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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Fragrant Concubine

Those of you who visit here regularly may be wondering how the photos in this post reflect Victoria Daily Photo's mandate to be both current and local. So, here goes: the photo on the left is my tip of the hat to the day's significance as Valentine's Day in that it has a romantic story attached. Also, it is one of the star pieces at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria's exhibition called "The Enduring Arts of China." The photo to the left is not mine. It is from the the Art Gallery's website. It depicts a young woman known as Xiang Fei, who became consort to the Chinese Quianlong Emperor during the 18th century. She was renowned for her beauty but captured the emperor's heart because of the enchanting fragrance she emanated. She was given to him as a gift but he had to struggle for many years to win her love. There is another legend associated with her that is full of passion and intrigue. Those of you who prefer a little more blood in your valentine hearts can read it on Wikipedia.
Doing a little research on this topic reminded me how little we still know of China, despite the opening up of the last few decades. The legend of the Fragrant Concubine is still a popular story in China.
To the left and right are some examples of how she is portrayed today. I came across these during the last few years. These are not antiques or museum pieces though I suspect both are copies of older works. These are items that normal people might use to decorate their rooms.
"The Enduring Arts of China" has many other fascinating and beautiful artworks from China's long, rich history. If you're in Victoria, it's something you should see. It's on until May 6, 2012.

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