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Ban Zhao (Chinese: 班昭; 49 – c. 120 CE) was a Chinese historian and politician. She was the first known female Chinese historian.
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- A woman (ought to) have four qualifications: (1) womanly virtue; (2) womanly words; (3) womanly bearing; and (4) womanly work. Now what is called womanly virtue need not be brilliant ability, exceptionally different from others. Womanly words need be neither clever in debate nor keen in conversation. Womanly appearance requires neither a pretty nor a perfect faceand form. Womanly work need not be work done more skillfully than that of others.
To guard carefully her chastity; to control circumspectly her behavior; in every motion to exhibit modesty; and to model each act on the best usage, this is womanly virtue.
To choose her words with care; to avoid vulgar language; to speak at appropriate times; and not to weary others(with much conversation), may be called the characteristics of womanly words.
To wash and scrub filth away; to keep clothes and ornaments fresh and clean; to wash the head and bathe the body regularly, and to keep the person free from disgraceful filth, may be called the characteristics of womanly bearing.
With whole-hearted devotion to sew and to weave; to love not gossip and silly laughter; in cleanliness and order (to prepare) the wine and food for serving guests, may be called the characteristics of womanly work.
These four qualifications characterize the greatest virtue of a woman. No woman can affordto be without them. In fact they are very easy to possess if a woman only treasure them in her heart. The ancients had a saying: "Is Love afar off? If I desire love, then love is at hand!" So can it be said of these qualifications.
- Lessons for Women, Ch. 4, in Pan Chao, Foremost Woman Scholar of China, by Nancy Lee Swann (New York: Russell & Russell, 1968 ), p. 86
- Encyclopedic article on Ban Zhao on Wikipedia