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A look back at lives of ancient Chinese women

    • 2283 posts
    October 11, 2022 8:31 PM EDT

    An exhibition featuring 160 ink-wash paintings, accessories, costumes, daily necessities and other objects is underway at West Lake Gallery through May 8 -- in partnership with four museums to display ancient women's lives through art. In celebration of International Women's Day, the exhibition particularly opened up on March 8. ("the exhibition particularly opened up on March 8" doesn't make sense. Does the exhibition not open until tomorrow? To get more news about women in ancient china, you can visit shine news official website.

    The exhibits are arranged based on the layouts of the gallery's three halls. Via the exhibits' detailed information, visitors come away with a well-rounded picture of ancient Chinese women.

    The first hall primarily features art from ancient boudoirs, encapsulating women's relentless pursuit of beauty. Featuring a wide range of jewelry, clothing and daily necessities, visitors are exposed to changes in social aesthetics and concepts.A Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) copper mirror on display might reflect social expectations of ancient women, engraved with auspicious patterns and Chinese characters "Hi Sheng Guizi" that literally mean " giving birth to a baby."

    When ancient women got married, they were often encouraged to give birth as quickly as possible, and objects carved with patterns of infants always dominated dowries. A dressing table on display that's painted with red lacquer and sculpted with floral patterns represents a classic design of ancient dowries.

    Most dowry items were coated with layers of red lacquer made from cinnabar, a material commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat neurological ailments. The lacquer is moisture-, heat- and corrosion-resistant and never fades on wood. Craftsmen ground cinnabar to produce a smooth texture, aiming to create delicate lines in sculptures.

    The dressing table is emblematic of ancient dowry culture in Zhejiang Province. In ancient times, when a girl was born, her parents would prepare dowries for the future son-in-law's family. After years of preparation, the dowries often included myriad items, from beds and wardrobes to mirrors and bowls. The bigger and better the dowry, the higher the status their daughter would have in her new family.Upper-class women lived a life of luxury, which could be seen in their accessories and costumes. An embroidered cape stitched with symmetrical patterns and adorned with tassels was the epitome of their refined lives. Such a sophisticated cape generally took months to make, and only wealthy families could afford such an item.

    The second hall primarily displays old women-themed ink-wash paintings, through which visitors get a glimpse of the constraints on women's spirituality and emotions under the male dominated norm of ancient society.

    Compared to the vast world of men, women's worlds were full of limitations. Throughout dynasties, women were banned from going to school, and illiterate females were often considered to have better morals.

    Moreover, women were often confined to their bedrooms and had no social lives, because the feudal society held that women should not have contact with the outside world and should devote themselves to their husbands and children.A painting from Qing Dynasty painter Fei Yigeng portrays a woman looking out a window at blooming flowers, drawing attention to her loneliness and longing for the outside world.

    Beginning in the Qing Dynasty, open-minded families allowed their daughters and wives to study literature, calligraphy and painting, which in turn encouraged them to explore self-awareness.

    The last section of the exhibition displays paintings done by educated women. Hui Bing began to study art during her childhood. Her works are different from men's by virtue of subtle emotions, delicate strokes and elaborate layouts -- adored by many modern connoisseurs.

    There's also a space in the exhibition for contemporary female artists, including Shi Hui, Pan Wenxun and Liu Yujun, providing visitors a new angle through which to view the differences between classical and contemporary women.