Li Bai was a prolific writer of poems, of which about a thousand have survived.They express the poet's love of his country, his compassion for the common people, and his condemnation of the arrogance and decadence of the rulers. None can read his poems without recognizing his contempt for feudal power and influence, and the deep sincerity of his quest for freedom. For centuries, people have recited and admired his poems because of his clearly delineated loves and hatreds and the unrestrained, refreshing style of his works. These are treasured jewels which have been handed down to the Chinese people.
About a hundred of Li Bai's poems are specially directed against the injustices inflicted on women. In poignant, subtle tones, the poet describes the distressing plight of women under feudal oppression, voices their aspirations, praises their good intentions and innocence, and laments their frustrations. His heart goes out to the oppressed, humiliated and distressed - the deserted women and the wives of traders and conscripted men.
Li Bai was an assiduous student of his forbears. He inherited and learned much from the fine tradition of ancient poetry and created his own artistic style on this basis. In the history of Chinese literature, he stands pre-eminent as a man who assimilated what was good of the cultural heritage and passed it on to posterity. His literary works greatly influenced the development of literature during the Tang Dynasty and have continued to enrich subsequent generations.
On the following page are a number of paintings Li Bai's heroines. They are the work of Pan Jiezi of the Beijing Painting Studio. An admirer of Li Bai's poems, he made a thorough study of the history and cultural relics of the Tang Dynasty. During trips to caves and temples, the artist copied scores of murals which enabled him to depict true to life the people of that period. The artist specializes in portraits, and his style is characterized by rich color, close attention to detail, beauty of form and a combination of realistic and decorative elements.