Women of the Tang Dynasty: The Genius of China a Close Up Guide (Genius of China Close-Up Guides) (英語) ペーパーバック – 1999/11/15
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Women in Tang society enjoyed experimenting with ways to enhance their charms. Not only enthusiastically adopting fashion styles of foreigners who thronged the capital of Chang'an, they were also some of the earliest cross-dressers in history. Through a close-up look at excavated pottery figures and surviving gold and silver objects, a picture emerges of a remarkably open society in which women took an active part. The Close-Up series is the very first of its kind to give you a fascinating, concise introduction to individual aspects of China and its peoples, past and present. Each topic is presented by chosen experts in their fields who write with brevity for the intelligent reader. Illuminating text is supported by the work of international photographers and with maps and diagrams to give a picture that satisfies curiosity and encourages further reading.
May Holdsworth was born in Shanghai and has been writing about China for 20 years. Among her books is The Forbidden City, an account of the imperial palace in Beijing.
Names of historical figures are dropped into the middle of the text without any context. The only women discussed are concubines and wives in the royal palace. The images of the pottery figurines are clear and lovely, I'll give you that, but I'm sure you could find just as lovely images (and many more of them) online. NO citations. I have no way to follow up on even the paltry suggested historical information given, most of which seems to be pulled from myths and hearsay. A few poems were used to support some claims of beauty fads, which is the most positive historical element of the text. I'm going to do what I can to research the suggestion of cross-dressing or the adoption of foreign fashions, as well as the cosmetic trends of painting the forehead, moth eyebrows, and beauty patches. Those are the bits of information I could glean, and I still don't know anything about them.
This is not a children's book (the text is not directed to young readers at all), it is not an introduction book (it doesn't offer any ideas for further reading), and it is not a scholarly book (it doesn't say much beyond the hearsay level of information). Also it doesn't say what the summary on the back says it will say! I'm not sure what it's intended audience is. So I don't know anyone I would recommend it to. Don't buy it.
First, the Tang Dynasty and particularly in the early Tang Dynasty, history records as era of advancement for women at a time and place when this was not part of the culture or the times.
Second, the terra cotta, clay sculpture of the Tang Dynasty seems to reflect the new cultural respect for women. Tang sculpture of women is historically very special. It was one of the break-thru eras in art: similar to, say, the Terra Cotta Warriors of the Qin Dynasty, or Sharaku's famous portraiture of actors, or the sculpture of the human form by the Greeks (ie.Kouroi) or by Michaelangelo in the Renaissance. It is also recent enough so we can still see the intentions of the artists as regards paint colors at the time when such paint chemistries were being invented.
Anyway, the book is well worth the price which is amazingly affordable.