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Frontiers of Literary Studies in China

Front Liter Stud Chin    2012, Vol. 6 Issue (2) : 277-293
research-article |
From Immortality to Mortality: Images of Tang Courtesans in Verse, Painting, and Anecdote
Jing Wang()
Department of Languages and Culture Studies, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC 28227, USA
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This paper examines different modes of representation of the courtesan in the poetry, painting and anecdotes of the Tang dynasty, and the implications of the disparities between these genres. Examples of courtesan poems idolized these entertaining girls and featured a poetic approach that drew on early romantic depictions of goddesses. The courtesan was presented as an immortal woman, given a transcendental dimension. These elements were echoed and reinforced in visual depictions in grotto or mausoleum murals. Stories from the Beili zhi (Records of the northern quarter), a collection of anecdotes about courtesans in Chang’an by a contemporary Tang scholar, show a different set of criteria for immortality. The author held up to his readers a more realistic and faithful mirror of the courtesan’s manners and life.

Keywords courtesan      scholar official      transcendence      Beili zhi (Records of the northern quarter)      mural     
Corresponding Authors: Jing Wang,   
Issue Date: 05 June 2012
 Cite this article:   
Jing Wang. From Immortality to Mortality: Images of Tang Courtesans in Verse, Painting, and Anecdote[J]. Front Liter Stud Chin, 2012, 6(2): 277-293.
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