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Within China, besides the more direct consequences of her struggle to gain and maintain supreme power, Wu's leadership resulted in important effects regarding social class in Chinese society and in relation to state support for Taoism, Buddhism, education, and literature.Wu Zetian also had a monumental impact upon the statuary of the Longmen Grottoes and the "Wordless Stele" at the Qianling Mausoleum, as well as the construction of some major buildings and bronze castings that no longer survive.The exact birth name of Wu Zetian is no longer retrievable.She changed her name to Wu Zhao after rising to power, often written as 武曌, (曌 has also been written as 瞾 on occasion, and both are derivatives of 照, which possibly is her original name), with 瞾 being one of the invented characters by Wu.Born Wu Zhao, she is not properly known as "Wu Hou" until receiving this title in 655, nor is she properly known as "Wu Zetian", her regnal name, until 690, when she took the title huangdi.
Her father Wu Shihuo was engaged in the timber business and the family was relatively well off. During the final years of Emperor Yang of Sui, Li Yuan (李淵) (who would go on to become Emperor Gaozu of Tang) stayed in the Wu household many times and became close to the Wu family, whilst holding appointments in both Hedong and Taiyuan.'Emperor Wu,' however, invites confusion with various other rulers who attracted the honorary epithet - the unfortunate imitator of Ashoka who was starved to death, for example - and so most Western historians have balked at giving her the ruling title she actually awarded herself, though in East Asian languages it is possible to distinguish 'empress as female emperor' from 'empress as imperial consort.' But her family name seems to have been found so apt by contemporaries and by their descendants that it stuck fast, outlasting even the semi-divine titles that she invented for herself: a ninth-century Japanese visitor found her referred to simply as 'Granny Strong.' Various Chinese titles have been translated into English as "empress", including "empress" in both the sense of empress consort and empress regnant.