Tales of “Tiger Women” from Ancient China

In ancient China, Confucian traditions required women to be gentle and obedient. According to “The Book of Rites,” a collection of texts mainly published in the Han dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE) on the society and politics of the Zhou era (1046 – 256 BCE), unmarried women must obey their fathers, while married women…

In feeble China, Confucian traditions required women folks to be light and obedient. In accordance to “The E book of Rites,” a series of texts primarily printed in the Han dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE) on the society and politics of the Zhou generation (1046 – 256 BCE), unmarried women folks need to obey their fathers, while married women folks had been supposed to be subservient to their husbands and obey their sons if their husbands died. Other halves who failed to meet the requirement will more than seemingly be called “female tigers,” most incessantly a pejorative time duration for tricky, imperious, or “unreasonable” women folks — an identical to the standard time duration “tiger mother,” though no longer outlandish to fogeys.

For the length of history, many women folks gained — most incessantly unfair — reputations as intractable. Vital of this stemmed from the sexism of patriarchal feeble Chinese language society. A nearer peek finds plenty of the ladies folks labeled “female tigers” merely stepped in when their husbands scuffled with others, or disliked them visiting prostitutes and taking concubines. Listed below are some of essentially the most smartly-known “tiger women folks” from feeble China:

The girl who timid an assassin

Zhuan Zhu develop into one of the necessary “Four Assassins” of feeble China, each and every of whom modified into smartly-known for killing a tyrant. Born in the Spring and Autumn duration (770 – 476 BCE), he develop into hired by Prince Guang of the Voice of Wu to kill the Wu king. Prince Guang arranged a dinner with the king and Zhuan disguised himself as a servant, hid a knife in the abdominal of a cooked fish, and stabbed the king to loss of life as he served the fish to him. The king’s bodyguards killed Zhuan on the scene as he tried to score his score away.

But this supposedly fearless assassin develop into most tremendously an excellent deal surprised of his necessary other. In accordance to The Spring and Autumn Annals of Wu and Yue, a historical story from the Eastern Han dynasty (25 – 220), when Wu Zixu, an legit serving Prince Guang, met Zhuan for the foremost time, an furious Zhuan develop into combating ruffians on the boulevard. But when Zhuan’s necessary other regarded, and requested him to break combating and return home, to every person’s surprise, he without lengthen ended his fight and left with her.

Greatly surprised, Wu requested Zhuan why he develop into so obedient to a girl, to which he answered: “I’m 2d to correct one individual, nonetheless I’m above the entire others.” Listening to that, Wu concluded that Zhuan develop into dauntless, nonetheless no longer reckless, and so suggested him to Prince Guang for the assassination mission.

Though crucial functions of Zhuan’s necessary other are sparse, alongside with even her surname, she develop into recorded as a “tigress” in legit records, while Zhuan develop into labeled “the foremost henpecked man in history” by students in later dynasties.

The high minister’s necessary other who refused the emperor

Fang Xuanling develop into high minister below the reign of Emperor Taizong in the Tang dynasty (618 – 907), and his necessary other, surnamed Lu, had a recognition for being virtuous and actual. In accordance to The Contemporary E book of Tang, an legit history executed in the Song dynasty (960 – 1279), when Fang fell severely sick and thought he would soon die, he informed Lu: “I’m demise, nonetheless you are tranquil young. Enact no longer stay in widowhood. Gain one other individual, and indulge in an ethical existence with him.” On the opposite hand, Lu refused and even poked one of her accept as true with eyes out as a symbol of her loyalty to Fang and vowed she would by no map marry all once more.

Yet in a big desire of folks tales, Lu is described as a stubborn and shrewish lady; her obstinacy even birthed the phrase chicu, or utilize vinegar, that solution to be jealous of a savor rival and is tranquil in utilize this present day.

In accordance to The Anecdotes of the Emperors, Ministers, and Total Males, a recent by creator Zhang Zhuo recording anecdotes in the Tang dynasty, Fang develop into so tremendously an excellent deal surprised of Lu that he didn’t make a choice any concubines, a scandal in those ultra-patriarchal times.

Upon listening to of Lu’s have an effect on, the Taizong Emperor determined to intervene and awarded Fang a concubine. Despite the emperor’s uncover, Lu forbade the concubine from joining their family. The emperor develop into furious by Lu’s disobedience and summoned her to court, telling her to drink a cup of lethal poison or gain the concubine. Lu drank the liquid without hesitation.

But she didn’t die. The emperor laughed. He informed Lu the cup contained easiest vinegar —it had been a test of her nerve. The emperor develop into so impressed by Lu’s principled nature that he revoked the award of Fang’s concubine and by no map interfered in their marriage all once more.

The “Hedong Lion”

The so much of other of Chen Zao develop into actually apt so fierce by contemporaries that Song dynasty poet Su Shi, most incessantly identified as Su Dongpo, labeled her the “Hedong Lion.” In a single of Su’s poems, he described his pal Chen’s peril of his necessary other: “My pal Chen Zao is so unhappy. When chatting with chums at a occasion one night, he all without lengthen heard a Hedong lion’s shout. so badly, he may maybe easiest stand there helplessly leaning on his walking stick.”

Chen develop into a proficient pupil, who also loved drinking, partying, and soliciting prostitutes. Chen’s necessary other, surnamed Liu, develop into from Hedong, in the southwestern segment of this present day’s Shanxi province. Liu develop into curiously moody and step by step broke up Chen’s parties by yelling at him and expelling his chums. Su used “Hedong lion’s shout” as a metaphor for Liu’s shouts.

Ming dynasty (1368 – 1644) playwright Wang Tingne primarily primarily based his play, The Lioness’s Snort, on Liu and Chen. In Wang’s play, after Liu realized Chen having a occasion with chums and prostitutes, she introduced Chen home without lengthen and compelled him to kneel down by a pond in their yard as punishment. Su went to their home to protect Chen, nonetheless Liu kicked him out.

The memoir has been widely unfold even this present day and has been tailored into infinite performs, TV dramas, and movies. Folks most incessantly utilize the idiom “the Hedong lion roars” to verbalize a moody necessary other quarreling with her husband.

Reporter: Solar Jiahui.

Right here is an recent article from The World of Chinese language, and has been republished with permission. The article will more than seemingly be realized on The World of Chinese language’s internet stutter here.

(Header image: A stage picture of a Kunqu opera adaption of  “The Lioness’ Snort,” 2016. From @北方昆曲剧院 on WeChat)

  • history
  • gender