Ban Zhao and Lessons for Women

Topics: Han Dynasty, Confucianism, History of China Pages: 9 (2552 words) Published: November 8, 2014
California State University, Fullerton




Vinh Truong

Second Writing Assignment


MWF 12:00pm

FALL 2014

Dr. William A. Myers


_Nu-jie,_ translated as _Lessons for Women,_ by Ban Zhao is a famous Chinese literacy work about women, her virtues and her roles. Ban Zhao was the first known female Chinese historian and poet�. She was a renowned scholar under the Han dynasty and also a major contributor to the creation of one of the best-known history book ever written called _Han Shu,_ which is translated to _Book of Han�._

The Han dynasty is considered the most important time in the grand history of China. Many scholars have regarded the Han dynasty's reign as the "Golden Age of Chinese history" but not only that, the Chinese empire under the Han dynasty rose to the forefront of the world along side with the Romans, Parthians and Khushans as the four great societies in ancient time�. It was a time of transitioning in China as there were constant developments in many social and cultural departments such as literature, science, art and industry. The Han dynasty also followed the ideals of Confucianism, which were reflected through politics as the government not only appointed talented men but also already capable men who were determined to improve. Confucianism quickly became the official ideology of the great nation�.

The Han dynasty's reign also marked the transformation of China's literacy and intellectual history. Confucianism had already had a big impact on the Chinese culture and on the lives of the Chinese as well. Its' principles also benefited the intellectuals under the Han's reign. The ancient Chinese had invented paper and also learned to how devise the lunar calendar. Literature and philosophies also reached new heights as education was being developed which was made possible by the evolution of a common language. It was also during this time that Ban Zhao's father, Ban Biao, started his work on the book _Han Shu_ as he was determined to record the history of this time period�.

Ban Zhao was born in 45 C.E. and she was a daughter in an elite family, who had connections to the imperial court, under the Han dynasty�. She was educated and often tutored by her own mother�. By the mere age of 14, Ban Zhao had married Cao Shou who was also from her town of birth. However, Cao Shou's death in later years left Ban Zhao with the responsibilities of raising children on her own. She then devoted her life to literacy which led to the formation of the tradition of historical writings in China. Ban Zhao left her hometown for the capital with her mother and her brother, Ban Gu, as he became the designated historian and editor of _Han Shu�_. Many scholars believe that Ban Zhao had already assisted her brother and contributed her efforts to the work of _Han Shu_ at that time. Due to the devotion in her own work and the Chinese tradition, Ban Zhao never remarried. However, that led to the significant rise in her career as a historian and a writer when her most famous work, _Lessons for Women_, symbolized her effort of applying the principles of Confucianism to the lives of women.

_Lessons for Women_ was originally Ban Zhao's teachings for her daughters on how to be a proper women�. She intended the book to serve not only as lessons but also as a guideline for her daughters. She wanted them to manage themselves accordingly and behave the way a proper woman would. Be that as it may, the book identified itself with a much larger audience as it later became the referenced instruction manual for women who were striving for the ideals of Confucianism and who were to be a wife. _Lessons for Women_ emphasized the importance of the women way of life.

"Let a woman modestly yield to others; let her respect others; let her put others first, her last... Let a woman retire late to bed, but rise early to duties; let her not...

References: Lee, Yuen T. (n.d.). Ban Zhao: Scholar of Han Dynasty China. Retrieved October 5, 2014, from
Hasall, P
Nancy Lee Swann, trans., Pan Chao: Foremost Women Scholar of China (New York: Century, 1932), 82-90.
Strayer, R. (2013). Ways of the World: A Brief Global History with Sources (2nd ed.). Boston/New York: Bedford/St. Martin 's.
Larson, C. (2014, July 31). In China, More Girls Are on the Way. Retrieved October 5, 2014, from try-gets-more-educated
� Lee, Yuen T
� Nancy Lee Swann, trans., Pan Chao: Foremost Women Scholar of China (1932).
� Nancy Lee Swann, trans., Pan Chao: Foremost Women Scholar of China (1932).
� Nancy Lee Swann, trans., Pan Chao: Foremost Women Scholar of China (1932).
� Nancy Lee Swann, trans., Pan Chao: Foremost Women Scholar of China (1932).
� Nancy Lee Swann, trans., Pan Chao: Foremost Women Scholar of China (1932).
� Larson, C. In China, More Girls Are on the Way (2014, July 31).
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