This essay is about the history of concubines in China.

Essay by sassy7starA+, June 2003

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Though we may see it as wrong, concubines have been apart of the Chinese culture for centuries. Many people do not understand what the life of a concubine was like, but one can rest assure that it was not very pleasant, but considered quite normal when it first started. The history of concubines in China can be dated back to 221 BC, in which the Ch'in Dynasty shifted the Taoist culture to a Confucianist culture, and -in spite of how some may feel- has long since been accepted by the people. On the contrary, laws in China have changed, greatly affecting concubinage in China. The history of concubines in China has long been a growing issue.

A concubine was a woman that had been shifted from her own family, to another family. Chinese women were dishonored as men were acclaimed. All that a woman could aspire to was wifeliness, motherliness, and devotion and veneration to parents and family.

In Chinese culture, it was the height of embarrassment to remain single; if it took being a concubine to be somewhat respected, it was taken. Concubines were accepted less significant wives in a household. When entering the home of her master, a concubine became the servant of his mother, as well as subject to authority of his superior concubines and wife. Though the idea of concubinage sounds odd, most concubines did not see their position as out of the ordinary.

When Confucianism was accepted in China, it brought about much change. Confucius revealed an attitude towards women, which was inferior. He wrote about women and classified them as slaves or "hsaio ren." When the Ch'in Dynasty accepted Confucianism, they accepted the ideas of women being inferior. An entire set of Confucianist rules were set for concubines at this time. Confucianism could...