|c. 18 BCE|
|列女傳 at Chinese Wikisource|
|Biographies of Exemplary Women|
|Literal meaning||arrayed biographies of women|
The Biographies of Exemplary Women (Chinese: 列女傳) is a book compiled by the Han dynasty scholar Liu Xiang c. 18 BCE. It includes 125 biographical accounts of exemplary women in ancient China, taken from early Chinese histories including Chunqiu, Zuozhuan, and the Records of the Grand Historian. The book served as a standard Confucianist textbook for the moral education of women in traditional China for two millennia.
The idealized biographies are divided into eight scrolls, including the eighth addendum from an unknown editor, as shown below.
|1||母儀傳 mǔ yí zhuàn||Matronly Models|
|2||賢明傳 xián míng zhuàn||The Worthy and Enlightened|
|3||仁智傳 rén zhì zhuàn||The Benevolent and Wise|
|4||貞順傳 zhēn shùn zhuàn||The Chaste and Obedient|
|5||節義傳 jié yì zhuàn||The Principled and Righteous|
|6||辯通傳 biàn tōng zhuàn||The Accomplished Speakers|
|7||孽嬖傳 niè bì zhuàn||Depraved Favorites|
|8||續列女傳 xù liè nǚ zhuàn||Supplemental Biographies|
This book follows the lièzhuàn (列傳 "arrayed biographies") biographical format established by the Chinese historian Sima Qian. The word liènǚ (列女 "famous women in history") is sometimes understood as liènǚ (烈女 "women martyrs"), which Neo-Confucianists used to mean a "woman who commits suicide after her husband's death rather than remarry; [a] woman who dies defending her honor."
The online Chinese Text Initiative at the University of Virginia provides an e-text edition of the Lienü Zhuan, including both digitized Chinese content and images of a Song dynasty woodblock edition with illustrations by Gu Kaizhi (c. 344-405 CE) of the Jin dynasty.
By Huangfu Mi: