The women of late imperial China

Social life in imperial China was gendered and divided, as prescribed by patriarchal Confucian principles. In the late imperial period, during the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911), the female chastity cult and foot-binding were on the rise, but women still found a way to form their own communities. Such constricted lives are reflected in the paintings of women, made by men, in “Captive Beauties: Depictions of Women in Late Imperial China.” “Beauty” was a code word for women’s marriageability. Women are depicted dressed in silk, serving men as musicians or courtesans. But several artists in this show peek into the inner lives of women, where another story was brewing. (10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tue., Wed. & Sat.; 10-9 p.m. Thu.-Fri.; 11-5 Sun. Ends July 19. Minneapolis Institute of Art, 2400 3rd Av. S., Mpls. Free. 612-870-3000 or

Alicia Eler