MIL-OSI China: An aura of mystery

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Source: China State Council Information Office 3

A new book focuses on the lifestyle of women in ancient China.

Author and researcher Meng Hui has spent years studying the lifestyles of ancient Chinese women. [Photo by WeiEI Kongyuan/for China Daily]In today’s stereotypical mindset, Parisian women fascinate people around the world with their je ne sais quoi quality, a mixed sense of style, self-confidence and insouciance. It is perhaps not so well known that the aura of elusiveness has been a pursuit of Chinese women, upper-class women in particular, for thousands of years.
In the recently published book Meiren Tu (Portraits of Beauties), author and researcher Meng Hui elaborates on the lifestyle of ancient Chinese beauties and their ingenious skills in manufacturing an aura of mystery.
An iconic story mentioned in the book is about a princess consort of the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Every spring, she cut silk into small petal-shaped pieces, stuck them together as flowers, and sealed them in a spice-filled jar. When it came to the days of public outings, she dressed up as a commoner, taking only one escort with her, and walked among the crowds. Occasionally when she came across a pleasant scene, or when the spring breeze swept past, she deliberately dropped a few scented silk flowers from her sleeves. If someone picked up the flowers out of curiosity, they would find that they never perished and had an enduring fragrance, which was distinct from that of common flowers.
Therefore, legend goes that the capital was graced by a divine presence, a reincarnation of some “tree goddess”.

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