Women, Gender and Art in Asia, c. 1500-1900: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Women, Gender and Art in Asia, c. 1500-1900

1st Edition

Edited by Melia Belli Bose


372 pages | 127 B/W Illus.

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Women, Gender and Art in Asia, c. 1500–1900 brings women's engagements with art into a pan-Asian dialogue with essays that examine women as artists, commissioners, collectors, and subjects from India, Southeast Asia, Tibet, China, Korea, and Japan, from the sixteenth to the early twentieth century. The artistic media includes painting, sculpture, architecture, textiles, and photography. The book is broadly concerned with four salient questions: How unusual was it for women to engage directly with art? What factors precluded more women from doing so? In what ways did women's artwork or commissions differ from those of men? And, what were the range of meanings for woman as subject matter?

The chapters deal with historic individuals about whom there is considerable biographical information. Beyond locating these uncommon women within their socio-cultural milieux, contributors consider the multiple strands that twined to comprise their complex identities, and how these impacted their works of art. In many cases, the woman's status-as wife, mother, widow, ruler, or concubine (and multiple combinations thereof), as well as her religion and lineage-determined the media, style, and content of her art. Women, Gender and Art in Asia, c. 1500–1900 adds to our understanding of works of art, their meanings, and functions.


"…A rich volume, packed with original analyses, often of artists or artworks that have not received much (or any) attention to date. It is also the first edited volume to look at the question of gender in Asian art as a whole. This volume will make an important contribution to the fields of gender studies as well as Asian art." Deborah Hutton, The College of New Jersey, USA

Table of Contents


List of Illustrations

Notes on Contributors


Introduction: Queens, Courtesans, and Collectors: Women’s Engagement with Art in Asia

Melia Belli Bose


Matrons, Art, and Power

1 Mapping Holkar Identity and the Good Name of Ahilyabai

Cathleen Cummings

2 Royal Matronage and a Visual Vocabulary of Indian Queenship: Ahilyabai Holkar’s Memorial Commissions

Melia Belli Bose

3 Heavenly Mistress and Bodhisattva: Visualizing the Divine Identities of Two Empresses in Ming China (1368–1644)

Luk Yu-Ping

4 A Very “Modern” Matron: Phra Rachaya Dara Rasami as Promoter and Preserver of Lan Na Culture in Early Twentieth-century Siam

Leslie Woodhouse


Women’s Work and Working Women

5 Imagining Du Liniang in The Peony Pavilion: Female Painters, Self-portraiture, and Paintings of Beautiful Women in Late Ming China

Lara C.W. Blanchard

6 Creating Art in Japan’s Imperial Buddhist Convents: Devotional Practice and Cultural Pastime

Patricia Fister

7 Women’s Work: Phulkari, Flora Annie Steel, and Collecting Textiles in British India

Cristin McKnight Sethi


Depicting the Exemplary Woman

8. Defining a Woman: The Painting of Sin Saimdang

Sunglim Kim

9 Properly Female: Illustrated Books of Morals for Women in Edo Japan

Elizabeth Lillehoj

10 Absence and Presence: Representations of Human and Non-human Females in Tibetan Thangkas

Serinity Young


Gender in Liminal Spaces

11 Reconsidering Gender Realms: The Garden as Site and Setting in Late Imperial Shanghai

Kristen Chiem

12 Women Who Crossed the Cordon

Ikumi Kaminishi

13 A Multi-gendered Scandal: The Survival of the Prostitute Meme, Asazuma Boat

Miriam Wittles


About the Editor

Melia Belli Bose is Assistant Professor of Asian Art History at the University of Texas at Arlington, USA.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / History / General
ART / Asian
HISTORY / Asia / General
HISTORY / Asia / China
HISTORY / Asia / India & South Asia
HISTORY / Asia / Japan
HISTORY / Asia / Korea
HISTORY / Asia / Southeast Asia
HISTORY / Asia / Central Asia
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Women's Studies
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Gender Studies