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|Other Titles: ||The Position of Women in Worship in the Zhou(Chou) Dynasty: Research onGender, Status and Role in Bronze Inscriptions(Part One)|
|Authors: ||陳昭容;Choa-jung Chen|
社會地位。Zhou (Chou) dynasty, bronze inscriptions, women, gender, ancestor worship, family roles, social status
|Abstract: || This paper is based on the detailed analysis of a large number of Zhou (Chou) dynasty bronze inscriptions, examining the position of women in worship in the Western and Eastern Zhou. From the worship directed at women after death, it is found that the four important roles women played during life were those of daughter, wife, mother, and grandmother; of these, it was in the role of mother that women were most exalted. Female ancestors were much less the focus of ancestor worship than their male counter-parts; gender resulted in a definite difference in treatment of male and female ancestors.|
Looking at women's role in worshipping ancestors, it is found that most bronzes were cast for male patrons, and the majority of women owners were passive recipients of ritual bronze vessels as gifts from their husbands or fathers, for the purpose of worshipping the husband's ancestors. After marriage, women's ability to have vessels cast was weak, and vastly inferior to men's. Only a few women like empresses and concubines of the Zhou kings, and wives of feudal lords, etc., due to their relatively high status, could have bronzes made after their husband's death. Even ritual vessels made for such a deceased husband were uncommon; the fact that sons (rather than wives) had the majority of such inscribed bronze vessels cast attests to the limited autonomy of the wife.
Married women primarily worshipped the husband's ancestors, not normally participating in worship to her own ancestors or having ritual vessels made for them. The activities of the post-ritual banquet also focused primarily on the husband's blood lineage, and although women participated to some extent in the preparation of sacrificial items for the ritual, extremely few were invited to participate in the post-ritual banquet. Relatives by marriage sometimes received invitations, but their importance did not match that of the husband's blood relatives.
Overall, the Zhou dynasty was a period of male dominance and patriarchy, with the manufacture of ritual vessels and the entire ritual activity firmly in men's hands. Among the deceased recipients of worship, the status of male ancestors was also greater than that of female ancestors. Both after death, in being the focus of worship, and during life, in having ritual vessels made and participating in worship activities, women in the Zhou period occupied a weak and passive role.
|Appears in Collections:||[01 清華學報] 新31卷第4期|
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