Sherin Wing


The following is an analysis of the Admonitions for Women (Nu Jie) by the Later Han Dynasty scholar, Ban Zhao. It examines the historical context for its composition, applying not only one literary template, that of the instructional text, the technological treatise, but also Confucian Commentary. Through this process, the Admonitions emerges as a sophisticated philosophical tract that combines not only several literary traditions, but applies them to a new, unique audience: elite women. In so doing, Ban Zhao challenges assumptions of women’s roles, expectations of women, and enlightens her readers as to what might be really happening among her contemporaries. Thus, this treatise comprises not only Ban Zhao’s ideals for women, but indicates what they were not doing (hence the necessity for her tract). Finally, literary, philosophical and historical contextualization offers a new look at many gendered readings of the material, in effect re-contextualizing in a more nuanced and layered approach.

Note on the Author

Sherin Wing is currently a PhD student in Chinese Buddhism at UCLA.