17 of Fan Bingbing’s most stunning costumes in The Empress of China
The Empress Of China drama series has become famous in western media because of Chinese censorship over the cleavage shots. Nevertheless, beautiful actress Fan Bingbing alone has 260 costumes to play the legendary Wu Meiniang, who rose from concubine to an Empress of the Tang dynasty and eventually China’s only female Emperor in history. The show has a huge budget, and a lot of it is apparently spent on the fabulous costumes. We bring you a stunning collection of these exquisite gowns worn by the incomparable Fan Bingbing.
What makes Wu Meiniang’s life legendary is that the main events in her life are true history. She was at first Emperor Taizong‘s concubine. After Taizong died, she was banished to be a nun, but then was brought back to the palace by Taizong’s son, Emperor Gaozong, who had fallen for her while he was a prince. She would eventually become Gaozong’s queen. After Gaozong’s death, she went through a power struggle and declared herself Emperor Wu of a new dynasty. Near the end of her life, she was deposed by one of her own sons, who resurrected the Tang dynasty.
She was only 14 years old when she entered the palace and met Emperor Taizong. Although she was a concubine, she was born and raised in an affluent family, and she was well educated.
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The fabulous gowns and robes worn in the drama are designed to give the audience the visual sensation of experiencing what the royals might have worn when ancient China was at its peak of wealth and power in a golden age of cosmopolitan culture. The Tang dynasty was one of the greatest dynasties in history, with its capital being the ancient world’s most populous city. The many beautiful costumes look like they are made of silk because silk fabric was first produced in ancient China and aristocrats were the only ones who could wear clothes made of silk.
Here is Lady Wu being presented by Emperor Gaozong as his official concubine. The Chinese emperor assigned titles and ranks to his many concubines, and these ladies in the inner palace often fought for an emperor’s favor and especially for the opportunity to bear his son.
When I see these images of Empress Wu, I’m reminded of Queen Elizabeth I of England and Catherine The Great of Russia. In Chinese history books, Empress Wu was always portrayed with a negative image. But nowadays, with women rising in many fields including politics, business, science, and more, I have often wondered if ancient historians deliberately exaggerated the negative aspects of her rule. She was, after all, an educated woman who had smarts and guts, and who emerged as a leader in a traditionally male-dominated society. In other words, she couldn’t help but rise up because she was smarter than the men around her. After she died, she was entombed with her husband, Emperor Gaozong, and her tombstone was deliberately left blank. Never would there be another female emperor in China again. And never would Chinese women enjoy the same level of rights, education, and influence, until modern China was established in the early 20th century.
Did you enjoy these costumes? What do you think about Empress Wu?
(photo: credit as tagged)