Body monarch and monarchial body - a comparative study on the physiognomy of monarch in Italian and Chinese literary descriptions

Qi Chen

Abstract


As a mechanism to make communication between the body and the exterior world, Physiognomy is one of the most vivid perspectives to examine the relationship between the individual and the world. Just as G.B.Della Porta said, the physiognomic costumi corresponds with the worldly custom. The essay focuses on the physiognomy of monarch. In Italian and Chinese literary descriptions of monarch it exist the physiognomic features, or, the influence of physiognomy, which can be considered from two aspects. One is the monarchial body, or the confined monarch. The physiognomy reveals the identity. In both Italian and Chinese descriptions in particular epoch, the physical features of monarch are simile, which made the monarchs in one. The other is the body monarch, or the confining monarch. The particular physiognomy of monarch is stabilized and even legitimated exclusively in vocabulary and pattern of depiction, which thrusts upon the people the impression of the natural nobility of monarch thereby strengthens regal authority. The physiognomy thus becomes an expression of power. Both Italian and Chinese physiognomies of monarch present the two characteristics above, except for the specific descriptions according to the relative treatises respectively, for example, the extraordinary appearance of Chinese emperor. The essay seeks to make a comparison study between Italian and Chinese literature from the two aspects with detailed interpretation of physiognomic appearances of monarch-the signification and the implication-out of which one can see the similarities and differences of Italian and Chinese culture.

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