Experts: Women led various lifestyles in Song Dynasty
A painting shows women playing cuju, an ancient form of soccer, in the Song Dynasty. [Photo/zjol.com.cn]
Song Dynasty (960-1271) women enjoyed various lifestyles and high status in a feudal society, Zhejiang Daily reported on March 8.
Fu Boxing, a famous researcher of Song Dynasty culture and history, said women of Song Dynasty had a higher social status compared with women from other Chinese dynasties.
Many noble women even became political leaders and exerted influence on young emperors. However, their efforts were purely to maintain the reign of the dynasty as none of them tried to claim the title of empress.
Song Dynasty women also enjoyed rights to divorce, remarry, and inherit properties, according to Liang Liang, curator of Hangzhou Library.
A wife was entitled to apply for a divorce if her husband failed to support his family properly or did not return home for more than three years.
Liang explained that the prosperous social economy and clear division of labor helped raise the status of wives. Song Dynasty laws allowed wives to share the family wealth with their husbands and be eligible for inheritance.
Song Dynasty women were free to visit markets at night and take up various careers, as depicted in ancient paintings and books.
Women born in wealthy families even pursued careers in arts, literature, and sports. The works of poetesses Li Qingzhao (1084-1151) and Zhu Shuzhen are still recited today.
Women could also participate in cuju and wrestling. Female players often competed at royal courts, as emperors enjoyed watching such matches.
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