They are unique and captivating. They are also, surprisingly, controversial proving that debate over female beauty, particularly as it relates to weight, is anything but a modern issue. The series of earthernware female figures are part of an exhibition of Tang Dynasty treasures excavated near” Xi’an, China, dating back more than 1000 years. Although particularly notable for their extravagant, sometimes multiple, chignons, it’s their apparent “plumpness” (the official description) that has been the cause of comment.
“There have been two specious claims about the female image in the Tang dynasty: that women tended to expose their cleavage and that society considered plumpness as the main form of beauty,” says the official brochure to the exhibition currently on display in Sydney’s Art Gallery of New South Wales, continuing. “… both are subjective misconceptions that result from