Renditions nos. 59 & 60 (Spring & Autumn 2003)

Renditions nos. 59 & 60 (Spring & Autumn 2003)

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The Faces of a Chinese Beauty: Wang Zhaojun

Wang Zhaojun was a Han court lady who volunteered to marry the Xiongnu Khan in 33 BC. Her plight, and her place as one of the four great beauties of China, have fascinated poets, playwrights, painters, and politicians for two thousand years. She has been portrayed by generations of writers as pitiable, courageous, wise, or patriotic, though such depictions reveal more about the authors than about Wang herself.

The most representative of the poems, plays, stories and paintings celebrating this beauty are featured in this special double issue. In these pages the reader will find a broad spectrum of Chinese cultural attitudes and perceptions of women through the centuries.

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