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Nü xiaojing 女孝經

Dec 31, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Nü xiaojing 女孝經 "Book of a girl's filial piety" is a Confucian treatise written by the Tang-period 唐 (618-907) writer Miss Zheng 鄭氏. The dates of her life are not known.

She was the wife of a high official of Xianbei 鮮卑 origin called Houmochen Miao 侯莫陳邈. Her niece became the consort of Prince Yong 永王, and for her instruction, Miss Zheng wrote a book, similar to Ban Zhao 班昭 (c. 45-c. 117 CE), who had written the book Nüjie 女誡 for her daughters during the Han period 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE).

The Nü xiaojing is first mentioned during the Song period 宋 (960-1279), but it is known that a painter from the early 10th century, Shi Ke 石恪, had created a series of 8 paintings depicting female comportment, according to the book Nü xiaojing.

The book imitates the structure of the Confucian Classic Xiaojing 孝經 "Classic of Filial Piety", while the content is so similar to Ban Zhao's Nüjie that some scholars attributed authorship to the Han period writer. The words are, through a stylistic device, put into the mouth of Ban Zhao. Miss Zheng thus transfers responsibility – and honour – on a venerated teacher of the past. The book is divided into 18 chapters.

In her preface Miss Zheng says that filial piety alone is not sufficient. A woman must also possess kindness, a feeling for the appropriate, etiquette, wisdom, and trust (the five Confucian moralities, wuchang 五常).

The text is included in the encyclopaedia Gujin tushu jicheng 古今圖書集成 (section Jiafan dian 家範典). It is also included in the series Xu baichuan xuehai 續百川學海, Xiao shisan jing 小十三經, Gezhi congshu 格致叢書, Jindai mishu 津逮秘書, and Ershier zi quanshu 廿二子全書. There is furthermore a print of the Dongting Liangtang Studio 東聼兩堂, and the collection Nü'er shuji bazhong 女兒書輯八種.

Table 1. Contents of the Nü xiaojing 女孝經
開宗明義 Kaizong mingyi Opening the theme and clarifying its importance
后妃 Houfei Empresses and consorts
夫人 Furen The husband
邦君 Bangjun The lord of a state
庶人 Shuren Common people
事舅姑 Shi jiugu Serving the parents-in-law
三才 Sancai The three talents
孝治 Xiaozhi Filial management
賢明 Xianming Wisdom and competence
紀德行 Ji dexing Notifiction on moral conduct
五刑 Wuxing The five punishments
廣要道 Guang yaodao Spreading importance
廣守信 Guang shouxin Spreading trust
廣揚名 Guang yangming Spreading a good name
諫澤 Jianze Admonishing
貽教 Yijiao Handing down education
母儀 Muyi Maternal obligations
舉惡 Ju'e About evils
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