Uncovering the History of Chinese Concubines: Examining Beauty Standards in the Past

Unearth the past of Chinese concubines to ascertain if attractiveness was beyond physical appearance. Delve into a realm of secrets and discoveries, where beauty and wisdom were intertwined in a complex web of intrigue. Uncover what lay beneath the glossy veneer, as you explore the depths of this enigmatic culture.

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Mysteries have been a part of history since the dawn of time, but none more so than the culture of Chinese concubines. What was it that made them so captivating? Was it just their beauty or something else? To uncover these secrets, we must take a journey back in time to explore the hidden world of concubines.

We will delve into their roles within society, from political advisors and confidants to trendsetters and beauty standards. We’ll examine how they were perceived by those around them – both positively and negatively – and investigate what lay beneath their glossy exteriors. We’ll also look at the complex relationships between concubines and their masters, examining the bond they shared and how it shaped both parties’ lives. Finally, we will probe whether attractiveness was based solely on physical appearance or if there was something more to it.

By delving into the enigmatic culture of Chinese concubines through its history, we can gain insight into why they held such an allure for centuries.



The notion of the allurement of Chinese concubines is a perplexing one, with many elements to be taken into account. Looking back in time, it is essential to comprehend the purpose that these concubines served in Chinese culture and the various social norms which surrounded them. Generally speaking, physical beauty was highly regarded when it came to selecting concubines, and affluent men were known to have multiple wives and concubines as a way of displaying their wealth and standing. While some concubines were picked for their beauty, others were selected based on their talents or contacts. In the end, beauty standards varied greatly depending on the era and location, thus making it impossible to give an exact answer as to whether or not Chinese concubines were generally considered attractive.

– Historical Accounts of Chinese Concubines’ Beauty

Throughout the ages, Chinese concubines have been renowned for their unparalleled beauty. Ancient texts are filled with descriptions of these women’s fair skin, glossy black hair, and delicate figures – all described in poetic language that emphasizes their desirability.

The earliest record of a Chinese concubine’s beauty can be found in the ancient text “The Book of Songs,” which dates back to 1000 BCE. Here, a poem praises a woman for her enchanting features: “Her eyes are like stars, her lips are like cherry blossoms, her figure is slender and graceful.” This poem shows that even in ancient times, Chinese concubines were seen as symbols of beauty and attractiveness.

In later centuries, accounts of Chinese concubines’ beauty became more intricate and descriptive. For example, Tang Dynasty poet Li Bo wrote about a beautiful concubine named Yang Guifei in his work “The Song of Eternal Sorrow.” He detailed her features with great care: “Her eyebrows are like willow leaves; her eyes are bright and clear; her cheeks are rosy; her lips are red like coral; her teeth shine like pearls…” Li Bo’s description reveals that Chinese concubines’ beauty was not only appreciated but also praised through literature and poetry.

Chinese concubines remain an integral part of Chinese culture today – celebrated for their grace and allure throughout history. Ancient texts provide vivid descriptions of their physical features, while poets use words to capture their charm and beauty.

– The Role of Imperial Concubines in Ancient Chinese History

The part imperial concubines played in ancient Chinese history is an essential factor to grasp the culture and customs of that period. Selected from aristocratic families and presented to the emperor as a demonstration of loyalty, these women were obligated to serve him, provide companionship, and give birth to his children. Even though they had no political authority, their impact was immense and far-reaching.

The primary responsibility of imperial concubines was to be a companion to the emperor. They would accompany him on journeys and attend important ceremonies or events with him, offering emotional support while also demonstrating his wealth and power. Furthermore, they were responsible for bearing offspring for the ruler; having multiple sons was seen as a sign of strength in ancient China, thus any sons born from these unions could be tutored to become future leaders or government officials, ensuring someone loyal to the ruling family would take over if needed.

Moreover, imperial concubines had many other tasks such as entertaining guests, supervising servants, and managing daily operations at court. Their presence created a luxurious atmosphere which further increased the emperor’s status among his subjects.

In conclusion, imperial concubines were instrumental in ancient Chinese history by providing companionship, producing children for the emperor, and performing various duties at court which helped maintain power for him. Without them numerous dynasties may not have been able to endure as long or remain so successful throughout history.

– Examining the Social Status of Chinese Concubines Through History

Throughout the ages, the standing of Chinese concubines has been a subject of much scrutiny. While their role has shifted across different eras and regions, one thing is certain: they have been an integral part of Chinese culture for centuries. In this article, we will explore the evolution of Chinese concubines and how their social status has changed over time.

