2012 New History
P. O. Box 1-44, Nankang, Taipei 11529, Taiwan, R. O. C.
02-2782-9555 # 226


Eroticized Tibet: How Han Chinese Imagined Tibetan Women
during the Republican Period

Jin-sheng Jian

Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica

This article examines the discourse of Han Chinese about Tibetan women during the republican period, particularly how male Han Chinese erotically imagined Tibetan women. Han Chinese represented politics, society, history, and geography by gendering and eroticizing Tibet, noting inverted gender roles and fraternal polyandry in Tibetan society. But there is no fixed gendering and eroticized discourse among these writings. In the context of the women’s movement of the republican era, Tibetan women were also regarded as physically strong and freedom. These positive descriptions, however, were just a romantic image drawn in contrast with Han women. Appealing to modernization and civilization, male Han Chinese gendered Tibetan ethnicity and conquered a femanized Tibet, even through intermarriage. A few travelers and anthropologists offered precise observations and research on Tibet women and the marriage system, but more often Tibet was completely demonized and erocitized.


Keywords: perceptions of Tibet, Tibetan women, gendered ethnicity, eroticized Tibet, polyandry