China Seminar | 11 May 2006

Signs of Difference: Gender and Ethnic Costume at the Founding of the Tang

Kate Lingley Kate Lingley

In the art of the Tang dynasty, foreigners are often depicted with distinctive facial features, including large noses, full beards, and deep-set eyes. Yet a hundred years earlier, the chief sign of a foreigner in Chinese art was foreign dress, not foreign physiognomy. How did this change in visual language take place? Kate Lingley explores and explains this move from sartorial to physiognomic differentiation of ethnicity. This change in visual culture has important social and political implications for conquest and division in Chinese history.

Kate Lingley is Assistant Professor of Chinese Art History at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. She holds a B.A. in Archaeology (1994) from Harvard University and an M.A. (1998) and Ph.D. (2004) in Art History from the University of Chicago. Her dissertation, “Widows, Monks, Magistrates, and Concubines: Social Dimensions of Sixth-Century Buddhist Art Patronage,” examined the images of sixth-century donors as a way of understanding the social significance of Buddhist art patronage in the Northern Dynasties. Her current research project is concerned with the gendering of ethnic imagery in the art of late sixth- and early seventh-century China.