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The Inner Quarters: Marriage and the Lives of Chinese Women in the Sung Period [Paperback]

Patricia B. Ebrey

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Book Description

15 Dec 1993
The Sung Dynasty (960-1279) was a paradoxical era for Chinese women. This was a time when footbinding spread, and Confucian scholars began to insist that it was better for a widow to starve than to remarry. Yet there were also improvements in women's status in marriage and property rights. In this thoroughly original work, one of the most respected scholars of premodern China brings to life what it was like to be a woman in Sung times, from having a marriage arranged, serving parents-in-law, rearing children, and coping with concubines, to deciding what to do if widowed. Focusing on marriage, Patricia Buckley Ebrey views family life from the perspective of women. She argues that the ideas, attitudes, and practices that constituted marriage shaped women's lives, providing the context in which they could interpret the opportunities open to them, negotiate their relationships with others, and accommodate or resist those around them. Ebrey questions whether women's situations actually deteriorated in the Sung, linking their experiences to widespread social, political, economic, and cultural changes of this period. She draws from advice books, biographies, government documents, and medical treatises to show that although the family continued to be patrilineal and patriarchal, women found ways to exert their power and authority. No other book explores the history of women in pre-twentieth-century China with such energy and depth.

Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (15 Dec 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520081587
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520081581
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15.1 x 2 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 156,553 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Patricia Buckley Ebrey is Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Illinois, Urbana, and the author of Confucianism and Family Rituals in Imperial China (1991).

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The many paintings that survive from the Sung period give indications of what the Sung world looked like. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive 25 Dec 2001
By Erika Mitchell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book presents a comprehensive portrait of the lives of women in Sung China (960-1279 AD). The author explores such topics as marriage, dowries, rites and celebrations, women's work, husband-wife relations, motherhood, widowhood, concubines, and match-making. Because of the need to rely on written materials for much of the information, and because literacy was restricted mainly to the educated and upper classes, the book naturally contains many more details about the lives of rich women than of the poor. Nevertheless, Ebrey was still able to distill some information about peasant women and families as well. The book will appeal to anyone interested in women's studies, Chinese history, or Asian area studies.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reliable Description 20 Mar 2013
By Amanda - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I had to order this book in a hurry, so I just glanced through the seller's description and hoped for the best. I was rewarded. The book was very reasonably priced and the description of its condition was accurate. I would definitely buy from this seller again!
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