Qing Dynasty Concubine and Official

I was at a Chinese restaurant in Palo Alto last Sunday when I came upon this sign for the restroom doors.  I was not shocked or took it as offensive or anything…but I found it interesting and got me thinking.  The intent was to show a Chinese woman and man.  They used an image of a Qing dynasty empress or concubine and an official or emperor in traditional attire to depict a Chinese person.  The Qing dynasty ruled China from 1644 to 1912.  The rulers hail from the province of Manchuria.

This is something I’ve been pondering lately…what is Chinese culture?  What is an image of a Chinese that can represent all Chinese?  Because China has been through so many dynasties with each dynasty having it’s own unique characteristic, it is impossible to define Chinese culture in a nutshell.  The image of a Qing dynasty figure does not represent what a Chinese is.  This sign is outdated by 101 years.

1392095_10151900847146558_490007533_nThe signs on each of the restroom doors of the Chinese restaurant in Palo Alto.  I assume this sign is commercially available.  It’s the first time I’ve seen it.  I think it was meant to be cute.

pearl_concubineImperial Consort Zhen, better known as the “Pearl Concubine

detectivecomics1A stereotypical racist image of a Chinese in Qing imperial garb.  Also know as Fu Manchu.  This kind of image continues to haunt Chinese Americans to this day.

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