Courtesans, Concubines, and the Cult of Female Fidelity by Beverly Bossler

By Beverly Bossler

This e-book strains altering gender relatives in China from the 10th to fourteenth centuries by means of analyzing 3 serious different types of girls: courtesans, concubines, and devoted better halves. It exhibits how the intersection and mutual impact of those groups—and of male discourses approximately them—transformed rules approximately relatives kin and the correct roles of guys and ladies. Courtesan tradition profoundly affected track social and relatives lifestyles, as leisure abilities turned a defining function of a brand new version of concubinage and entertainer-concubines more and more turned moms of literati sons. Neo-Confucianism, the hot ethical studying of the tune, was once in flip considerably formed by way of this leisure tradition and the recent markets in ladies it created. Responding to a large social consensus, Neo-Confucians known as for better ritual attractiveness of concubine moms and expressed elevated main issue approximately wifely jealousy. The e-book additionally info the occasionally astounding origins of the overdue Imperial cult of constancy, displaying that from its inception the force to have fun girl loyalty stemmed from a posh amalgam of political, social, and ethical agendas. via taking women—and men’s relationships with them—seriously, Beverly Bossler demonstrates the centrality of gender family within the social, political, and highbrow lifetime of the music and Yuan dynasties.

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3 I then show how courtesans were implicated in contestations over the proper parameters of official behavior and elite identity, as the state, its officials, and the expanding literati class vied to determine how elite status was to be defined and performed. In the mid- to late Northern Song, factional politics and new ideas about Confucian morality led some to suggest that the enjoyment of courtesans was inimical to proper moral behavior; but these suggestions had little impact at the time, and with the support of the artistically inclined Emperor Huizong 徽宗 (r.

57 54. Wang Junyu, Za zuan xu, 67, 73. 55. Paul Rouzer has described the ninth-century Tang courtesan quarters as a place where educated young men began to feel that “they must acquire a certain ‘cultural capital’ or prestige in order to define themselves as a class” (Articulated Ladies, 257–68). The social dynamics Rouzer describes were even more salient in the Northern Song, when the society was more fluid and signifiers of status even less well defined. 56. 2538. Although the identification of this “Chengbo” as Zhao Chengbo is not definitive, other references in Su’s collected works to his friendship with Zhao Chengbo suggest that he is the most likely candidate.

The discussion in parts 1 and 2 of this book necessarily reflects these differences. 4. ” 5. 6 Another important innovation that appears to have taken place in the late Tang was the establishment (or at least the regularization) of a system of government-courtesans: entertainers maintained by the state at higher-level government offices throughout the realm. 7 Finally, a third significant development in the social role of entertainers was associated with the expansion of cities and development of an urban merchant class that began to take place in the last century or so of Tang rule.

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