Ou Shoukun 王昭君
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
Ch: Wang Zhaojun. A beautiful court lady of the Former Han dynasty mistakenly sent to the Huns 胡. Her family name was Qiang (Jp:Shou しょう) and she was given the posthumous title Sima Zhao (Jp:Shiba Shou 司馬昭). She also was called Mingjun (Jp:Meikun 明君) and Mingfei (Jp:Meihi 明妃). In the first year of Jingning 竟寧 (33 BC), the leader of the Huns or Xiongnu (Jp:Kyoudo 匈奴) petitioned the Han emperor Yuan to give him a Han court lady for a wife. A court painter was asked to make portraits of all the concubines. Wang Zhaojun alone refused to bribe the artist, and out of spite, the painter made an ugly portrait of her. When the emperor saw it he decided the "unattractive" woman was the most expendable of his ladies. The day came to send her away, and when the emperor saw Wang Zhaojun for the first time he was taken with her great beauty. However it was too late to make any change, and Wang Zhaojun was sent to the Xiongnu to become an unwilling queen. Eventually she bore several children, but died and was buried in the barbarian land without ever returning to China. There are several variations of the story as to how she was sent to the north, but her unhappy association with the barbarians is constant. Paintings of Wang Zhaojun crossing into the northern land, known either as Mingfei Chusai (Jp:Meihi shussai 明妃出塞) or simply Chusaitu (Jp:Shussai-zu 出塞図), date from the Jin dynasty scroll of Gong Suran (Jp:Kyuu Sonen 宮素然; Osaka City Museum). Later images show her riding in a carriage or on horseback, typically carrying a bow and arrow, biwa 琵琶, and hawk. The theme was popular with Japanese artists from the Edo period, a notable example being that by Iwasa Matabee 岩佐又兵衛 (1578-1650; Asian Art Museum, San Francisco).


(C)2001 Japanese Architecture and Art Net Users System. No reproduction or republication without written permission.