Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Demonization of Empress Wu

“She killed her sister, butchered her elder brothers, murdered the ruler, poisoned her mother,” the chronicles say. But is the empress unfairly maligned?

Of all these female rulers, though, none has aroused so much controversy, or wielded such great power, as a monarch whose real achievements and character remain obscured behind layers of obloquy. Her name was Wu Zetian, and in the seventh century A.D. she became the only woman in more than 3,000 years of Chinese history to rule in her own right.

In death, as in life, then, Wu remains controversial. Even her gravesite is remarkable. When she died, she was laid to rest in an elaborate tomb in the countryside about 50 miles north of the then capital, Xi’an. It was approached via a mile-long causeway running between two low hills topped with watchtowers, known today as the “nipple hills” because Chinese tradition holds that the spot was selected because the hills reminded Gaozong of the young Wu’s breasts.

Read entire article by Mike Dash @ The Smithsonian Magazine
Women of History: Wu Chao
Ancient History Encyclopedia: Wu Zetain

Six Ancient Chinese Women

From ECNS:
Here are six talented ancient Chinese women who once impressed in their time, and still affect us in our time.

Li Qingzhao: Praised as the "No.1 talented woman", Li Qingzhao, a poet from the Song Dynasty (960-1279), was born in Shandong province.

Cai Wenji: Daughter of literatus Cai Yi of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220). Cai was good not only at poetry and calligraphy, but also mathematics, astronomy, debate and music. Her masterpieces were Hu Jia Shi Ba Pai, or Eighteen Songs of a Nomad Flute, and Bei Feng Shi, or Indignant Poems.

Ban Zhao: Ban was the first female historian in China. Her father, Ban Biao, was an historian during the Eastern Han Dynasty. She was also good at writing poems, yet only seven of her works have survived.

Shangguan Wan'er: Shangguan was famous for being given an important position by the only female emperor, Wu Zetian of the Tang Dynasty (618-907).

Su Hui: Su Hui, from the Qian Qin (351-394) was famously known for a handkerchief she made. The textile was embroidered with 841 characters that could form 7,958 poems.

Xue Tao: It is recorded that Xue Tao, a talented female entertainer during the Tang Dynasty created this colored paper to write poems. During her time, writing papers were often yellow, yet Xue changed the simple color into different shades of red or green. Later, people made similar colorful paper and named them "Xue Tao Jian".

Unique Goddess Idol Unearthed In Dinajpur

An at least 800-years-old temple has been unearthed in Dinajpur’s Kaharol that has a unique architecture and includes a unique idol, that of the Vishnu avatar Mohini.

This goddess is well-known across South and West India, but the Kaharol temple is the first of its kind discovered in the eastern subcontinent. Experts say the implications of this finding may change predominant ideas about the region’s history and traditions.

Claudine Bautze-Picron, an expert of East Indian iconography, has identified the idol recovered from the eastern part of the temple as that of Mohini, the Vishnu Avatar, he said.

“According to her this is the first stone-made Mohini idol in the eastern subcontinent, which leads us to reconsider the history of this region.”

In Hindu mythology, Mohini is the only female Avatar of the god Vishnu, who appears in the Samudra Manthan myth. The goddess is worshiped widely in South and West India.

Read entire article @ Dhaka Tribune

Queen Tin Hinan - Ancient Ancestress of the Tuaregs

Queen Tin Hinan is renowned in Tuareg history as a fourth century matriarch of great prestige – named “Mother of Us All”. Her monumental tomb was located in 1925 in the Sahara desert, but dramatic archaeological discoveries of the day, such as King Tut’s tomb, somewhat overshadowed her unveiling.

Tin Hinan, whose name literally means “she of the tents”, is regarded as the ancient ancestress of the Tuaregs. According to local legends, centuries ago Tin Hinan arrived in the Hoggar region on a milk-white camel along with her faithful servant, Takamet. They are said to have settled in the mountainous region of Algeria, and she became the first Queen of the Tuaregs.

