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TitleCrossing the Gate: Everyday Lives of Women in Song Fujian (960–1279)
File Size7.1 MB
Total Pages374
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
1 Gates in and out of the Jia
	The House Gate (Men 門) and Lane Gate (Lü 閭)
	The Middle Gate (Zhong Men 中門)
	Gate Titles for Mothers
2 Women on Journeys
3 Women in Local Communities
	Inner Affairs (Nei Shi 内事) and Outer Affairs
(Wai Shi 外事)
	Women and Household Economy
	Women and Local Welfare
	Women and Public Projects
4 Women and Local Governments
	Women’s Participation in Local Administration
	Women and Governmental Structures
	Women and Lawsuits
	Women Under the Administration of Local Governments
	Gender Consideration in Local Governments’
Public Projects
5 Women and Religion
	Laywomen in Confucian Eyes
	Personal Practices
	Religious Communication with Relatives and Outsiders
	Religious Excursions
	Buddhist Funeral
6 Women and Burial
	Tomb Structure: From Single Chamber to Multichamber
	Joint Burial: Partition Wall and Passageway
	From Inner/Outer to Left/Right
	The Problem of One Man, Many Wives
	Funerary Accessories from Seven Multichamber Tombs
	Three Late Southern Song Tombs
	Mural Tombs
Appendix: Bibliography of Excavation Reports of Song Tombs
from Fujian
Document Text Contents
Page 2

Crossing the Gate

Page 187


Following his mentor Zhen Dexiu, he devoted himself to advocating
Zhu Xi’s daoxue 道學. Like Li Gang, he was bred in an elite family
with distinctive Buddhist inclinations and wrote a series of epitaphs for
women devoted to Buddhism, including his mother and sisters.34 Liu
thought highly of his mother’s and second sister’s unparalleled enlight-
enment. In the epitaph written for his second sister, he recalled that
his mother “comprehended Buddhism so deeply that even famous senior
Buddhist masters would bow to her wisdom. Only my sister was witty
enough to debate with her.”35 Liu’s sister “served Ms. Weiguo 魏國 (her
mother) [devotedly], and was never more than one step away from her.”36
She must have become aware of Buddhism in her childhood under her
mother’s care in the natal family. Liu Kezhuang recalled that she was
an extremely filial daughter. She prayed to the Buddha for their father’s
health, mourned his death and conducted vegetarian diet for three years.
After she married out, she frequently returned to her sick mother’s bed-
side to take care of her and offered her spiritual support. Very likely they
resumed discussing Buddhist issues to comfort the mother in her physi-
cal affliction. Liu was moved by the intimacy between his mother and
sister, which accorded with the Confucian value of filial piety and was
enhanced by their common Buddhist inclination. It was in his everyday
experience with these immediate female relatives that he noticed and
appreciated the similarity between Confucian and Buddhist moral con-
cerns in the domestic context.

In addition to female family members, Liu got to know laywomen
from other jias through male-bridged connections. He visited one Lady
Zheng frequently when he was her son’s colleague and was grateful for
her hospitality. He likely learned the details of her life through personal
communications with her or her relatives. In the commemorative eulogy,
he sighed,

No more pity for aging over ninety; 九秩復何憾
Past glory deepens sorrow after death. 生榮没更哀
[Her behavior in] the inner chamber sets a
standard for [all women] under the heaven
to follow; 閨門天下則
Her stature comes from [her devotion to]
Buddhism. 地位佛中來
[She read] palm leaf [manuscripts]37 from the
preface; 貝葉從頭看

Page 188


[She] planted pagoda trees38 in the garden
with her own hands. 庭槐一手栽
Maid hears the strike of qing at dawn;39 侍兒聞曉磬
Still expects [her] to come back from
meditation.40 猶恐坐禪迴

Unlike comprehensive epitaphs that were full of details, poem-like
eulogies were composed to summarize the deceased’s most distinctive and
memorable aspects. In this four-couplet verse, only the third one is a
straightforward description of Lady Zheng’s life. In spite of his compli-
ments about Lady Zheng’s womanly virtue, Liu Kezhuang represents her
life through exclusive reference to distinctive Buddhist icons. He viewed
it appropriate to select both the reading of Buddhist texts and cultivation
of trees associated with temples in the household courtyard as typifying
this elite woman’s life experience.

Liu Kezhuang, like his contemporary Confucians, expected and
recognized the positive aspects of women’s religious conditioning, but
he went further, attempting to explain laywomen’s good deeds in terms
of neo-Confucian theory. In Ms. Gu’s 顧氏 epitaph, Liu interpreted
Buddhist moral sentiments and behaviors in terms of the core neo-
Confucian idea of “principle (li 理).” “[Ms. Gu] did not read but her
sense of right and wrong all conformed to principle. . . . In her middle
age, she liked Buddhism. She did not limit her belief to the teaching
of [Buddhist] images, but engaged in cultivating her own mind.” All
this conformed to the neo-Confucian emphasis on self-improvement and
made her Buddhist practice unusual for an average laywoman in Liu’s
eyes. “The learning of the Way and the attainment of Confucian sage-
hood were exclusively reserved for men” as Ding-hwa Hsieh argues.41
Neo-Confucian scholars did not expect educated women elites to read
neo-Confucian texts or study neo-Confucianism as men did, never mind
illiterate women like Ms. Gu. However, women were also manifestations
of the universal principle (li) and could come to understand it through
self-cultivation, according to neo-Confucian theories.

Liu Kezhuang believed that Buddhist self-cultivation could lead
to Confucian ethical gains, and manipulated laywomen’s epitaphs to
disseminate neo-Confucian values. Laywomen who did not read neo-
Confucianism literature could be marked with neo-Confucian labels.
Ms. Gu was not a unique example. Another woman, Ms. Zhang 張氏,
became a Buddhist before the age of thirty, and Liu Kezhuang stated

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