The Well-known female models in Beijing Scroll: Pan Chao and Fan Ji

This section explores the representations of women as intellectual and moral agents. In chapter one and chapter four,    Madam Cheng described the story about the Pan Chao and Fan Ji respectively. They, as the renowned female, were depicted in literature and paintings about women in different dynasties.

In Chapter One, “The Starting Point and Basic Principles,” Madam Cheng started a dialogue between Pan Chao and ladies. Pan Chao (ca 45-ca 115 A.D) is a female scholar of the Eastern Han period, and also know by the honorific name of Cao Dajia (曹大家) because she was considered a great authority on women’s conduct and education. The historian Pan Piao is her father and gave her a fine education. Not only Pan Chao helped to edit the History of the Former Han (Han Shu) along with her brother Pan Ku, but also she is the author of the Admonitions for Women (Nü Jie女诫) that consisted of seven chapters of instructions to women on correct conduct as wives.[1] The influential book set forth the basic precepts later adopted by the Ladies’ classic Filial Piety literature. The seven chapters of Pan Chao’s book were entitled “Humility,” “Husband and Wife,” “Respect and Compliance,” “Womanly Conduct,” “Wholehearted Devotion,” “Obedience,” and “Harmony with Younger in-laws.” Pan directed women’s thoughts and actions toward personal behavior and family relationship. Pan’s preface explains that her book was intended to instruct future generations of brides to be on proper behavior in their new roles so that they could avoid the calamities. In this illustration, Pan Chao was at leisure, and a group of well-dressed young ladies sat on cylindrical stools around a low platform. One girl had left her place to stand before the teacher and bows slightly in an attitude of respectful inquiry.

The chapter four, “Elucidating Wisdom,” contained two separate vignettes: at the right, on a terrace, a lady confronts a king with his retinue of attendants; at the left, in the distance, a carriage is driving away. The story concerned a Lady Fan, one of the consorts of King Chu Zhao. Lady Fan bravely criticized the minister blindly favored by her husband, King Chu Zhao. Her statement that she had unselfishly introduced suitable women into his palace is reflected in the number of maids attending him. The other figures appear at first glance to be men but are actually women dressed in men’s clothes. The composition separated two events that occurred at different times. In the background, the carriage hurrying off in the background was that of the envoy sent to bring Sun Shuao to court. The landscape painted in the blue and green style through which the departing carriage travels is more continuous with that of the figures.[2]

[1] Murray, Julia K. “The ‘Ladies’ Classic of Filial Piety’ and Sung Textual Illustration: Problems of Reconstruction and Artistic Context.” Ars Orientalis 18 (1988): 95-129.

[2] Murray, Julia K. Mirror of Morality: Chinese Narrative Illustration and Confucian Ideology. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2007, 40-43.

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