‘Virgin Mary’ and the Ancient Chinese Art of the Missing Mother and Baby


(Translated by Adrian Chan-Wyles PhD)

‘The young baby is held firmly, and nurturing, caring eyes gaze over the child. The well-behaved baby occasionally suckles milk, and looks cutely into the distance.’

This painting creates a harmonious and peaceful atmosphere. Not only does this painting of the Virgin Mary depict here loving nature, but it also demonstrates the love between a mother and child. This is obvious from the praise that this painting continuously receives. Indeed, this picture is so valued that even copies and fakes exchange hands for remarkable amounts.

In China, particularly ancient China, there are very few depictions of mothers and their children. By way of contrast, there thousands upon thousands of ancient Chinese landscapes, flowers and birds, as well as masterful portraits – all of which has been heralded as the highest form of art! There are many reasons for this, but the primary reason is probably due to the low status of women and in ancient China – a valid subject that cannot be discussed here.

Although Chinese women tend and care for babies, their status is not taken seriously. Chinese women have been blamed historically for not producing sons, and have suffered social condemnation and have been cast aside! In modern Chinese society things are different, particularly now that the academic fields of the Humanities, and of Social Science, the subject of Women Studies is now taken seriously and has developed a substantial body of cultural and educational knowledge. This is an ongoing project that is considered a subject of ‘significant learning’. As a subject, it Is has much improved the cultural appreciation and status of women in China. Women’s issues have received more and more attention, although this has been a gradual process. However, this seems to a move from one ‘extreme’ to another, as there are very few similar studies associated with men. Is this sad? Answer: this is China, and this is Chinese culture! Below is included a picture of a Chinese painting of the ‘Virgin Mary’, which can e compared with the European painting above.


Original Chinese Language Article







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