Sunday, May 8, 2011

Ancient Chinese Women - 618-907 A.D

During the Tang Dynasty, approximately 618-907 A.D., the feudal system flourished. Political power stabilized, as officials were elected through the Imperial Examination System, a system that provided everyone an equal opportunity to become a court officer. Many innovations were made, such as woodblock printing, and Buddhism was first introduced to the Chinese culture during the Tang Dynasty. As the economy prospered, Ancient Chinese depictions of beautiful women also developed, as people began to value larger women.

Contrary to the typical slender, pale, small-footed woman, the new image of a beautiful woman that emerged in China at this time was plump and voluptuous. Artworks began to glorify women who valued self-indulgence. More fat on a woman’s body symbolized her wealth, a quality that became increasingly attractive during the Tang dynasty. As the society reached a cultural peak, art began to reflect the carefree, luxurious life of aristocratic women (Chinese Folk Culture).

The painting of two Tang women and the sculpture, Tomb Figure of a Lady Holding a Pekinese, exemplify women’s beauty during the ninth century. In the sculpture, the woman’s stance causes her stomach to thrust forward, immediately bringing the viewer’s attention to her stomach. Her puffy cheeks and thick neck suggest that she is a healthy woman who can afford an excessive amount of food. In the painting, the women’s colorful, elegant clothing demonstrate the perks of being an aristocratic woman. The golden, vibrant background only further emphasizes how extravagant life was during the Tang dynasty. Rather than valuing ideal women, the Tang Dynasty valued healthy, upper class women.

Chinese Folk Culture. Tang Dynasty. <>


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