The TV drama The Empress of China is hot among audiences recently. Actress Fan Bingbing, who plays the role of Empress Wu Zetian, is a fabulous beauty. What did Wu Zetian, China's only female monarch, look like in real life? Let's explore the possibilities.
A painting by Zhang Xuan is said to have portrayed Wu Zetian. [Photo/Artron.net]
The famous Chinese scholar Guo Moruo researched this, and he thinks that a plump empress portrayed in a painting by Tang Dynasty painter Zhang Xuan is Wu Zetian. Zhang left many famous paintings, such as Paintings of Lady of Guoguo on a Spring Outing of the Tang Dynasty, Court Ladies Preparing Newly-Woven Silk and Lady of Wei.
It is guessed that Zhang Xuan was a court painter and had met Wu Zetian before, so the portrait by him is quite reliable.
An image of Wu Zetian from the Images of Ancient People in History. [Photo/Artron.net]
Another frequently seen image of Wu Zetian is the block-painted edition of Images of Ancient People in History, created in 1498, during the reign of Emperor Hongzhi in the Ming Dynasty. However, as the painting was recreated by Ming people, it is not very reliable and possibly a portrait born out of imagination.
The original stone statue of Wu Zetian in Sichuan province. [Photo/Artron.net]
There are also many stone statues of Empress Wu Zetian, and the most ancient one is now at her birthplace, Guangyuan in Sichuan province. The statue is said to be very close to the real appearance of Wu Zetian.