Written by Anne in March of 2009
Different women are beautiful in different ways. In English, you describe different beauty by using the words “cute”, “good-looking”, “beautiful”, “sexy”, “gorgeous”, etc. But in Chinese, the words to express different kind of beauty are in more detailed category.
“清纯” (clear and pure) is one kind of beauty people use to describe young girl who look innocent and pure. Not with too much make-up, not wearing fancy clothing. Audrey Hepburn is typical example. “清纯” girls are like white lilies.
“艳丽” (strong and colourful beautiful) is another kind of beauty people use to describe girls or women who look like peony, full-opened, mature, strong colours. Like Elizabeth Taylor.
“端庄” (dignified beauty) is the word to describe the ladies who have fine and solemn features, the motherly beauty. It was used as a standard to choose queens in ancient China. Like Nicole Kidman.
These are three typical types of beauty. And there are also other words to describe different beauty, like “清秀”,”俊俏”, “野性美”(wild beauty, like Angelina Julie) etc.
To describe very very very beautiful women, Chinese language has very imaginative words, like:
“沉鱼落雁,闭月羞花” which means “when fishes see the girl, they feel too ashamed of themselves that they fall to the bottom of the pool. When the swallows see the girl, they fall from the sky. When the Moon sees the girl, the moon wanes. When the flowers see the girl, they close up because they are so ashamed of themselves.
It is only used to describe very beautiful woman, and esp. used in ancient China stories. Another very strong word is “倾国倾城” which means the woman is so beautiful that the city and the country lean/collapse. Like Hellen in the Trojan War in history.