An 11th-century woodblock print of the book
|Original title||(Lièn? Zhuàn)|
|Country||Han dynasty China|
|c. 18 BCE|
The Biographies of Exemplary Women (Chinese: ; pinyin: ) 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||? ? ?||Matronly Models|
|2||? ? ?||The Worthy and Enlightened|
|3||? ? ?||The Benevolent and Wise|
|4||? ? ?||The Chaste and Obedient|
|5||? ? ?||The Principled and Righteous|
|6||? ? ?||The Accomplished Speakers|
|7||? ? ?||Depraved Favorites|
|8||? ? ? ?||Supplemental Biographies|
This book follows the lièzhuàn ( "arrayed biographies") biographical format established by the Chinese historian Sima Qian. The word lièn? ( "famous women in history") is sometimes understood as lièn? ( " 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.