Read entire article here @ Ancient Origins
See also: Tin Hinan @ Wikipedia and The Tuaregs @ The Bradshaw Foundation

Li Zhao - Female Pioneer of Communist China

Li Zhao is best known in China as the wife of the 1980s liberal reformer Hu Yaobang, who held the country's highest office as general secretary of the Communist Party – until being forced out. It was his death in 1989 that famously sparked the Tiananmen Square student protests.

One of the female pioneers of communist China, Li Zhao joined the revolution as a 16-year-old in 1937. After her father was killed at an anti-Japanese occupation rally, she took inspiration from the classical Chinese legend Mulan and disguised herself as a man – even shaving her head – to travel alone the long and dangerous road to Yanan.

She was laid to rest at the Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery on Friday, in an ancient hall reserved for Communism's heroes with unblemished careers. Hu hadn't been buried here. But on Friday the white floral wreaths included those from Xi and Premier Li Keqiang.

Read more here @ Stuff dot co dot nz

Medieval Mongolian Noblewoman Found In Compost Pit

Couple unearth remains of 'rich' female buried up to 1,000 years ago with her rare Chinese bronze mirror.

Natalia Filina, 31, and her husband were digging in their garden when they hit stones. In the hole they were digging as a compost pit, they found not only a skeleton but also a bronze mirror some 9.9 centimetres in diameter and 0.5cm thick. Police called in the Institute of Mongolian, Buddhist and Tibetan Studies in Ulan-Ude, and experts found additional remains. 

The medieval woman was lying in a wooden coffin made of log, covered with birch bark. The bronze mirror is believed to date to the 10th to 13th centuries, which perhaps indicates the age of the burial. Detailed tests will be carried out to determine when she lived.

Read Article from December 2015 @ The Siberian Times

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister

Before the term lesbian was even coined, there was Anne Lister – a rich landowner who enjoyed a string of scandalous same-sex affairs during the buttoned-up 1800s.

She recorded her adventures in 26 volumes of secret diaries so saucy that her fearful family kept them hidden long after her death.

Lister also encrypted the sexual detail in a mix of Greek and her own codewords — for fear of the law of the time — and only in the 1980s was this ever translated.

To refer to orgasms, she wrote the word kiss, while diary entries had Xs in the margin for how many climaxes she had that day.

Now, the story of Britain’s “first modern lesbian” will be retold in Shibden Hall, BBC1’s eight-part series written and directed by Happy Valley creator Sally Wainwright.

Read entire article by Kate Jackson here @ The Sun

Egyptian Woman Brought To Life

The face of a young Egyptian woman who lived at least 2,000-years-ago has been reconstructed from a 3D print out of her skull. The forensic techniques employed revealed surprising facts about the beautiful woman, who has been named Meritamun, meaning beloved of the god Amun.

Researchers from the University of Melbourne in Australia, in collaboration with the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, used new technologies, including CT scanning, 3D printing and well known forensic facial reconstruction. Although, the mummy is incomplete, the remains stayed wrapped throughout the process.

The head of a mummy has spent more than 90 years in the basement, which belongs to the University of Melbourne. According to the researchers, she died as a young woman between the age 18 and 25. It was determined due to the width of her mouth and the positioning of her teeth, and her nose shape and size was determined by the width of the nasal aperture. The researchers also found out that she had quite large eyes. Other parts of the body were lost due to unknown reasons.

Read entire article here @ Ancient Origins (from August 2016)

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Matilda Joslyn Gage - Forgotten 19th Century Suffragist

It’s easy to say that great strides have been made toward racial and gender equality in the last 150 years, yet one can’t help being struck by the parallel discourse surrounding human rights between then and now. Nowhere is this more evident than in the battles between women’s rights and the religious right. And nowhere is it more clear than in reviewing the works of Matilda Joslyn Gage.

From her first public speech, at age 26, in front of the 1852 National Woman’s Rights Convention in Syracuse, to her culminating thoughts in the 1893 book Woman, Church, and State, Gage used philosophy, theology, biblical studies, and science to rewrite the place of women in socio-political life throughout history.

What Gage saw was that you can’t just “get out the vote.” You have to change the mythologies. New stories need to be told, even if they are the old stories that have been forgotten.

Read entire article by Brent Plate here @ USC Annenberg - Religious Dispatches