Broken images : the traditions of “blazoning” women in the Yu t’ai Hsin Yung and Hohe Minne

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


This essay compares two traditions of highly stylized love lyric: the German late medieval Des Minnesangs Fruehling. which is in the tradition of the troubadours and related to Renaissance Petrarchism, and Chinese Palace Style Poetry of the Liang Dynasty. In both cases “woman" is taken as the object of the poem and depersonalized into an abstract entity, thus being deprived of her concrete individuality To this end the technique of “blazoning" is employed, whereby the various parts of the woman's body are described in erotic or lurid detail: this is really a rhetorical taking control of the woman's body by the male speaker (poet). But while the Gorman Minnesang sublimates the feminine qualities into a life-enhancing ideal spiritual essence to be praised (revered) by the male speaker / poet, the Chinese Palace Style Poetry reduces the “woman" to a merely art-enhancing artificial object, a purely aesthetic and erotic object of desire for the decadent pleasure of the male aristocrats at court.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-118
Number of pages36
JournalTamkang Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • bazoning
  • love lyric
  • sublimation
  • eroticism
  • Petrarchism
  • objectification
  • troubadours
  • artificial
  • feminine image


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