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Nüshizhen 女師箴


The Four Categories of Literature
Nüshizhen 女師箴 "Admonitions to the instructress" is a short essay written by the Later Han period 後漢 (25-220) scholar Huangfu Gui 皇甫規. It described female conduct as part of a society in which women occupy an inferior place than men. This situation is explained by a natural constellation of all beings in the universe. Only if women act and speak in an appropriate, i.e. subservient, manner the family, society and the state as a whole will be in a perfect and harmonious state. The man has to act with the deportment of a king, and to be demanding like a lord. No woman shall act without proper etiquette, and no girl shall talk without correct demeanour. The Nüshizhen is thus one of the earliest books cementing the inferior position of women. It is included in the collection Quan Houhan wen 全後漢文.
Much more famous than Huangfu's short text is the somewhat longer Nüshizhen 女史箴 by Zhang Hua 張華 from the Jin period 晉 (265-420) which was illustrated by the famous painter Gu Kaizhi 顧愷之.


Source: Su Guoxia 蘇國霞 (1995), "Nüshizhen 女師箴", in Lu Leshan 盧樂山 (ed.), Zhongguo nüxing baike quanshu 中國女性百科全書, Hunyin jiating 婚姻家庭 (Shenyang: Dongbei daxue chubanshe), p. 76.

June 20, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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