In antiquity, concubines were seen as secondary wives to the primary wife and held a lower rank in society than her husband. They were often treated as servants with limited rights compared to other women. The primary wife was usually chosen based on her family’s wealth or connections, while the concubine was typically chosen for her beauty or sexual prowess.

During the Tang Dynasty (618-907), concubines had more freedom and could even be granted property from their husbands if they had no children. This improved their social standing but did not make them equal to other females in society. Concubines still did not enjoy the same privileges as free women and were frequently used as political tools by powerful families.

In modern times, concubinage is outlawed in China yet still persists in some rural areas where traditional values are strong. These relationships are rarely discussed openly but can be perceived as a way to maintain conventional gender roles in society. Even though concubinage is no longer accepted by mainstream society, it still serves an essential purpose in some communities by providing stability to families with few resources or options for marriage.

The history of Chinese concubines reveals that their social status has been transformed over time, from being treated as servants with little rights to having more autonomy and independence within certain societies. Despite this progress, there is still much work to be done before all women are treated equally regardless of their marital status or economic background.

– Investigating the Physical Attributes of Chinese Concubines Throughout History

Throughout the centuries, Chinese concubines have been renowned for their beauty and grace. But what were the physical attributes of these women in different eras? From the Zhou Dynasty (1046–256 BCE) to the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644 CE), various standards of attractiveness emerged which had to be met by these ladies in order to be considered desirable.

During the Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE), a slender figure with a small waist and large hips was desired, as well as fair skin, a high forehead, dark eyes, red lips, and long hair. The Tang Dynasty (618–907 CE) focused more on facial features such as round faces with delicate noses and thin eyebrows. In addition, smooth hair that was either kept long or tied up in a bun was also seen as attractive.

The Song Dynasty (960–1279 CE) saw an increased emphasis on beauty rituals such as foot binding which made women’s feet appear smaller. Along with this practice, heavy makeup consisting of white powder and red rouge was also used to enhance their looks. During the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644 CE), there was an increased focus on maintaining youthful appearances through dieting and exercise regimes like tai chi or qigong. Concubines were also expected to wear tight-fitting clothing which accentuated their curves in order to maintain their figures, while herbal remedies like ginseng or pearl powder were used to keep their skin looking soft and glowing.

Overall, Chinese concubines throughout history had different physical attributes depending on which dynasty they lived in but all shared certain common traits such as fair skin, delicate features, and graceful demeanors.

– Exploring the Representation of Chinese Concubines in Art and Literature Through History

Throughout time, Chinese concubines have been portrayed in a variety of ways through art and literature. From the Han dynasty to the present day, these representations reflect the ever-shifting attitudes towards women and their roles in society. In ancient China, concubines were seen as symbols of wealth and power, with many rulers possessing hundreds of them. Artwork showed them as beautiful women adorned in lavish clothing and jewelry while literature portrayed them as influential figures capable of swaying court decisions and politics.

In the Tang dynasty, concubines were still viewed as signs of affluence but their role was more focused on providing pleasure to their masters. Paintings depicted them enjoying leisure activities such as playing music or dancing while literature presented them as seductive characters who could manipulate men with their beauty and charm.

The Ming dynasty saw a change in how concubines were represented; instead of being seen as symbols of luxury they became objects of pity or sympathy. Paintings began to show them enduring the heavy burden of servitude while literature painted them as victims oppressed by powerful men. This shift in attitude towards concubines mirrored the growing awareness among Chinese people about the unequal treatment that women faced during this period.

Today, Chinese concubines are still featured in art and literature but not nearly to the same extent as before. Many modern works explore issues such as gender inequality or highlight the struggles faced by women throughout history. These depictions serve to remind us that despite its long history, much progress is still needed when it comes to gender equality in China today.


Throughout the ages, Chinese concubines have been regarded as a precious acquisition, with an expectation of beauty. While some may have had alluring appearances, it is inconceivable to determine if every single one was aesthetically pleasing.


Some questions with answers

1. What is a concubine?
A concubine is a woman who lives with a man, but does not have the same social status as his wife.

2. When did concubines become popular in Chinese history?

Concubines became popular in Chinese history during the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD).

3. Why were concubines popular?
Concubines were popular because they provided companionship and pleasure for their male partners, as well as helping to increase their social status.

4. Were Chinese concubines pretty?

Yes, Chinese concubines were often chosen for their beauty and elegance. They would wear elaborate clothing and hairstyles to enhance their beauty.

5. What happened to the concubines when the husband died?
When the husband died, the concubine would usually be sent away or given away to another family member.

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