Images of Women in Chinese Thought and Culture: Writings from the Pre-Qin Period through the Song Dynasty

Images of Women in Chinese Thought and Culture: Writings from the Pre-Qin Period through the Song Dynasty

Images of Women in Chinese Thought and Culture: Writings from the Pre-Qin Period through the Song Dynasty

Images of Women in Chinese Thought and Culture: Writings from the Pre-Qin Period through the Song Dynasty

Synopsis

This rich collection of writings -- many translated especially for this volume and some available in English for the first time -- provides a journey through the history of Chinese culture, tracing the Chinese understanding of women as elucidated in writings spanning more than two thousand years. From the earliest oracle bone inscriptions of the Pre-Qin period through the poems and stories of the Song Dynasty, these works shed light on Chinese images of women and their roles in society in terms of such topics as human nature, cosmology, gender, and virtue.

Excerpt

This anthology of Chinese texts from the earliest writings (ca. 1200 B.C.E.) to the Song dynasty (1279 C.E.) illustrates and explores Chinese perspectives on women and gender, cosmology and human nature, as well as women's social roles and virtue. It includes a variety of texts— many translated especially for this volume and some available in English for the first time—that might be classified as historical, philosophical, religious, and literary. All the texts collected here have contributed to and shaped the larger moral and philosophical vision of Chinese thought, culture, and tradition for thousands of years.

China possesses a long, rich textual history. Many ancient texts were followed as a blueprint of the Way (Dao), a sacred, cosmic vision of the natural order and the perfect model for living in the human world. Numerous selections presented here have been regarded throughout Chinese history as canonical—in the sense that they were either accepted as foundational for a person's moral and literary education or were thought to exemplify the teachings in foundational texts. Thus this collection furnishes readings from classics, such as The Book of Odes (Shijing), The Classic of Changes (Yijing), Confucius' Analects (Lunyu), and Laozi's Daodejing, while also featuring various less familiar works, such as The Comprehensive Discussions in the White Tiger Hall (Baihutong), Tang dynasty Examination Essays (Panbacui) and Epitaphs (Muzhiming), meant to commemorate the success of deceased mothers, wives, and daughters in living virtuous lives.

This anthology brings together some astonishing and usually scattered materials that specifically convey women's basic identities, their distinctive virtues, their ultimate purpose in life, and the social roles and responsibilities they might anticipate. Wherever possible, the writings that Chinese women have produced to instruct their daughters and sisters in the Way proper to women have been highlighted. For example, two complete texts from the so-called Four Books for Women (Nü sishu) are included here: Ban Zhao's Lessons for Women (Nüjie) and

The Four Books for Women (Nü sishu) include Lessons for Women (Nüjie) by Ban Zhao, The
Analects for Women (Nü lunyü) by the Tang female scholar Song Ruoxi, The Instructions for . . .

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