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Donor portrait of Lady Wang from Taiyuan in worship


(Please click for enlarged image)


South wall of Mogao Cave 130
High Tang dynasty
Copy by Duan Wenjie
 

This donor's portrait is labelled as "Lady Wang, wife of a commander, from Taiyuan". Lady Wang was the wife of Le Tinggui, Commander of Jinchang prefecture (in Shanxi) around the 12th year of the Tianbao reign (753). Appearing from right to left in the painting are Lady Wang, her two daughters and nine female attendants. The gradually diminishing sizes of the figures reflect the strict top-down hierarchy governing their relationship.

Lady Wang is wearing a pomegranate-red skirt. A shawl of very thin fabric drapes over her shoulders. Her hair is rolled up into a tall updo adorned with floral-shaped hair ornaments, hairpins and small combs. The two ladies behind her are her daughters (named Eleventh Damsel and Thirteenth Damsel). The one closer to her wears a green skirt; her hair also rolled into a topknot. The one farther away wears a yellow skirt, and a phoenix headpiece. Both ladies are wearing multi-layers of silken shawls. The nine maids standing in attendance behind the ladies are in men's dress and their hairstyles vary with their age. They are holding various objects including flower bouquets, an offering bottle, a fan and a box holding objects for donation. The dresses of Lady Wang and her daughters are vibrantly coloured and lavishly decorated with floral roundels, thus looking both luxuriant and resplendent. The original mural has been badly damaged.

All the ladies in the portrait have short eyebrows reshaped by drawing, and lips tinted with vermillion rouge. The daughters of Lady Wang have red dots or floral shaped decorations on their eyelids and cheeks. The dots or other shapes painted onto the cheeks, forehead or temples using rouge or other colour pigments are called huaye (literally, ‘flower dimple'). The colourful applique ornaments of gold, silver and jade on the eyelids or forehead are called huadian (literally, ‘flower ornament').

This painting is a copy by Duan Wenjie restoring the images and colour scheme to their original state based on results of extensive research on Tang costumes.