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Bare-breast statue divided the public opinion

The controvertial statue of a bare-breasted Pan Jinlian in a scene from the classical Chinese novel Water Margin on show in a tourist spot in Shandong province. Photo:

A bare-breasted figure of the infamous fictional character Pan Jinlian in a tourist spot in Shandong has generated quite a debate on Weibo last week. In the Weibo opinion poll, over two thirds of the people taking part are against publicly demonstrating such a statue, considering it inappropriate. This news, coming soon after previous reports of other statues being “sexually exposed” due to people’s much too frequent and improper touches, brought people’s attention back to the sensitive topic of sex in China.

Oct 20, pictures of this statue from Xinjiang Autonomous Region showing an "exposed" breast due to tourists' touch were seen on many Chinese websites. Photo: 

The controversial statue is from a set of statues recreating a scene from the classical Chinese novel Water Margin (also known as Outlaws of the Marsh) in the Tai’erzhuang historical town in Shangdong. The scene was one of the most well-known scenes from the widely popular classic where Wusong, arguably one of the most beloved outlaws in the novel, a martial arts master, killed her adulterous sister-in-law Pan Jinlian who was responsible for the death of his brother. The figure of Pan Jilian, long condemned as an example of sinful women who committed the utmost crime of being unfaithful to her husband and contributing to his murder, was grabbed by the lapel, revealing her bare chest, by Wu Song with a knife held high in his other hand ready to strike down.

Sex has long been a taboo in the Chinese culture. Even in the modern day China, people still tend to shy away from any sex-related topic. Although scarcely-clad women are no longer an uncommon scene in the Chinese media, most people still feel uncomfortable with this anti-traditional trend, as shown in this debate on the so-called “half-naked” statue.

Among the Weibo fans that are against this statue, the degree of opposition varies. Some consider it shameful and a taint on the Chinese culture. Many voiced their concern over the message it is sending to the children who visit the site. Others questioned this “apparently out-of-line” way of promoting business, saying that it is too much for the Chinese. Here are some of their comments:

@XiaoyueSuiyue: I wonder who the designer is. Why does the figure have to be bare-chestedIt brought shame on us even in front of the foreigners.

@Dongyi Star 7757: It is a cultural disaster.

@The Darkness I Fear: The sculpture must be mentally-disturbed. There is no such depiction in the novel about Wu Song baring Pan Jinlian’s chest when he revenges his brother’s death! The administrators at the site are even worse for allowing it to be demonstrated! Don’t they know there are children visiting? It is ruining our next generation!

@ Dream Chasing Yuhua Stone: Using bare chests to catch people’s eyes makes me worry about China’s future.

@ Cui Dechang from Zibo: It looks like they are trying to attract people’s attention. But they went too far because it is causing very bad influences.

@ The Genuine One: Just a gesture is enough. Does it have to be so revealing? We are not that westernized.

@ Travelled with Music: In fact it is not a question about being artistic; it is about whether or not it should be artistic in a situation like this.

Yet despite the majority’s denouncement, quite a lot of Weibo fans are tolerant and think nothing more of the statue than a mere form of art. Some even ridiculed the opposition camp as vulgar and laughable. Others expressed their desire for a more open mentality among the Chinese.

@ Burning Ice Age: My attitude: A, it’s eye-catching; B, it’s artistic.

@ Cherry---Dan: I think it’s nothing. Whether it’s artistic or pornographic is just individual opinion. Why are Chinese people so dodgy when it comes to sexual issues?

@ Prince Xiaoyu: … How long is China going to stay conservative? What do you think, Yuan Fang?

@Duola’s Ear: Can’t people see the western paintings and sculptures? It’s nothing abnormal. Do those opposers all have higher morals than the rest of us? Hehe.

@Yidiantong PAN: After 30 years of opening up, people are still making such a fuss over nothing. It is both laughable and deplorable.

@ MCC group brand 360facom: Our sex education should open up as well.

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