Friday, September 19, 2008

Lessons for Women

Lessons for Women is a work by the Han Dynasty female intellectual Ban Zhao.


Lessons for Women outlines the four virtues a woman must abide by, proper virtue, proper speech, proper countenance, and proper conduct. The book itself describes the status and position of women in society. It is a small book and many women had the sections memorized. The book contains only 7 chapters as outlined below. Most are relatively obvious from their titles.


Chapter Pinyin Translation Subject
1 卑弱 Beiruo
Humility defined the relative natural positions between the male and female sexes. Accordingly, the female was deemed to be the more diminutive of the two and naturally, the more humble.
2 夫妇 Fufu
Husband and Wife
The sole role of a woman as a wife was to serve her husband.
3 敬慎 Jingshen
Respect and Caution
As defined by the yin and yang duality, in yang whereas in yin , husband and wife should mutually respect each other.
4 妇行 Fuxing
Womanly Qualifications
Simply the qualifications deemed necessary for the ideal woman whether in her virtue, her type of work, or the words she
5 专心 Zhuanxin
Whole-hearted Devotion
This was usually depicted by the woman's devotion to the husband. For example, if the husband were to die, there would be no re-marriage for the widow. This was deemed to be the most virtuous task
in later dynasties.
6 曲从 Qucong
Implicit Obedience
A section that is dedicated to obedience towards the mother and father in law.
7 叔妹 Shumei
Harmony Between Younger In-laws

Precepts for Women

Ban Zhao also wrote on the four desired "Precepts for Women" which were intended to guide women in society. These precepts were ■ womanly virtue, womanly speech, womanly manner and womanly merit.

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