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Scent of a woman and her time

By Zhao Xu | China Daily | Updated: 2018-04-21 11:30
A painting from 17th-century China depicting a lady with a duck-shaped incense burner and the accompanying incense cage under her long skirt.[Photo/Shanghai Museum]

The ancient Silk Road had a profound influence on Tang Dynasty China, opening it up to the world

Imagine an aristocratic lady during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) more than a millennium ago. Exuberantly beautiful, a lush pile of hair spirals from the crown of her head like a pond snail. Dressed in a low-cut, bust-revealing gown with silken luster that accentuates her opulent beauty, she is glamorous and sensuous, and no doubt fully aware of her own allure.

She seeks to further enhance that charm, partly by immersing herself in an aromatic scent that, despite its origin in faraway lands, has become le parfum de l'epoque. Potent and hypnotizing, the aroma not only adds an edge of seduction to the indolence of this well-pampered lady, but also offers a metaphor for an era in Chinese history known for its prowess in nation-building and diplomacy.

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