Segments in this Video

Separation—The Ascent of Woman: Introduction (03:10)


The Qingming scroll depicts Kaifeng as the emperor wanted it to be during the Song dynasty. Confucian ideals are a defining mark of Chinese civilization. Dr. Amanda Foreman reflects on their influence throughout Asia.

Me Linh, Hanoi—Vietnam (03:08)

Vietnam is home to the largest women's union in the world. In the 1st century BC, women shared equal rights and power with men. In 111 BC, the Han Dynasty imposed taxes and laws, and repealed the rights of women; the Vietnamese rebelled.

Legend of the Trung Sisters (02:41)

Vietnam was a Chinese colony for 900 years; women became second class citizens. Since 939 AD, citizens celebrate the Trung sisters as a symbol of national identity and the fight against oppression. Foreman reflects on the two versions of the Trung sisters' legend.

Luoyang, China (02:18)

The Han dynasty lasted over four centuries; Confucianism was at the heart of Chinese identity. The citizenry was divided into four categories: shi, nong, gong, and shang. Foreman explains the hierarchical relationships of the family.

"Confucian Classics" (03:48)

The "Confucian Classics" were an essential building block of societal ideals. The "Li Chi" was the key book on social roles. The "I Ching," teaches that "the harmony of the human social world is aligned with the harmony of the heavens;" Yin and Yang is a closely aligned philosophy.

Chinese Gender Relations (02:24)

Today, Yin and Yang ideals are debated across China. Foreman reflects on the power of women in the Han court.

Manuals for Female Behavior (03:13)

Han Dynasty scholars created a set of Confucian classics for women. Foreman discusses the influence of the "Liènu Zhuàn" and the"Nujiè."

Buddhism Challenges Confucianism (04:00)

Buddhism became the state religion during the Tang dynasty; it suggested that gender was ultimately meaningless. The Longmen Grottoes reveal the impact Buddhism had on Tang dynasty women. Empress Wu Zetian is the only woman to rule China in her own right.

Tang Dynasty Ruler (02:18)

An expert discusses the context of Empress Wu's rule; the empress gave herself a new name that eliminated the sexes.

Chang'An, China (02:26)

The Silk Road began in Chang'An; women escaped some of the confines of Confucianism. Foreman discusses the depiction of Tang women in art. See dancers prepare for a performance.

Empress Wu Zetian (03:33)

Experts are restoring Tang frescoes from the tomb of Empress Wu's niece. Empress Wu implemented radical changes during her rule and challenged Confucian norms. Experts discuss the "clichéd narrative" of Empress Wu's life and the fall of the Tang dynasty.

Empress Wu's Tomb (02:00)

The tomb is adorned with dragons but no eulogy. Foreman discusses the deliberate attempts to erase Empress Wu's memory and the role of women in China.

Kyoto, Japan (02:10)

In the 7th and 8th centuries, Japan implemented the Chinese imperial model; Kyoto was modeled after the Tang capital. Japanese Buddhism merged with Shinto; see the Kiyomizudera Temple.

Women during the Heian Era (04:00)

The emperor was a figurehead beholden to the clans. Heian women lived in separate compounds and developed a Japanese aesthetic that was different from Tang China. Female goodness was judged by the beauty of a woman's kimono.

Murasaki Shikibu (02:24)

Japanese identity developed its own language and literature; women communicated in Kana. Shikibu was educated in the Confucian Classics and entered the Heian court, producing "The Tale of Genji."

Ishiyamadera Temple, Otsu (02:47)

Japanese women found solace in Buddhism. The temple is a site of pilgrimage and home to several national treasures including Shikibu's oldest portrait and the Ishiyamadera scroll. Foreman examines Shikibu's ink well.

Age of Women (03:13)

Samurai took over Japan by the end of the 11th century and repealed female rights and freedoms. Buddhist nun and novelist, Jakucho Setouchi, discusses the legacy of "The Tale of Genji" and the return of Heian women to Japan.

Shanghai, China (02:25)

The Song dynasty was a period of innovation. Neo-Confucianism was the Chinese reaction to the invasion of the Jurchens and Mongols. Male scholars reasserted traditional ideas advocated in the Confucian Classics.

Extreme Beauty Ritual (02:43)

Neo-Confucianism's reassertion of the woman's place in the home became synonymous with foot binding. Foreman examines a collection of lotus shoes and explains the foot binding process.

Wang Huiyuan (03:44)

Over time, foot binding became a route to social advancement; it was officially banned in 1902. Huiyuan's mother started binding her feet when she was 6 or 7. She recalls working the fields with bound feet. Foreman reflects on the history of women in Asia.

Credits: Separation—The Ascent of Woman: A 10,000 Year Story (00:35)

Credits: Separation—The Ascent of Woman: A 10,000 Year Story

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Separation—The Ascent of Woman: A 10,000 Year Story

Part of the Series : The Ascent of Woman: A 10,000 Year Story
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Travelling to Vietnam, China and Japan, Dr. Amanda Foreman explores the role of women in Asia under the philosophy religions of Confucianism and Buddhism. Covering a period from the 1st century AD to the present day, she'll look at how Asian ideals of feminine virtue and the division of space between the female world of the home and male world of business and politics became a hallmark of Chinese identity. Part of yin and yang, they have cast a long shadow across women's lives, not just in China, but across Asia. 

Length: 60 minutes

Item#: BVL114441

ISBN: 978-1-68272-694-5

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

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