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