The Tang Dynasty’s reign extended from 618-907 with great accomplishments in trade over the Silk Road, the advancement of the Confucian education system as well as Buddhism, and the writing of beautiful poetry.
Tang Paradise, a theme park in Xi’an, the capital of Shanxi province, also chose to honor the dynasty’s beauty standards in a special promotion that ran from June 15th to June 19th. Heavier women were regarded as extremely attractive to the Tang because they represented a family’s wealth, prosperity, and ability to feed and provide for her.
A sign accompanied with a scale, proclaimed “Free entry for ladies of the Tang Dynasty!” The first 618 (what a meaningful number) female guests weighing over 136 pounds were guaranteed free entry into the park.
The judge? A 61.8 kilogram block on on end of a scale. Ladies thicc enough to tip said scale were promptly welcomed inside for the annual Dragon Boat Festival. Still, at 90 yuan a ticket (roughly $13.84), the stakes were never that grand beyond getting to brag about your hot Tang Dynasty-approved bod. 136 pounds doesn’t sound like much, but keep in mind that the average Chinese woman is only 5 foot 1, at an average weight of around 126 pounds, with different pervasive ideas regarding what qualifies as a plump-er woman.
“People nowadays see healthy and slim as the beauty standard,” said a spokesperson for Tang Paradise. “We want to show that the voluptuous bodies of the Tang ladies are also beautiful.”
She continued to heap praise on larger women, proclaiming: “You are as pretty as Yang Guifei.”
Yang Guifei was considered one of the Four Great Beauties of ancient China. A consort and favorite of Emperor Xuanzong, her (perceived) flirtations with his enemy An Lushan and multiple nepotism-based requests to advance her family are recognized as major inciting incidents in what would lead to the decline and eventual collapse of the Tang. The emperor ordered her to be executed and strangled in order to maintain the peace. She was said to have “a face that put all flowers to shame.”