Hand Painted
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 This artwork is
100% hand-painted.

Typical Gallery Price: $180.00



Zhao Jun
The Distinguished Beauty of China Wall Scroll

Zhao Jun - The Distinguished Beauty of China Wall Scroll

Approximate Measurements

Artwork Panel: 42.5cm x 91.4cm  ≈  16¾" x 36"

Silk/Brocade: 51.7cm x 146.1cm  ≈  20¼" x 57½"

Width at Wooden Knobs: 60.7cm  ≈  23¾"

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Zhao Jun

The Distinguished Beauty of Ancient China

The title suggests that this captures the moment that Zhao Jun left the kingdom forever to become queen of the Monguls.

Zhao Jun - The Distinguished Beauty of China Wall Scroll close up view

Close up view of the artwork mounted to this silk brocade wall scroll

About the Four Beauties of China:

In Chinese culture, there are four famous beautiful woman of China.

They are thought to be the most beautiful and significant woman of China's ancient history.

Although the stories about these woman are based on fact, they are also steeped in legend.

These woman have remained famous through history because of the drastic effects on the emperors, kings, and kingdoms with whom they were bound.

Some of the beauties brought kingdoms and dynasties to their knees.

Most of the beauties had lives that ended in tragedy or mystery.

The legend and history of these woman has inspired Chinese artists for generations to create paintings that depict these four famous beauties of ancient China.

More about the beauty depicted on this scroll:

The woman in this painting is known as "Wang Zhao-Jun"

To break down the meaning:
Wang = Her maiden family name
Zhao-Jun = Distinguished (her given name)

Her Story:

History tells us that around 48 B.C. the Emperor of the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. - 220 A.D.) sent out servants to find the most beautiful woman in all of China. These women in turn were selected to be the Emperor's concubines/wives.

The Emperor did not want to go through the pageantry of personally looking over each woman before making his selection of which one would accompany him for evening, so he had an artist paint a picture of each woman. This way, he could choose in private, and have the one of his choosing summoned to his chamber.

Legend has it that because Zhao-Jun was an honest woman, she did not bribe the painter as the other concubines did. So, being snubbed by the artist, her portrait was not as attractive as the portraits of the other women. She was never summoned to the Emperor's chamber.

Years later in 33 B.C., the Han Emperor needed to make a peace-offering to the Hun King (from what is now called Mongolia). The Hun King demanded to marry a princess of the Han-Chinese Empire if peace was to prevail.

The call went out throughout the palace for a woman willing to live in the "barbarian lands" of Mongolia. Only Zhao-Jun volunteered. She was still known to the emperor only by the less-than flattering painting of her. The Emperor having never seen her in person agreed to the exchange.

In much ceremony and fanfare, Zhao-Jun was given to the Hun King. When the Han Emperor saw her for the first time at the ceremony, he realized that he was giving away the most beautiful woman of his entire court. He was angry, but he could not go back on his word and risk war with the Huns.

Upon the departure of the Hun King and his new wife Zhao-Jun, the Emperor summoned his painter and had him executed (Looks CAN kill, even in art).

Zhao-Jun taught the Hun people how to weave and farm. Previously they had been a clan of warriors and hunters and therefore knew very little of agricultural techniques at the time.

During her life, she gave birth to two girls and a boy, and the king was well-pleased.

Zhao-Jun became a very beloved in the Hun Kingdom. She became a symbol of peace, and because of her, battles ceased between the Huns and Han-Chinese for more than 60 years.

No one is certain what happened to her after the king's death. Some believe that she committed suicide to avoid following the levirate tradition of maintaining the royal bloodline by marrying her own son. Others believe that she married a different heir to the throne born by another woman.

There is still a tomb and memorial in Inner-Mongolia that honors her life and the peace that she brought to the region.

About the Artist

This was painted and is signed by 劉倩 (Liu Qian) of Guilin China.
Like many artists in China, she likes to paint images of the Ancient Four Beauties of China.

This painting is titled "Zhao Jun Departs the Border [of the Kingdom]". Along with that title, the rest of the characters include the year painted (Winter 2006) and the artist's signature.

This is painted on xuan paper (rice paper), I later took it back to our workshop in Beijing and had it mounted by hand to a silk wall scroll.

This item was listed or modified
Feb 6th, 2014

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Gary's random little things about China:

Is "Oriental" politically correct?

Everyone is going to hate me for this, but here is the truth:

Some people who currently prefer to call themselves "Asian-Americans" woke up one morning and decided that "Oriental" is now a word to be used only for Oriental rugs, Oriental art and lamps, or any other inanimate object from Eastern Asia.

When I was teaching English in China, many of my students would refer to themselves as "Oriental", and I would correct them and say, It's better to say that you are Asian or Chinese rather than Oriental, but I was at a loss as to explain why.
My Chinese students were very smart, and came back at me with the fact that being from Asia was too broad a term, and asked if Persians and Saudi Arabians should also refer to themselves as "Asian".

I then had to make excuses for my geographically-challenged fellow Americans* who had long ago replaced the correct term of "Oriental" (meaning the bio-geographic region including southern Asia and the Malay Archipelago as far as the Philippines, Borneo and Java), and replaced it with "Asian" which in truth encompasses half the world's population - many of whom do not consider themselves to be of the same race as those from the Orient.
(For those Americans reading this and who've slept through their high school geography class: It's true, the whole Middle East, and half of Russia are located in the Asian continent)

But I admit I am not helping the problem. You see, almost half the people that find our website did so while searching for "Asian art" and I have done a lot to promote our business as "Purveyors of Asian art". So you can blame me too.
To truly be an Asian art gallery, we would have to offer artwork from beyond the Orient, from places like India, Persia (Iran), most Arab nations, and Russia.


There are a lot of things that present problems in the English language.
Usually these problems are thanks to mistakes of the past.
That's why we have to say, "He's an Indian from India" versus "He's a Native-American Indian" (Thanks to Mr. Columbus).

Things to learn:
Do not refer to a Persian (Iranian) as Arab.
If you refer to an Arab-American as being Asian, they will look at you funny and possibly be offended.
If you refer to a person from India as Asian, you will mildly amuse them.
If you refer to a Russian as being Asian, they will pour borsch on you (my ex-wife is Russian, so I know this to be true from experience).
Using "Asian" to refer to a person from Singapore is okay, but they will later, as if by accident, mention that they are in fact from the most civilized country in Asia.

*We citizens of the USA call ourselves "Americans" which seems a bit arrogant to our neighbors who reside on the continents of North and South America. Keep in mind, Canadians and Mexicans are also from North America, but refer to themselves in more correct geographic terms.

Typical Gallery Price: $180.00