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600-1450 Document 1 (Handout 2B) The Harem and the Veil in the Abbasid Empire

Region: Middle East and North Africa Time Period: 750-1258 C.E. Source: Stearns, Peter N. Gender In World History. (London and New York: Routledge, 2000.) p. 309. The harem and the veil became the twin emblems of womens increasing subjugation to men and confinement to the home in the Abbasid era. Although the seclusion of women had been practiced by some Middle Eastern peoples since ancient times, the harem was a creation of the Abbasid court. The wives and the concubines of the Abbasid caliphs were restricted to the forbidden quarters of the imperial palace. Many of the concubines were slaves, who could win their freedom and gain power by bearing healthy sons for the rulers.Female and male slaves were prized both for their beauty and their intelligence. Some of the besteducated men and women in the Abbasid Empire were slaves. Consequently, caliphs and high officials often spent more time with their clever and talented slave concubines than with their less well-educated wives. Slave concubines and servants often had more personal liberty than freeborn wives. Slave women could go to the market, and they did not have to wear the veils and robes that were required for free women in public places. Over the centuries, the practice of veiling spread from women of the urban elite to all classes in town and country. As the stories in The Thousand and One Nights make clear, seclusion and veiling were seen as essential ways of curbing the insatiable lust that supposedly possessed all women from puberty. Because men were considered incapable of resisting the lures and temptations of women, it was deemed essential that the two be segregated except within the confines of their own families households.

600-1450 Document 2 (Handout 2C) The Quran on Womens Rights


Region: Middle East and North Africa Time Period: ca 651 C.E. Source: Stearns, Peter N. World History in Documents, A Comparative Reader. (New York: New York University Press,1998.) pp. 128-130. The prophet Muhammad devoted considerable attention to women in the Quran, the holy book of Islam held to be inspired by Allah. The strong Islamic tendency to offer rules for various human affairs is demonstrated in detailed family laws, which in turn reveal both key principles applied to women and practical features of womens lives in Islamic societies. Inheritance The men get a share of what the parents and the relatives leave behind. The women too shall get a share of what the parents and relatives leave behind. Whether it is a small or a large inheritance, (the women must get) a definite share. God decrees a will for the benefit of your children; the male gets twice the share of the female. If the inheritors are only women, more than two, they get two-thirds of what is bequeathed. If only one daughter is left, she gets one-half. O you who believe, it is not lawful for you to inherit what the women leave behind, against their will. You shall not force them to give up anything you had given them, unless they commit a proven adultery. You shall treat them nicely. If you dislike them, you may dislike something wherein God has placed a lot of good. Divorce Those who intend to estrange their wives shall wait four months (for cooling off); if they reconcile, then God is Forgiver, Most Merciful. If they go through with the divorce, then God is Hearer, Knower. The divorced women shall wait three menstruations (before marrying another man). It is not lawful for them to conceal what God has created in their wombs, if they believe in God and the Last Day. (In case of pregnancy,) the husbands wishes shall supersede the wifes wishes if he wants to remarry her. The women have rights, as well as obligations, equitably. Thus, the mens wishes prevail (in case of pregnancy). God is Almighty, Most Wise. Divorce may be retracted twice. If he divorces her for the third time, it is not lawful for him to remarry her, unless she marries another man, and he divorces her. The first husband can then remarry her, so long as they observe Gods laws. You can commit no error if you divorce the women before touching them, or before setting the dowry for them. In that case, you shall compensate them the rich as he can afford and the poor as he can afford an equitable compensation. This is a duty upon the righteous. If you divorce them before touching them, but after you had set the dowry for them, the compensation shall be half the dowry unless they voluntarily forfeit their right, or the responsible party chooses to forfeit the whole dowry. To forfeit is closer to righteousness. Do not abandon amicable relations among you. The divorcees also shall be provided for, equitably. This is a duty upon the righteous. There are mentions of female students, too, in the early madrasas (theological schools), and of women who became advanced enough to become renowned scholars. During the Fatimid reign in Egypt, the institution of higher learning, the "House of Wisdom," had rooms set aside for women. Since one of the philosophies of the Fatimids was that boys and girls should be raised as equals, it is not surprising that Queen Asma, the wife of the first Fatimid ruler of Yemen, was granted extraordinary political power. Below the elite, women were economically active as shopkeepers, artisans, and workers in the manufacture of textiles. Female singers, musicians, and dancers, mostly trained slaves, were sought to enliven the courts of the Muslim world. By the eleventh century, women followers of Sufism, (mystical Islam) were creating some new forms of mystical poetry and music, while women of wealth became lavish patrons of architecture such as mosques, teaching institutions (madrasas), and tombs. West Asia/North Africa Women in Abbasid Empire The Abbasid period is known as a time during which womens public roles became more restricted in the Muslim population (umma). With the conquest of Sasanian and Byzantine lands, Arabs incorporated ideals of cloistering females and eliminating them from political life, with many ramifications in womens daily lives. Moreover, strong patriarchal urges already ran through Arabian society, as the Quranic verses banning female infanticide testify. These verses, composed upon the death of a daughter, demonstrate the bittersweet public position of women in Abbasid society. To Abu Hassan I offer condolences. At times of disaster and catastrophe God multiplies rewards for the patient. To be patient in misery Is equivalent to giving thanks for a gift. Among the blessings of God undoubtedly Is the preservation of sons And the death of daughters.

