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Full Access Oneself as a Female Deity: Representations of Empress Dowager Cixi as Guanyin

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Oneself as a Female Deity: Representations of Empress Dowager Cixi as Guanyin

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This paper discusses the practice of Empress Dowager Cixi’s embodiment of Guanyin, the most influential female deity in China. Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908), the ruling monarch of Qing China, embodied this deity via different media such as painting, fashion, and photographs. This study demonstrates both the religious and historical consequences of Cixi’s particular vision of herself as Guanyin. It explains how Cixi combined theatricality with religiosity in different media and how she fashioned herself in both roles simultaneously as Guanyin and ruling empress Cixi.


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