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The nine bestowments (Chinese :九錫; pinyin :jǐu cì) were awards given by Chinese emperors to officials, ostensibly to reward them for their accomplishments. While the nature of the bestowments was probably established during the Zhou Dynasty, there was no record of anyone receiving them until Wang Mang. Thereafter, the nine bestowments became typically a sign of a powerful official showing off his complete control of the emperor and establishing his intent to usurp the throne. For the rest of Chinese history, it became rare for a usurpation to happen without the nine bestowments having been given sometime before, and just as rare for the nine bestowments to be given without an usurpation happening, however, an example of the latter was Cao Pi giving Sun Quan the nine bestowments in 221 when Sun was briefly Cao Wei's vassal. Conversely, officials who made important contributions and were offered the nine bestowments would decline them to show their loyalty and lack of intent to usurp the throne.
The nine bestowments according to the Classic of Rites, and their meanings, explained in the Han dynasty commentary Bai Hu Tong :
The reason why the character 錫 (usually pronounced xī in modern Mandarin and meaning "tin") is used, rather than the expected 賜 (cì, meaning "bestowment"), is that 錫 was used as a jiajie (假借, 'rebus') character for "bestowment", interchangeably with 賜 during the times when the ceremonies were first established in the Classic of Rites . Thus, the semantically correct modern reading should be jiǔ cì and not jiǔ xī.
|Wang Mang||5||Han Dynasty crown prince Ruzi Ying||Xin dynasty||Creator and first recipient of the title. Usurped the Han Dynasty while serving as regent and founded the Xin dynasty.|
|Cao Cao||213||N/A||N/A||His son Cao Pi would usurp Emperor Xian of Han and found Cao Wei.|
|Sun Quan||221||N/A||Eastern Wu||Granted by Cao Pi after Sun Quan offered to nominally be a vassal of Cao Wei.|
|Sima Yi||249/250||N/A||N/A||Stripped Cao Shuang of all his positions and had him executed a short while later in what is known as the Incident at the Gaoping Tombs, thereby resulting in him serving as the de facto paramount political authority in Wei, and subsequently paving the way for his successors Sima Shi (eldest son), Sima Zhao (second oldest son), and Sima Yan (grandson). Although he rejected the nine bestowments on both occasions.|
|Sima Zhao||263||N/A||N/A||First Jin ruler as Duke of Jin from 263 until 264, then King of Jin from 264 until his death in 265. His son, Sima Yan, would force Cao Huan to abdicate to him in 266, and declare himself the Emperor of the Jin dynasty.|
|Sima Jiong||301||N/A||N/A||Granted title for his role in restoring, and becoming regent for, the developmentally disabled Emperor Hui of Jin.|
|Sima Ying||301||N/A||N/A||Granted title for his role in restoring, and becoming regent for, the developmentally disabled Emperor Hui of Jin (he declined the bestowment).|
|Sima Yong||301||N/A||N/A||Granted 3 of the 9 bestowments for his role in restoring Emperor Hui.|
|Zhang Mao||323||N/A||Former Liang||Founded Former Liang, received the nine bestowments in return for his submission to Han Zhao.|
|Shi Hu||333||Shi Hong||N/A||Deposed his cousin and became the emperor of Later Zhao.|
|Qifu Gangui||394||N/A||N/A||Granted title by Emperor Fu Deng of Former Qin in order to secure his aid and loyalty.|
|Huan Xuan||403||Emperor An of Jin||State of Chu||Usurped Emperor An of Jin and attempted to found the Chu dynasty before being suppressed by Liu Yu.|
|Qiao Zong||409||N/A||Western Shu||Led a rebellion against the Jin dynasty and declared the state of Western Shu, which then became a puppet state of Later Qin, and was granted the nine bestowments by Emperor Wenhuan of (Later) Qin.|
|Liu Yu||418||Emperor Gong of Jin||Liu Song dynasty||Given the nine bestowments and the title Duke of Song, then forced Emperor An of Jin to bestow upon him the additional title Prince of Song, although he publicly declined it. He later deposed Emperor An, and installed Emperor Gong of Jin on the throne in 419, from whom he would eventually accept the title Prince of Song in fall 419, and whom he would usurp a short while later, founding the Liu Song dynasty in 420.|
|Xiao Daocheng||479||Emperor Shun of Liu Song||Southern Qi||Killed the young, but himself cruel Emperor Houfei in 477, then put Emperor Shun of Liu Song on the throne, from whom he would receive the nine bestowments in 479, and whom he would usurp, and exterminate the clan of, in the same year.|
|Xiao Yan||502||Emperor He of Southern Qi||Liang dynasty||As Xiao Yan was besieging Jiankang, Xiao Baojuan's own associates assassinated him in 501. He was granted the nine bestowments from the latter's co-emperor, Emperor He of Southern Qi, in 502, whom he would usurp in the same year, and then go on to have killed a while later.|
|Gao Yang||550||Emperor Xiaojing of Eastern Wei||Northern Qi||Gao Yang's father, Gao Huan, started consolidating his power during the reign of Emperor Xiaowu of Northern Wei, which caused the emperor to flee, splitting up the empire, and making Gao Huan choose Emperor Xiaojing in the new state of Eastern Wei as his replacement. However, it was Gao Yang who, after his father's death, would receive the nine bestowments in 550, and then go on to usurp the throne from Emperor Xiaojing in the same year, whom he would later poison in 552.|
|Hou Jing||551||Xiao Dong||State of Han||Captured the capital of Liang and briefly declared himself emperor before being defeated by imperial forces.|
|Chen Baxian||557||Emperor Jing of Liang||Chen dynasty||Chen Baxian appointed Emperor Jing of Liang to be the next ruler of the Liang dynasty in 555, as he was the only surviving male heir of the previous ruler Emperor Yuan of Liang, but he deposed him in 557 to found the Chen dynasty, and had him killed in 558.|
|Yang Jian||581||Emperor Jing of Northern Zhou||Sui Dynasty||He came to hold the regency over the young Emperor Jing of Northern Zhou after the death of the latter's father, Emperor Xuan of Northern Zhou. After the Northern Zhou general Yuchi Jiong became suspicious of Yang Jian's intentions, he launched a rebellion against him, but was defeated, after which Yang Jian eventually seized the throne as Emperor Wen of Sui, and shortly thereafter had Emperor Jing and his entire clan exterminated.|
|Wang Shichong||619||Yang Tong||State of Zheng||Usurped Yang Tong of the Sui Dynasty during the transition from Sui to Tang, attempted to found a new Zheng dynasty before being defeated at the Battle of Hulao by Li Shimin.|
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The following is the order of battle for the Battle of Red Cliffs.
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