Three Obediences and Four Virtues

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The Three Obediences and Four Virtues (Chinese : ; pinyin : Sān cóng ) is a set of moral principles and social code of behaviour for maiden and married women in East Asian Confucianism, especially in Ancient and Imperial China. Women were to obey their fathers, husbands, and sons, and to be modest and moral in their actions and speech. Some imperial eunuchs both observed these principles themselves and enforced them in imperial harems, aristocratic households and society at large.

Contents

History

The two terms ("three obediences" and "four virtues") first appeared in the Book of Etiquette and Ceremonial and in the Rites of Zhou respectively, which codified the protocol for an elegant and refined culture for Chinese civilization. The protocol was originally meant to define the various parts of a harmonious society and not intended as a rule book. This code has heavily influenced ancient and imperial China and influenced both Korea, Vietnamese and Japan as prescribed social philosophy even into the twentieth century. [1] (The four Confucian virtues include righteousness, ritual propriety, wisdom, and humanity.)

Three Feminine Obediences

The three obediences for born females are to obey, give obéisances and follow the spiritual, ethical and moral wisdom of:

  1. her father as a maiden daughter (Chinese : ; pinyin : Wèi jià cóng )
  2. her husband as a chaste wife (Chinese : ; pinyin : jià cóng )
  3. her sons, and upon conflicts, in prioritized order according to the seniority of each, as a widow in perpetuity dedicated to clan and family (Chinese : ; pinyin : cóng )

Four Feminine Virtues

The Four Feminine Virtues for women are: [2]

  1. Feminine Virtue in Ethics in matrimony (Chinese : ; pinyin : )
  2. Feminine Virtue in Speech in matrimony (Chinese : ; pinyin : yán )
  3. Feminine Virtue in Visage i.e. 'comportement' / manners / facial appearance, in matrimony (Chinese : ; pinyin : róng )
  4. Feminine Virtue in "Works" / 'oeuvres' i.e. active and ongoing feminine participation in chaste, monogamous, matrimonially-restricted sexual intercourse as a virgin preserved for a lifelong monogamous marriage arranged for the first and foremost interest and benefit of the Empire/State (in the case of Imperialty, extant Imperialty and/or any extant Royalty, Aristocracy), clan and family bridewealth and the name and moral fame of the patrilineal clans of birth, especially of the husband and in-laws but also of self and the mother's patrilineal clan of origin, and with virginity preserved until spiritually presented on wedding day upon clan-officiated and family-arranged marriage; lifetime monogamous maximal reproduction especially of son heirs and chaste daughters normally about ten offsprings at least five of which are healthy sons; loyal child-birth for the only one spouse in a lifelong marriage; and enlightened, dedicated and responsible child-rearing in lifelong maternity; spiritual, religious, moral, ethical and philosophical education of children; etc. (Chinese : ; pinyin : gōng )

See also

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