Whenever individuals or organisations perceive threats to the “family”, they speak as if the monogamous union of one man and one woman has been sacrosanct since time immemorial for all humanity. They fail to consider polygamy, historically a viable matrimonial arrangement for many peoples, including Hebrews, Indians, Koreans and Chinese. Monogamy may be enshrined in law today, but for the Chinese up until the 20th century, it was socially and legally acceptable to have a family that consisted of one man and several women. Naturally, polygamy often occurred among the rich, as considerable means were needed to support several women (and sometimes their relatives). The polygamist par excellence in imperial China was always the emperor. Whether it was to produce male heirs to carry on the dynasty, or simply because they could, emperors had multiple consorts – from several to several thousand – in their palaces at any one time. There’d always be just one empress ( huanghou ), the principal wife, but the number of consorts differed according to dynasties and emperors. The last Qing dynasty (1644-1912) allowed for, in order of descending rank, one huangguifei (imperial noble consort), two guifei (noble consorts), four fei (consorts), six pin (imperial concubines) and an unspecified number of guiren (noble ladies), changzai (first-class attendants), daying (secondclass attendants) and gongnü (housekeeping maids) whose duties included sleeping with the emperor.