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Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder-Women in Chinese Painting

Updated: 2014-11-29 13:15:42

( Chinaculture.org )

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China has a long history of using women as objects d'art since the Warring States and Western Han Dynastywhen people painted female figures on silk.

Each time in history has its own idea of 'beauty' and from early times artists have recorded their particular version of 'beauty'. Artists in China are no different. Throughout the ages, the image of the 'ideal' beauty has been subject to the trends and politics of the times, and through their legacies we can gain a better understanding of Chinese history.

Even though paintings of women were common, women did not gain respect because of it. In the paintings women are only beautiful objects to show or admire. It is possible to link the growth of women depicted in art and a lowering of their social status.

 Southern and Northern Dynasties

The early stages of traditional Chinese depictions of beauty began in the Southern and Northern Dynasties (420-589). Virtuous women and fairies composed the main subjects in these paintings, and they generally came from literary works.

Luoshen Appraisal Painting

"Luoshen Appraisal Painting" by Gu KaizhiEastern Jin Dynasty(317-320) is a good example. Its theme was drawn from the story Luoshen Appraisal, penned by the famous writer of the Three Kingdoms (220-280) Cao Zhi, who was forced to part with his lover. Luoshen is the Goddess of the river Luo.

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