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Narration

NARRATOR:

This sturdy-looking female astride a camel is evidence of the robust ideal of female beauty celebrated during the Tang Dynasty, which lasted from 618 to 907 A.D. It was a time of prosperity in China, when the international trade route known as the Silk Road was flourishing, spreading wealth across Europe and Asia and promoting the intermingling of cultures.

SUZANNE CAHILL:

The Tang Dynasty is the only period when there was a woman emperor on the throne. It is usually considered the golden age of many, many things, including the golden age for women. And it certainly does not mean that women were not subordinate to men. But that women just seemed to have more room to do things, like be poets or be heads of convents, or interact in politics.

NARRATOR:

The three mirrors to the left are also from the Tang Dynasty. Made of bronze, they have a higher percentage of tin which gives them their distinctive silvery color.

SUZANNE CAHILL:

Both men and women used them. The men used them to straighten their cap ties. They had cap strings that were part of their official outfit that they had to wear to court. And they had to have it all very straight. And then the woman would use it to apply makeup.

NARRATOR:

A ribbon was threaded through the knob on the back, so the mirror-- believed to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck-- could be worn on clothing or attached to a stand. Like the lady and camel statue, these mirrors are material evidence of the far-reaching influence of the Silk Road. The two of them are inscribed with grape vines, which were brought to China from Persia.

Step31-Tang Dynasty Mirror and a Lady on a Camel


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