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2 Indoctrinating Female Virtue: The Social Use of Chosŏn Woodblock Prints

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Chapter Summary

This chapter investigates the social use of illustrated woodblock prints published for didactic purposes, especially for propagating female virtues during the Chosŏn dynasty (1392–1910). The Chosŏn government promoted Confucian precepts for their reformative power from the foundation of the state, and thus propagated didactic texts illustrating Confucian morality to give practical behavioral guidance. The two most representative examples of such publications are Samgang haengsilto [Illustrated Exemplars of the Three Bonds] first published in 1434 and Oryun haengsilto [Illustrated Exemplars of the Five Relationships] published in 1797. The term samgang in Samgang haengsilto refers to the three Confucian principles that defined the ideal human relationships for all levels of society. The first chapter, “Ch’ungsin,” emphasizes loyalty between ruler and subject; the second chapter, “Hyoja,” represents the relationship between parent and child; and the third chapter, “Yŏllyŏ,” depicts the bond between husband and wife. Oryun haengsilto incorporates samgang but adds two additional relationships, between friends and between the elderly and the young. This chapter will focus on the yŏllyŏ (“eminent women”) sections of these illustrated prints and highlight how Chosŏn male rulers politically indoctrinated a specific ideology of yŏllyŏ into words and images created for women only. 



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