Was Mona Lisa a Chinese slave?

Updated 03 December 2014
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Was Mona Lisa a Chinese slave?

BEIJING: An Italian historian’s theory that Mona Lisa might be a Chinese slave and Leonardo da Vinci’s mother — making the 15th-century polymath half-Chinese — sent online commentators into a frenzy Wednesday.
Angelo Paratico, a Hong Kong-based historian and novelist from Italy, told the South China Morning Post: “On the back of Mona Lisa, there is a Chinese landscape and even her face looks Chinese.”
Chinese web users expressed astonishment and disbelief Wednesday, posting dozens of parodies of the painting, with faces from Chinese comedians to British actor Rowan Atkinson grafted over her delicate features.
Little is known about Caterina, the mother of the artist, writer, mathematician and inventor, and the identity of the sitter for the portrait hanging in Paris’ Louvre museum has long been a matter of debate.
Paratico, who is finishing a book entitled Leonardo da Vinci: a Chinese scholar lost in Renaissance Italy, cited Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud’s 1910 assumption that the painting was inspired by the artist’s mother. “One wealthy client of Leonardo’s father had a slave called Caterina. After 1452, Leonardo’s date of birth, she disappeared from the documents,” he told the paper.
The evidence for a Chinese connection appears to be slight, with Paratico saying he was sure “up to a point” that da Vinci’s mother was from the Orient. “To make her an oriental Chinese, we need to use a deductive method,” he added.
Many posters on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo were incredulous.
“I’m so sad that you thought I’m a foreigner!” wrote one, with an image of a frowning Mona Lisa holding two rolls of toilet paper and blowing her nose. “I’d rather be from wherever I am loved.”
Another user replaced her features with unlikely faces ranging from Chinese male comedian Zhao Benshan to British actor Rowan Atkinson, to a grimacing robot holding a Mona Lisa mask.
The topic had been viewed more than four million times and triggered 160,000 postings by midday Wednesday.
“I now understand why her smile looks so mysterious and concealed — it’s typically Chinese,” said another poster.


Taiwan’s ‘selfie queen’ Gigi Wu dies after ravine fall

Updated 22 January 2019
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Taiwan’s ‘selfie queen’ Gigi Wu dies after ravine fall

  • The social media star fell down a ravine in Taiwan’s Yushan national park on Saturday
  • She used a satellite phone to tell friends of the fate that had befallen her

TAIPEI: Taiwanese rescue teams were trying Tuesday to retrieve the body of a dead hiker who became famous on social media for taking selfies on top of mountain peaks dressed in a bikini.
Gigi Wu — dubbed the “Bikini Climber” by fans — used a satellite phone on Saturday to tell friends she had fallen down a ravine in Taiwan’s Yushan national park and badly injured herself.
Rescue helicopters struggled to reach her because of bad weather and officials eventually located her lifeless body on Monday.
“The weather conditions in the mountains are not good, we have asked our rescuers to move the body to a more open space and after the weather clears we will make a request for a helicopter to bring the body down,” Lin Cheng-yi, from the Nantou County Fire and Rescue Services, told reporters.
Officials said Wu had told friends she was unable to move the lower half of her body after a fall of some 20-30 meters (65-100 feet) but was able to give her coordinates.
She is the latest in a string of social media adventure seekers who have met an untimely end.
Last week, the bodies of an Indian couple were found at the bottom of a popular overlook in California’s Yosemite National Park after hikers alerted officials to their camera equipment at the top of the cliff.
New Taipei City native Wu, 36, built up a sizeable social media following through photos of herself at the top of mountains dressed in bikinis.
She usually wore hiking clothes to scale the mountains, only changing into a bikini once she reached the top.
In an interview with local channel FTV last year, she said she had scaled more than 100 peaks in four years.
“I put on a bikini in each one of the 100 mountains. I only have around 97 bikinis so I accidentally repeated some,” she said.
When asked why she did it, she replied: “It just looks so beautiful, what’s not to like?“
While Taiwan is a largely tropical country, it boasts a spine of towering peaks down its middle that regularly top 3,000 meters. In the winter, temperatures routinely drop well below freezing on the mountain slopes.
Lin said their top rescue team hiked for 28 hours to reach the body, only sleeping for three hours because they knew temperatures were rapidly plunging.