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VIRTUE AND TALENT: WOMEN AND FUSHI IN EARLY CHINA

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A study of two early historical records shows that women had a share in fushi (presenting the Odes), a social ritual and high art that is otherwise known as a preserve of the male elite. The paper retrieves the context of women's participation and analyzes the Confucian morality underlying the portrayals of the two female practitioners, both in light of the principle of sexual separation. The formulation of the relationship between female virtue and talent in these early records exemplifies the parameters of the later development of the dichotomy, and the metamorphosis of the images of the two female fushi practitioners in the first-century-BCE Lienü zhuan represents the first definitive version of the orthodox Confucian position on that issue.

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