Yongzhen Cheng


The concept of female beauty in the Pre-Qin period underwent a great historical change from the appreciation of "the ugly" to that of "the beautiful." The image of beautiful females in the prehistoric age was characteristically "ugly and muscular," highlighting the reproductive function and death function of the Great Mother, and could be argued to be the embodiment of the victory of "the mother principle." The beautiful and the ugly were blended in the image of the female beauty in the Xia-Shang period, which was mainly because the establishment of patriarchy had turned the female from aesthetic subject into aesthetic object and resulted in the shift from "mother aesthetic" to "maiden aesthetic" and the gradual moralization of the aesthetic concept of the female. This could be argued as the victory of "maiden principle." The culture of Zhou Dynasty was based on morality and ritual and music orthodoxy, and the maturity of patriarchal culture required the concept of the female beauty to be equally moral and physical. Virtues were prioritized over physicality and demeanor. The historical change of the concept of female beauty in the Pre-Qin period mapped the characteristics and the trajectory of social changes at that time, and reflected the transformation of cultural trends.

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