Rivolia Chen Xiao-Yu (陳瀟玉) '23, Gettysburg College

Class Year


Document Type

Book Chapter

Date of Creation

Spring 2022

Department 1


Department 2

Interdisciplinary Studies


Among the preserved materials, there exists no image of Dr. Chen that was produced by anyone who interacted with him face-to-face during the forty or forty-one years from 659 when he was born in southwestern China to early 700 when he was "harmed to death" (Du Fu) [2] while severely ill during his second imprisonment because of his political persecution. Nevertheless, it is certain that as to his physical appearance, Dr. Chen was young, having long, black hair and black eyes, while being emaciated and suffering from his prolonged physical illness.

In this chapter, I complete an in-depth analysis of the preserved records on Dr. Chen's physical appearance. From the perspective of the research accomplishments by the contemporary American psychologist Richard Russell, I further research, analyze, and converse with Dr. Russell to contribute to the maximal reconstruction of Dr. Chen's physical appearance. I further receive direct assistance from Dr. Chien Chin-Sung (1954–), a Taiwanese scholar and educator who is a current research fellow and a previous department chair at the Department of Chinese Literature of the Sun Yat-Sen University in Taiwan, and Dr. I-Chung Chou, a professor at the department of Chinese of the Changhua University of Education in Taiwan. I also use the chapter, "Joan's Personal Appearance" in Joan of Arc: The Warrior Saint (2003) by American military official and Joan of Arc researcher, Stephen Wesley Richey, as a reference.[3] I maximally reconstruct Dr. Chen's physical appearance as the following:

Dr. Chen was a young man who had long black hair and black eyes. When appearing in public, as long as he had the conditions to do so, he bound his long, black hair in the common hairstyles among his contemporary Chinese men. Nevertheless, when in situations such as resting in his bed because of his long-term illness, his long, black hair was often untied. For a long time, Dr. Chen was very thin, and he had suffered from long-term physical illness. Dr. Chen's physical appearance further included most if not all of these characteristics: a light skin color, a comparatively soft skin texture, little or no facial wrinkles, a relatively high facial contrast, a comparatively wide distance between eyebrows and eyes, relatively thick lips, a comparatively small head, and a comparatively small jaw. Often, his dress and accessories were neither opulent nor dazzling, but simple and refined. His physical appearance had a medium-high or a medium level of attractiveness. More signs indicate that his physical appearance had a medium-high level of attractiveness. By common standards, Dr. Chen's physical appearance had the characteristics of being tender, and his face was relatively feminine and youthful. Dr. Chen’s physical appearance seemed to have the characteristics of being elegant, or having a simple, natural, and “unbound”[4] beauty, or both.