THE PROBLEM OF WOMAN
by Ban Zhao
Not all women were illiterate as is evidenced from the following composed by a Chinese female author. Living in the Han Dynasty, Ban Zhao (45-115? CE) wrote her "Lessons for Women" in which she discussed the values and behavoir of the ideal Confucian woman
On the third day after the birth of a girl the ancients
observed three customs: to place the baby below the bed; to give her a potsherd
with which to play; and to announce her birth to the ancestors by an offering.
[Now] the Way of husband and wife is intimately connected with Yin and Yang
and relates the individual to gods and ancestors. As Yin and Yang are not
the same nature, so man and woman have different characteristics. The distinctive
quality of the Yang is rigid; the function of the Yin is yielding. Man is
honored for strength; a woman is beautiful on account of her gentleness.
Source:Nancy Lee Swan, trasns., Ban Zhao: Foremost Woman Scholar of China (Century Press, 1932).
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