Women in Early Islam Khadija, Muhammads first wife, was the worlds first Muslim. She embraced the belief in one sole deity and the message of the Quranic revelations in 610 CE, even before Muhammad understood himself to be a prophet of God, making her the mother of believers in the Islamic faith. Her model as an ideal wife, mother, and companion has made Khadija the most revered woman in Islamic history. Muhammads wives who survived him (after his death in 632 CE), such as Aisha and Umm Salama, became important transmitters of hadith, or traditions of the Prophet. The hadith stand, second only to the Quran, as authoritative texts for Muslims searching for answers to daily questions. Upon his death, the companions of Muhammad, including his surviving wives, compiled stories of his saying and actions to assist Muslims in understanding how to live pious lives in the model of the Prophet. Because of their unique access to him, Muhammads wives became particularly important figures in hadith transmission, solidifying their historic contribution to Islamic law. Women such as Khadija and Aisha, as well as Muhammads daughter, Fatima, became key public figures in the earliest years of Islamic history. However, within the context of Arabian society, patriarchal social structures and attitudes continued to regard women as subordinate to men in many realms of public life. For example, when Aisha challenged the fourth Caliph, Ali, for control of who would rule over the Islamic community at the Battle of the Camel in 656, the ensuing fitnaor crisis of Muslim fighting Muslim in warfareled to a tradition that women should not engage in politics. Although women continued to play supporting roles in subsequent wars, the notion that a woman could lead or advise an army was discredited after the Battle of the Camel. Women in Later Islamic Empires Nevertheless, women continued to play vital roles in political life in various Islamic empires as the centuries wore on. For instance, royal Ayyubid women in 13th century Egypt and the Levant were known as important public figures, using their wealth and position to endow schools, hospitals, and other charitable institutions. Moreover, wife of the Ayyubid sultan Salah al-Din, Shajarat al-Durr, became the cofounder of the Mamluk dynasty, albeit her reign as an independent queen was a short one. Ottoman women in the harem of the Sultan in Istanbul were also known for their political engagement. Even from within the walls of their home, the women of the Ottoman harem chose to whom the sultan would marry and with whom he would have children, maintaining the dynasty for nearly 700 years. Women also became important figures in the mystical movements of Islam, known collectively as Sufism. Indeed, one of the most important founders of Sufi thought was Rabia al-Adawiyya. This 8th-century woman from Basra is largely recognized as the first person to express the nowstandard Sufi belief in holy love. Her poems, dedicated to a mystical union with God, alongside her model as saintly person, have made her one of the most revered Sufis of history. Like al-Adawiyya, countless women in Islamic history have turned to Sufism to give them spiritual strength, as well as religious community and authority. Pilgrimages to Sufi shrines became important journeys for women, particularly those unable to afford a pilgrimage to Mecca. Women in Islamic Society However, the majority of women in the era of the great Islamic empires lived their lives predominantly in the private sphere. Within the context of Islamic faith, women are esteemed as wives and mothers, and it was as such that historical sources present most women. Moreover, as the Muslims expanded out of Arabia, conquering societies with strong patriarchal restrictions on womens movement in public, such as the Safavid Empire of Iran and the Byzantine empire of the Levant, notions of veiling and seclusion became more widespread among Muslims. Viewed as markers of high social class, these restrictions were most feasible for families that did not need womens labor or income. In some eras of Islamic history, womens positions appear quite subordinate to mens. For instance, the Abbasid period saw the disappearance of women from public records and events, as the ideal of secluding women became more fashionable for men who wanted to demonstrate their power. Concubinage and expansive harems became the rule for political leaders, and womens social value was viewed as lower than that of men by many in power. Women were largely excluded from religious authority, despite the Quranic declaration that men and women were equal in the eyes of God and the role of the female Companions in transmitting the hadith. Patriarchal values became increasingly codified in the sharia, or Islamic law, as well as in the daily life of Muslim women. Although they became less apparent in the historical record as the Islamic conquests spread, women in the Islamic empires continued to be vital members of society. Their responsibilities of bearing and raising children, providing food and clothing for their families, and instilling religious and social values within their households made them fundamental partners with men in the development of Islamic civilizations. Moreover, women in Islamic history gained strength from a legacy of strong and influential women in the founding years of their faith, as well as a tradition that, although culturally patriarchal, granted them ultimate equality in the eyes of the deity in which they believed.

