New Songs from the Jade Terrace

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New Songs from the Jade Terrace (simplified Chinese: 玉台新咏; traditional Chinese: 玉臺新詠; pinyin: Yùtái Xīnyǒng) is a collection of Chinese poetry dating to the time of the Six dynasties. Its poems have frequently been translated and have otherwise been of great artistic influence around the world. Although there is uncertainty about the authorship of the individual poems, the anthology was compiled by Xu Ling (Chinese: 徐陵; pinyin: Xú Líng), a Southern Dynasties writer who lived from 507 to 583.[1] The term "Jade Terrace" is a reference to the luxurious palace apartments in to which upper-class women were often relegated; although the famous translator of Classical Chinese poetry and commentator thereupon, Burton Watson adds that this expression may also, "mean a mirror stand of jade such as women use in their toilet; and since the Chinese are fond of elegant euphemisms for parts of the body, it may even have some more esoteric connotation."[2] New Songs from a Jade Terrace is an important collection of Chinese poetry, in part because of the individual poems which it contains, but also because the overall theme of the collection remarkably involves the discussion of sex and gender roles and ideals of love and beauty.

The collection[edit]

New Songs from a Jade Terrace is divided into ten sections, and 769 headings of verses[3] "devoted almost entirely to poems about love,[4]" that is, the primary emphasis is upon male-female love in the context of the women's apartments,[5] and contains material ranging from anonymous Han Dynasty ballads through poems contemporary to the time of composition. The various poems are mostly by men, though some by women. The collection contains over 600 pieces focused on the ideals of feminine beauty, and some of the poems are matter-of-factly homoerotic, describing the beloved young man involved in much the same terms as the female beloved is in other pieces. In other cases, a "hint of fetishism" is shown in poetic verses describing the objects associated with the men or women described in the poems; that is, their bedrooms and feast halls, the musical instruments, lamps or mirror-stands which they handle, or the fine stationary upon which they write their love notes.[6]


  1. ^ zh.wikipedia articles "玉臺新詠" and "徐陵"
  2. ^ Watson, 91
  3. ^ zh.wikipedia "玉臺新詠"
  4. ^ Watson, 91
  5. ^ zh.wikipedia "玉臺新詠"
  6. ^ Watson, 91-92

See also[edit]


  • Watson, Burton (1971). CHINESE LYRICISM: Shih Poetry from the Second to the Twelfth Century. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-03464-4

External links[edit]