7th C China
China’s only female Emperor, Wu Zetian, was an innovator who intently worked her way up to the throne, a feminist and activist who opposed the stifling
conservatism and brutal gender stereotypes women were faced with.
Wu introduced Buddhism to China as the national religion, bringing with it ideas of equality and shattering the sexism of the ancient Taoist meanings attached to the Yin & Yang.
Wu changed her name, previously a privilege only a man had the right to do, to a symbol of the sun (which portrays the masculine Yang) next to the moon (the feminine Yin).
In arguably Empress Wu’s grandest expression of women she is the only person to place a female Buddhist sculpture in front of
traditionally masculine Buddha’s. An imposing, elegant form that exudes calm and tranquillity, denoting a self confidence in her agency and a timeless belief in the power and heroism of women.