This excellent, concise overview of the status of women in China during the Sui and Tang dynasties covers the 6th through the 10th centuries CE. Following an introduction outlining this period's political history, the book examines marriage, motherhood, women’s roles in government and the economy, religion and ethics, education, and emotions. The conclusion summarizes the chapters with a supplemental discussion of women's fashions and beauty ideals. Each chapter clearly draws on the latest scholarship for its particular topic, including sources in Chinese, Japanese, and Western languages. Hinsch (Fo Guang Univ., Taiwan), an expert on sex and gender in early China, has written a highly accessible account, making this book useful for teaching. Especially engaging sections discuss the powerful Wu Zetian, the sole female emperor in Chinese history, and the tragic Yang Guifei, a palace lady unfairly blamed by generations of historians for a major rebellion. Many in China today are fascinated by tales of Tang princesses and courtesans as portrayed in film and novels. This book offers a valuable scholarly perspective on the realities of life for the entire social spectrum of Tang women. Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers through faculty.
With this extremely useful volume on women during the Tang period, Bret Hinsch adds to the overall narrative of the history of women in Chinese civilization an important segment covering a time in Chinese history when they certainly made their presence felt...Endnotes ensure that a considerable body of further sources of information is also unobtrusively made available to those using this work as a guide to further reading; the range of secondary scholarship drawn upon is gratifying indeed and includes not only the expected sources in a number of languages but in particular a large number of contributions to recent Chinese academic journals that help to illuminate many facets of the lives of Tang women scarcely touched upon in earlier times.