Women and Gender in Ancient China and India. Shang and Zhou Dynasty. Oracle Bones . Development of Writing Oracle Bones Ancestor Worship Filial Piety . Examples of Filial Piety . Selection from the Confucian Analects: On Filial Piety
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Development of Writing
Selection from the Confucian Analects:
On Filial Piety
1:11 The Master said, “When a person’s father is alive, observe his intentions. After his father is no more, observe his actions. If for three years he does not change his father’s ways, he is worthy to be called filial.”
Selections from The Classic of Filiality (Xiaojing)
Our body, skin, and hair are all received from our parents; we dare not injure them. This is the first priority in filial duty. To establish oneself in the world and practice the Way; to uphold one’s good name for posterity and give glory to one’s father and mother ‑‑ this is the completion of filial duty. Thus filiality begins with service to parents, continues in service to the ruler, and ends with establishing oneself in the world [and becoming an exemplary person].
SHE BIT HER FINGER AND PAINED HIS HEART
His mother has just bitten her finger,
When her son's heart aches uncontrollably;
He shoulders his wood to return and is not too late;
The tie between mother and child [lit.: bones & flesh] is so deep.
HE LET MOSQUITOES CONSUME HIS BLOOD
On summer nights without a mosquito net,
When mosquitoes are many he dares not wave them off;
They gorge themselves on his flesh and blood,
And thus he avoids their bothering his parents.
Warring States Period
Creation of the Analects
View of Women and thier Roles
Confucian doctrine, however, did not accord women a status equal to that of men, because women were generally regarded as unworthy or incapable of a literary education. In fact, the Confucian classics say little about women, which shows how little they rnattred in the scheme of Confucian values. Most Confucians accepted the subservience of women to men as natural and proper. In their view, failure to maintain a proper relationship between two such obviously unequal people as a husband and wife or brother and sister would result in social disharmony and a breakdown of all the rules of propriety.
Yet this was only part of the traditional Chinese view of women. Both Confucian doctrine and Chinese society at large accorded women, as noth mothers and mothers-in-law, a good deal of honor, and with that honor came power within the family structure. In every age, moreover, a handful of extraordinary women managed to acquire literary educations or otherwise achieve positions of far-ranging influence and authority despite social constraints.
Selection from the Confucian Analects:
On Women and Servants
17:25 Women and servants are most difficult to nurture. If one is close to them, they lose their reserve, while if one is distant, they feel resentful.
Ban Zhao Lessons for Women
On the third day after the birth of a girl the ancients observed three customs: first to place the baby below the bed; second to give her a potsherd [a piece of broken pottery] with which to play; and third to announce her birth to her ancestors by an offering. Now to lay the baby below the bed plainly indicated that she is lowly and weak, and should regard it as her primary duty to humble herself before others. To give her potsherds with which to play indubitably signified that she should practice labor and consider it her primary duty to be industrious. To announce her birth before her ancestors clearly meant that she ought to esteem as her primary duty the continuation of the observance of worship in the home.
Han was Ban Zhao (ca 45-116 CE), younger sister of the court historian Ban Gu (32 - 92 CE). Upon Gu's death,, Zhao served as imperial historian under Emperor Han Hedi (r. 88-105 CE) and completed her brother's Han Annals, a history of the Former Han Dynasty, which is generally regarded as second only to the historical work of Sima Qian. Ban Zhao also served as an adviser on state matters to the Empress Deng, who assumed power as regent for her infant son in 106 CE.
Influence of the Caste System on Indian Society
2/213"It is the nature of women to seduce men in this world; for that reason the wise are never unguarded in the company of females."
3/17. " Brahman who marries a Shudra woman, degrades himself and his whole family ,becomes morally degenerated , loses Brahman status and his children too attain status of shudra."
5/150. A female child, young woman or old woman is not supposed to work independently even at her place of residence.
5/151. Girls are supposed to be in the custody of their father when they are children, women must be under the custody of their husband when married and under the custody of her son as widows. In no circumstances is she allowed to assert herself independently.
9/6. "It is the duty of all husbands to exert total control over their wives. Even physically weak husbands must strive to control their wives."
9/3. "Since women are not capable of living independently, she is to be kept under the custody of her father as child, under her husband as a woman and under her son as widow."
Savitri and the God of Death is a story that extols the virtue and cunning of a woman who is markedly independent in her actions. In the story, the birth of Savitri made her unique from the start. The goddess Savitri granted the king a child after much prayer and worship. Due to her unique origins, beauty and intelligence she found herself tasked with finding a suitable husband.
When she finally found her future husband, she was warned that he only had a year to live, but chose to marry him anyway. This was a significant decision since widows were traditionally afforded almost no status in society and often viewed with indifference to contempt. Upon the day of his foretold death she traveled with him, all the while he was unaware of his fate. When the god of death came to claim his soul, Savitri refused to leave her husband's soul. Through her intelligence and cunning she was able to outwit the god of death and regain her husband life.
Challenges to Hinduism and Women's Roles
A woman well set free! How free I am,
How wonderfully free, from kitchen drudgery.
Free from the harsh grip of hunger,
And from empty cooking pots,
Free too of that unscrupulous man,
The weaver of sunshades.
Calm now, and serene I am,
All lust and hatred purged.
To the shade of the spreading trees I go
And contemplate my happiness.
So free am I, so gloriously free,
Free from three petty things –
From mortar, from pestle, and from my twisted lord,
Freed from rebirth and death I am,
And all that has held me down
Is hurled away.