Quran This Sura (or chapter) of the Quran, known as al-Nisa, or Women, details a variety of legal rights and restrictions for Muslims in the realm of marriage, inheritance, and other male-female relationships. Containing verses on polygamy, property maintenance, and child custody, it is one of the foundation chapters for the development of sharia, or Islamic law, vis--vis womens legal rights, behavior, and treatment. Source: The Noble Quran, http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/ 004.003 YUSUFALI: If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, Marry women of your choice, Two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or (a captive) that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice. PICKTHAL: And if ye fear that ye will not deal fairly by the orphans, marry of the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four; and if ye fear that ye cannot do justice (to so many) then one (only) or (the captives) that your right hands possess. Thus it is more likely that ye will not do injustice. SHAKIR: And if you fear that you cannot act equitably towards orphans, then marry such women as seem good to you, two and three and four; but if you fear that you will not do justice (between them), then (marry) only one or what your right hands possess; this is more proper, that you may not deviate from the right course. 004.004 YUSUFALI: And give the women (on marriage) their dower as a free gift; but if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, Take it and enjoy it with right good cheer. PICKTHAL: And give unto the women (whom ye marry) free gift of their marriage portions; but if they of their own accord remit unto you a part thereof, then ye are welcome to absorb it (in your wealth). SHAKIR: And give women their dowries as a free gift, but if they of themselves be pleased to give up to you a portion of it, then eat it with enjoyment and with wholesome result. 004.011 YUSUFALI: Allah (thus) directs you as regards your Children's (Inheritance): to the male, a portion equal to that of two females: if only daughters, two or more, their share is two-thirds of the inheritance; if only one, her share is a half. For parents, a sixth share of the inheritance to each, if the deceased left children; if no children, and the parents are the (only) heirs, the mother has a third; if the deceased Left brothers (or sisters) the mother has a sixth. (The distribution in all cases ('s) after the payment of legacies and debts. Ye know not whether your parents or your children are nearest to you in benefit. These are settled portions ordained by Allah; and Allah is All-knowing, Al-wise. PICKTHAL: Allah chargeth you concerning (the provision for) your children: to the male the equivalent of the portion of two females, and if there be women more than two, then theirs is two-thirds of the inheritance, and if there be one (only) then the half. And to each of his parents a sixth of the inheritance, if he have a son; and if he have no son and his parents are his heirs, then to his mother appertaineth the third; and if he have brethren, then to his mother appertaineth the sixth, after any legacy he may have bequeathed, or debt (hath been paid). Your parents and your children: Ye know not which of them is nearer unto you in usefulness. It is an injunction from Allah. Lo! Allah is Knower, Wise. SHAKIR: Allah enjoins you concerning your children: The male shall have the equal of the portion of two females; then if they are more than two females, they shall have two-thirds of what the deceased has left, and if there is one, she shall have the half; and as for his parents, each of them shall have the sixth of what he has left if he has a child, but if he has no child and (only) his two parents inherit him, then his mother shall have the third; but if he has brothers, then his mother shall have the sixth after (the payment of) a bequest he may have bequeathed or a debt; your parents and your children, you know not which of them is the nearer to you in usefulness; this is an ordinance from Allah: Surely Allah is Knowing, Wise. 004.019 YUSUFALI: O ye who believe! Ye are forbidden to inherit women against their will. Nor should ye treat them with harshness, that ye may Take away part of the dower ye have given them,-except where they have been guilty of open lewdness; on the contrary live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If ye take a dislike to them it may be that ye dislike a thing, and Allah brings about through it a great deal of good. PICKTHAL: O ye who believe! It is not lawful for you forcibly to inherit the women (of your deceased kinsmen), nor (that) ye should put constraint upon them that ye may take away a part of that which ye have given them, unless they be guilty of flagrant lewdness. But consort with them in kindness, for if ye hate them it may happen that ye hate a thing wherein Allah hath placed much good. SHAKIR: O you who believe! it is not lawful for you that you should take women as heritage against (their) will, and do not straiten them m order that you may take part of what you have given them, unless they are guilty of manifest indecency, and treat them kindly; then if you hate them, it may be that you dislike a thing while Allah has placed abundant good in it. 004.034 YUSUFALI: Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband's) absence what Allah would have them guard. As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (Next), refuse to share their beds, (And last) beat them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them Means (of annoyance): For Allah is Most High, great (above you all). PICKTHAL: Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High, Exalted, Great. SHAKIR: Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great.

