AP Art History
Cultural Art Essay
December 10th, 2014
Gender Interpretation Within
the Egyptian and Chinese Cultures
Gender has always played a large role in how valuable a human being is perceived to be. It is a sad reality, but nonetheless should be studied. In many cultures, there are specific ways to go about depicting female members of society, and within those cultures are many deep rooted reasons. Female members are often seen as weak, or very powerful, and not very often depicted as anything in between. In Ancient China, women were seen as property, objects to own. In Ancient Egypt, women were seen as capable and honorable. It is a wonder how women can be so very differently viewed across the world, even still today, and that is why this needs further investigated. Ancient China and Ancient Egypt’s cultures are very different in the sense of how they view the everyday female, but in the ways they depict these females is very much alike. Both cultures use symbolism with their color choices, show women tending to others’ needs, lighten their skin in artworks, and use a technique of proportion that is not necessarily realistic, but is more so for stylistic purposes.
Egyptian women were very much a part of politics as well as everyday life. They were trusted to make their own decisions, and decisions for the household. They could “own land, borrow money, sign contracts, initiate divorce, [and] appear in court as a witness” (Women in Ancient Egypt). They participated in spinning, weaving and sewing for clothings and material objects for the household. Children were held to an equal standard, and were cherished regardless of their gender. Love and emotional support was a key element in Egyptian families. ...
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... differently than men (be it better, or worse than).
Gender roles and perspectives have always been key in determining a culture’s view on a person’s worth. In Ancient Chinese and Ancient Egyptian cultures, there were very distinct ways of how to ‘correctly’ depict a woman in artwork. Their gender values are exact opposites-- In China, women were seen as something to own, and someone solely to tend to men and their families. In Egypt, women were expected to be nearly equal to the male. They were capable of managing ‘finances’ and making household decisions, and usually the men were urged to do so. Regardless, both cultures have many similarities in how they demonstrate these views within artwork: with their underlying symbolism within color choice, showing women tending to others’ needs, lightening their skin in artworks, and with their techniques of proportion.
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