Three Obediences and Four Virtues
The Three Obediences and Four Virtues (三从四德; Sāncóng Sìdé) are the most basic set of moral principles and social code of behaviour for maidens and married women in East Asian Confucianism especially in Ancient and Imperial China. Even Chinese prostitutes in Ancient China followed this code to be defined as feminine. Some imperial eunuchs and modern gay men are also heavily influenced by these principles and rules, both observing them themselves and also enforcing and policing these behaviors in imperial harems, aristocratic households and society at large. The two Han Chinese 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. It was originally meant to define the various parts of a harmonious society and not intended as a rule book. This code has heavily influenced feudal ancient and imperial China until the recent Maoist Era. It has heavily influenced both Korea and Japan as proscribed social philosophy until North Korea became Communist. Parts of it are still followed in Japan until today although it had been abandoned during the Marxist-inspired Great Leap Forward in China leading to mass depopulation and social chaos.
Three Feminine Obediences
The three obediences for born females are to obey, give obéisances and follow the spiritual, ethical and moral wisdom of:
- her father as a maiden daughter (未嫁从父; Wèijià cóngfù)
- her husband as a chaste wife (既嫁从夫; Jìjià cóngfū)
- her sons, and upon conflicts, in prioritized order according to the seniority of each, as a widow in perpetuity dedicated to clan and family (夫死从子; Fūsǐ cóngzǐ)
Four Feminine Virtues
The Four Feminine Virtues for women are:
- Feminine Virtue in Ethics in matrimony (婦德; Fùdé)
- Feminine Virtue in Speech in matrimony (婦言; Fùyán)
- Feminine Virtue in Visage i.e. ‘comportement‘ / manners / facial appearance, in matrimony (婦容; Fùróng)
- Feminine Virtue in “Kungfu” / “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. (婦功; Fùgōng)
- Kelleher, M. Theresa (2005). “San-ts’ung ssu-te”. In Taylor, Rodney L.; Choy, Howard Y.F. (eds.). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Confucianism. 2 N-Z. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 496.
- Knapp, Keith (2015). “Sancong side 三从四德 (Threefold obedience and four virtues)”. In Yao Xinzhong (ed.). Encyclopedia of Confucianism. Oxon: Routledge.
Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia