The Deeper Beauty of the Tang Dynasty: A Socio-Political Examination of Zhou Fang’s Ladies Wearing Flowers in their Hair


  • Adrian Butler University of Colorado Denver


China, Gender, Art, Art History, Zhou Fang, Handscroll, Court Art


This essay examines the popular "Beautiful Women" genre in art, specifically Zhou Fang's handscroll painting Ladies with Flowers in their Hair, during the Tang Dynasty in China. The piece is a hallmark of the genre, however, on a closer investigation of the painting it reveals a deeper cultural significance. Zhou's painting illuminates gender roles and status of women during the time it was produced. Although thought by many scholars as just another example of the male gaze, the piece offers a glimpse at the ethnographic detail of the Tang imperial court, a social festival that women played a large part in, and women’s more prominent role in society during that time. This essay strives to show that this work is a contribution to not only the history of Chinese figural painting, but an important visual representation of the evolving lives and circumstances of women in the ancient world. Although art historical in approach, an interdisciplinary method is employed in this essay to fully grasp the socio-political elements that are imbued in the work of art.

Author Biography

Adrian Butler, University of Colorado Denver

Adrian Butler graduated from the University of Colorado Denver with a double degree in Art History and Film Studies. Adrian’s studies focus on his passion for art, film, and the performing arts. After graduating, Adrian hopes to become a professor or museum curator.


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How to Cite

Butler, A. (2021). The Deeper Beauty of the Tang Dynasty: A Socio-Political Examination of Zhou Fang’s Ladies Wearing Flowers in their Hair. Wittenberg University East Asian Studies Journal, 44, 55–63. Retrieved from