kept the people fed.)”

Keith W. Taylor, an American professor, explained these differences as following:

“Chinese records do not mention Lady Trieu; our knowledge of her comes only from Vietnamese sources.
From this it is evident that the events of 248 were remembered differently by the two sides.
The Chinese only recorded their success in buying off certain rebel leaders with bribes and promises.
The resistance led by Lady Trieu was for them simply a king of stubborn barbarism that was wiped out as a matter of course and was of no historical interest.
On the other hand, the Vietnamese remembered Lady Trieu's uprising as the most important event of the time.
Her leadership appealed to strong popular instincts.
The traditional image of her as a remarkable yet human leader, throwing her yard-long breasts over her shoulders when going into battle astride an elephant, has been handed down from generation to generation.
After Lady Trieu's death, her spirit was worshipped by the Vietnamese.
We owe our knowledge of her to the fact that she was remembered by the people.”


Lady Trieu's rebellion was not only the last Vietnamese rebellion to be led by a woman but also the end of a late political ideals inherited from Lac lord.

Triệu Thị Trinh is a greatly celebrated Vietnamese heroine and many streets are named after her in Vietnamese cities (there are Đường Bà Triệu Streets in Huế, Hanoi, Saigon, and several other cities).



  1. Complete annals of Great Viet, ed. Kỷ, vol. 3, see also original Chinese text version, page 7
  2. ( online equal source, look for the word "Triệu Ẩu". Please note that this online source is a bit different on naming style because it was converted from a different edition of the book "Việt Nam sử lược". In older editions, real name of Lady Trieu was Triệu Ẩu but in newer editions Trần Trọng Kim changed Triệu Ẩu to Triệu Thị Chinh(Trinh) [Trần Trọng Kim, op. cit., p.44])
  3. Taylor, op. cit, p. 91

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