Deng Xiaoping’s Unexpected Orientalist Iconography

The appeal of the (Staged) Exotic Court as a trope for the grandeur of the Deng Xiaoping regime (1978-…l) – and again, one notes, in the Olympics Pageant of 2008 – is largely explained by this paradigm of surrogate Monarchy and Splendor. The diminutive. almost comical Deng with his cowboy hat was not possible as a King or Emperor at one remove, but the Galas he surreptitiously sponsored or (better, “allowed” to be offered to the Public at Great Events (Decennials, mainly)) in the first years of his supremacy bely an eagerness to project by surrogation “eastward” (ie, into Islamic ground) : and of course “backward” into lines of kingship long extinct, the two cardinal indicants of what we now abbreviate as “Orientalism”. (Turandot 1998 falls into this same lineage: the hero is desvcndant of Tamerlaine, the alter ego a Persian prince).

Banquet dance sequences in Silu huayu:

1. Tang court + Buddhist altar “dance” with pipa and string orchestra

2. “Persian” court Kazakh style banquet dancers (imagined)

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