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

MumBab-01

(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.

China-Mary-01

Original Chinese Language Article

http://tc.chinawin.net/tech/history/article-a5e.html

《聖母瑪麗亞》與中國古代母子畫的缺失

“緊託嬰兒,慈祥的眼神細心凝視着成長中的寶寶,嬰兒則乖巧的吸吮着乳汁,不時地眼神向遠處張望”,畫面營造出一片安詳和睦的氣氛。一幅《聖母瑪麗亞》,不僅表現出時人對聖母的敬仰之情,也可看出時人對母子情的讚譽。從這幅名畫贗品之多、價格之昂,足見其價值所在!

中國,尤其是在中國古代,母子畫或者母嬰畫卻相對較少。相比之下,中國古代山水、花鳥、人物畫則傑作衆多,可謂登峰造極!此種情況,原因諸多,也可歸結於中國傳統文化所致,體現出中國古代婦女地位的低下,這裏不想多做探討。

地位不受重視,雖肩負撫育嬰兒、傳宗接代重任,卻遭受唾棄,甚至社會的譴責,實屬不該!到現今社會,人文社會科學領域,對婦女思想、文化、教育、生活等方面的研究甚多,婦女研究已成爲一門“顯學”,婦女地位也大加讚賞不斷提高,婦女問題亦受到了越來越多人的關注,這雖然是一個漸進過程,但已從一個“極端”走向另一個“極端”,而對男人研究少之又少,是悲否?答曰:這就是中國,這就是中國文化!下面是一幅中國人畫的“聖母瑪麗亞”,轉貼以作對比。

 

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