A lot has been said about the four ancient beauties of China, and there’s even a myth that a place in Singapore (Simei) is named after them (it’s not, but that’s beyond the scope of this article). However, not many people are familiar with the four male beauties of China. The effeminate ideal of male beauty is not new to China, and it is consistent with the traditional social hierarchy of scholars who are well-versed in the arts, graceful and cultured. Make-up, too, weren’t foreign to Chinese men of the ancient past.
We’ve seen the four ancient beauties through the male gaze for thousands of years, so perhaps it’s time that we have a bit of a gender balance in this historical beauty pageant. I’m going to share more in the coming articles about the idea of male beauty in ancient Chinese societies, and also talk a bit about how the story of Mulan might be influenced by these tales.
It’s also interesting that while 3 out of 4 ancient female beauties were non-existent (or unable to prove their true existence), all 4 male beauties were documented in actual historical records.
Of course, I took quite a fair bit of artistic liberty as always in their reimagination. But I promise that you will learn a thing or two about traditional Chinese artforms and culture as always in this seemingly superficial ancient F4 series.
And you guessed it–I love crossover projects, so this is also a tribute to the 80s kids who grew up watching the Taiwanese version of F4. I’ll leave you to guess who is who for now.
Will put links to the individual articles here as a summary page when they’re all completely uploaded.
P.S. We just completed shoots today (yes, a few hours ago) for the 4 ancient beauties. I have been rather silent the past few months because this year, as I promised myself, will be a year of consolidation and self-improvement. So I have cut down on photoshoots in exchange for quality time with peers of similar interest, and to prepare for something big next year (fingers crossed that it will happen). You should hear from me soon with some sneak peek on the project next year. *EXCITED*
The 4 ancient male beauties are: