Red Brush

p. 9 terms










plucking rhyme

p. 13 early woman-authored texts

Praecepts for My Daughters (Nu:-jie by Ban Z^ao, c. 48-c. 118 Chr.E.)

Classic of Filiality for Women (Nu: Xiao-jin)

Analects for Women (Nu: Lun-yu)

p. 14 contrast between behavior advocated in state-sponsored texts and actual behavior (which in much freer than suggested in the state-sponsored texts), as described by Ge Hon in his Master Who Embraceth Simplicity (Bao-pu-zi)

according the Rites (a state-sponsored text)

actual behavior

"a man and a woman should not see each other before the matchmakers have reached an agreement; they should not sit next to each other; they should not ask questions of each other ... . They are not allowed to hand objects to each other without an intermediary. When sister return home after getting married, their brothers should not sit together with them on the same mat. ... When seeing someone off or greeting someone, a woman should not go beyond the gates of her house; when she travels outside of the home, she must cover and hide her face." {cf. [Muslim] h.ijab Ďveilí for women when outside of the home}

women : "They ... form friendships here, there, and everywhere, and together they go and visit each other. When they go to visit relatives, they start out under the starry skies by the light of torches. ... All along the road they crack jokes ... . {cf. Canterbury Tales} ... They climb up to high places, where they can look out over the river ..., and they travel even beyond the borders of their home district in order to attend weddings and funerals. They pen up their carriages and lift the curtains. ... songs to strings are performed while traveling ."

{because Ge-hon was publishing his own text, he had perforce (in order to satisfy government censors) to praetend in it to disapprove of the womenís actual behavior; a fact which the translators apparently overlook}


pp. 132-196 Chapter 3 : "Ladies, Nuns, and Courtesans"

p. 156-157 Ni-zi (ĎLittle Nuní, 491-505 Chr.E.)

p. 156

"Nizi, the virgin daughter of Jiang Bi, who ... served as an Erudite of the national Academy ..., ... would sometimes close her eyes and sit in meditation, and then begin producing these sutras by reciting them. Sometimes she would say she had ascended to Heaven, and other times she would say that a deity had taught them to her."

p. 157

One of these sutra-s was "the Sutra of the Marvelous Sound of the Lionís Roar (Miaoyin [misspelled] shizi hou jing)."

p. 157 book written through praeternatural knowledge of foreign language

"in the final reign period Established Peace [196-219] of the Han dynasty, the wife of a woman surnamed Ding from Jining suddenly ... found herself able to speak in a foreign tongue. She also ... wrote a book in a foreign script."

pp. 159-160 Wei Hua-cun (252-334 Chr.E.)

p. 159

"Wei Huacun was born in 252, and was the daughter of Wei Shu ..., who was one of the top officials of the Jin dynasty. ... Once, after undergoing a three-month period of austerities, she was visited by a host of immortals who revealed numerous new scriptures to her."

p. 160

After her death, she "continued to roam the earth for a few more years, until finally she joined the entourage of the Queen Mother of the West, the matriarch of all female immortals said to reside in the paradisiacal gardens atop Mt. Kunlun."

pp. 160-161 Daoist nun Yu-z^en

"princess Yuzhen, a daughter of Emperor Ruizong (r. 710-712) and a sister of Emperor Xuanzong (r. 712-756). In 734 she composed the Classic of Soaring and Flying Spirits (Lingfei jing), a description of how to visualize and then summon the immortal jade maidens of the cyclical ding characters for the purpose of subjugating ghosts and demons."

pp. 161-163 Daoist nun Wan Fa-jin

p. 161

"The biography of Wang Fajin ... in the Comprehensive Records of the Reign Period Great Peace (Taiping guangji)" : "Wang Fajin was a native of Linjin in Jianzhou. ... she lived on pine nuts and avoided grains, and from time to time received visions. At that time Sichuan was beset with famine. ... One day three youths clad in green suddenly descended into Fajinís courtyard and said to her : "... the God on High has ordered us to escort you to the Capital on High, where you will be entrusted with a mission." Before she knew what was happening, she had soared into the sky, and had quickly come to the dwelling place of the God on High. He ordered that

p. 162

she be given a jade cup of cloud brew, and then ... addressed her saying : "... I ordered the office of the Great Flowery Mountain ["Huashan, the sacred marchmount of the west." (fn. 16)] to lock up the gods of the five grains. ..." He then ordered a servant girl to hand her a scroll with the ritual for thanking Heaven and Earth by Means of the Pure Feast of the Numinous Treasure. He instructed her to transmit it to the world, saying : "If they do this twice a year, all the sins of their former lives will be absolved, and Father Grain and Mother Silkworm will ensure an abundant harvest. In a dragon-and-tiger year I will summon you again.""

p. 163

"There is a slightly more elaborate version of the biography of Wang Fajin in the Records of the Assembled Immortals of Yongchen (Yongchen jixianlu), by the late Tang Daoist master Du Guangting (850-930)."

"Kristofer Schipper believes that the anonymous Classic of the Grotto-God of the Greatest Eminence on the Extirpation of Demons and Support for the State of the Lord of Heaven (Taishang dongshen Taigong [misspelled] xiaomo huguo jing) is the text revealed by Wang Fajin. ... The most important reason for linking this text to Wang Fajin is ... the fact that in it the Old Master himself greatly praises the efficacy of the ritual propagated by Wang Fajin."

p. 165 "On Hearing a Zither", by "Lady Sun of Lechang ... the wife of the student Meng Changqi." (Hers was "the earliest recorded case of a woman destroying her own writings.")

"Jade fingers on the red strings : now creaking, now clear Ė

The sorrows of the Xiang sisters are too much to bear!"

[fn. 18 " "The Xiang goddesses" are Huang and Ying, the wives of the mythic sage emperor Shun. When they heard of their husbandsí death in the southern province of Hunan, they wept so piteously that their tears left permanent stains on the local bamboo. ... The goddesses of the Xiang were also credited with the invention of a zither with fifty strings."]

pp. 165-167 Wan Fa-z^i : a case of "spirit possession"

p. 166

[recorded by Dai Fu (c. 730-c. 790 Chr.E.) "in his Extensive Collection of Miracles (Guangyi ji) :] "Wang Fazhi, a girl from Tonglu, ... venerated a deity with the appearance of a young man. Sometime during the reign period Great Continuation [Dali, 766-779], this deity was suddenly heard to speak through her mouth ... . Fazhiís father questioned him asking : "Are your the words of a divinity?" The answer was : "Indeed they are! My name is Teng Chanyin ... of Wannian district in the capital ... .""

p. 167

One of her poem:s was about "the lotus boats ... to pick the flowers."

pp. 168-173 Niu Yin-z^en : a case of sleep-talking (shortly after 740 Ch.E., she "died at the age of twenty-four.")

p. 168, fn. 19

"the Chinese word for penumbra (wangliang) is also used to refer to a forest imp that has the appearance of a three-year old child, is red-black in color, and has red eyes, long ears, and beautiful hair." [p. 169 in Master Z^uan cap. 2, Shadow spoke to Paenumbra about "the scales of a snake or the wings of a cicada" {some snakes grate their scales together to produce a warning noise; and cicadas are praeeminently producers of noise}]

p. 169

[from an account by Niu Yin-z^enís father, Niu Su, "Biography of Niu Yingzhen (Niu Yingzhen zhuan)" in "Comprehensive Records of the Reign Period Great Peace of 978" :] one night while she was sleeping, Yin-z^en "suddenly began to recite all thirty scrolls of the Annals of Spring and Autumn [Chunqiu] ... . She did not leave out a single character and did not finish until the break of dawn. ...


She composed more than a hundred texts. Later, ... at night when she was sound asleep she would discuss text with learned gentlemen, all of whom were famous men of antiquity. They would pose each other questions in rapid succession. They might be called Wang Bi, Zheng Xuan, Wang Yan, and Lu Ji!" ["Wang Bi (226-249) is famous from his commentaries on the Changes and on the Book of the Way and Its Virtue (Daode jing). Zhen Xuan (127-200) [wrote] a commentary on the Book of Odes. Wang Yan (256-311) was renowned for his debating talents. Lu Ji (261-303) was a famous poet and critic." (pp. 169-70, fn. 22)]

p. 170

Niu Yin-z^en wrote a "Rhapsody on the Questioning of Shadow by Penumbra".

p. 172

"In the beginning, in her dreams Yingzhen would tear books apart and eat them, and after having consumed several tens of scrolls in this way, her literary

p. 173

style would always change. This occurred repeatedly ... . Her writings are entitled Lingering Fragrance."

HARVARD EAST ASIAN MONOGRAPHS, 231 = Wilt Idema & Beata Grant : The Red Brush : Writing Women of Imperial China. Cambridge (MA), 2004.