600-1450 Document 3 (Handout 2D) Gender Roles and Society in Sub-Saharan Africa
Region: Sub-Saharan Africa Time Period: ca 1000 C.E. Source: Bentley, Jerry. Traditions and Encounters. (2000) pp. 442-443. Although diversity makes it difficult to speak of African society and cultural development in general terms, certain social forms and cultural patterns appeared widely throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Extended families and clans served as the main foundation of social and economic organization in small-scale agricultural societies. Communities claimed rights to land and used it in common. The villages of sub-Saharan Africa, where most of the population lived, generally consisted of several extended family groups. Male heads of families jointly governed the village and organized the work of their own groups. They allocated portions of the communal lands for their relatives to cultivate and were responsible for distributing harvests equitably among all members of their groups. Thus most villagers functioned in society first as member of a family or clan. Sex and gender relations also influenced the roles individuals played in society. Sex largely determined work roles. Men usually undertook the heavy labor of clearing land and preparing it for cultivation. Both men and women participated in the planting and harvesting of crops, and women also tended to domestic chores and took primary responsibility for child rearing. As in other societies, men largely monopolized public authority. Yet women in sub-Saharan Africa generally had more opportunities open to them than their counterparts in other lands. Women enjoyed high honor as the sources of life. On at least a few occasions, women made their ways to positions of power, and aristocratic women often influenced public affairs by virtue of their prominence within their own families. Women merchants commonly traded at markets, and they participated actively in both local and long-distance trade in Africa. Sometimes women even engaged in combat and organized all-female military units. In the areas of Africa where Islam spread, the arrival of this religion did not change the status of women as dramatically as it did in Arabia and southwest Asia. South of the Sahara early converts to Islam came mostly from the ranks of the ruling elites and the merchant classes. Because it did not become a popular faith for several centuries after its introduction, Islam did not deeply influence the customs of most Africans. Even at royal courts where Islam attracted eager converts, Muslims of sub-Saharan Africa simply did not honor the same social codes as their counterparts in Arabia, southwest Asia, and north Africa. In a few societies upperclass Muslim women in sub-Saharan Africa socialized freely with men outside their immediate families, and they continued to appear and work openly in society in ways not permitted to women in other Islamic lands. Thus Islam did relatively little to curtail the opportunities available to women or to compromise their status in sub-Saharan Africa.

600-1450 Document 4 (Handout 2E) Gender Roles and Labor in Sub-Saharan Africa
Region: Sub-Saharan Africa Time Period: ca 1000 C.E. Source: Hughes, Sarah Shaver and Brady Shaver. Women In World History, Volume 1, Readings from Prehistory to 1500. (New York: M.E. Sharpe Armonk, 1995.) pp. 191-193. Despite the rise and fall of some great empires, most of the continent was organized into smaller units of peoples who claimed common bonds of descent and language that distinguished them from neighboring peoples. Whether ancestry was traced through matrilineal or patrilineal ties, elder men usually dominated women and younger men. Older women or wives or sisters of senior men might exercise significant power. Everywhere in Africa work was divided by gender. Free and slave women were valued as workers because it was they who, more often than not, were responsible for growing food crops. The assignment of tasks varied from culture to culture. Men might weave in one place, while a neighboring people believed that only women could do this job. Building houses could be regarded as womens work in one place, as mens in another, and as a cooperative endeavor in yet another. Free individuals did not cross rigid gender boundaries within their own culture, yet slaves could be assigned to do any task regardless of gender. Women did the laborious work of grinding grains and cooking, but they also sold their surpluses in local markets. Women worked hard on their farms, in their houses, and at their market stalls. Though they were obligated to feed themselves, their children, and their husband, each wife expected to have her own space within the family compound, to control her own childrens behavior, and to keep the profits of her own work. Furthermore, West African women moved freely about their villages or cities (except for their exclusion from spaces or buildings privileged to men only), since they, unlike North African women, were not secluded.

600-1450 Document 5 (Handout 2F) Women and Household Labor in Sub-Saharan Africa
Region: Sub-Saharan Africa Time Period: ca 1000 C.E. Source: Bulliet, Richard. The Earth and Its Peoples. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. (1997) pp. 448-449 Besides child rearing, one of the most widespread female skills was food preparation. So far historians have paid little attention to the development of culinary skills, but preparing meals that were healthful and tasty required much training and practice, especially given the limited range of foods available in most places. One kitchen skill that has received greater attention is brewing, perhaps because it was the men who were the principal consumers. In many parts of Africa women commonly made beer from grains or bananas. These mildly alcoholic beverages, taken in moderation, were a nutritious source of vitamins and minerals. Socially they were an important part of male rituals of hospitality and relaxation that promoted social harmony. Womens activities were not confined to the hearth, however. Throughout tropical Africa and Asia women did much of the farm work. They also toted home heavy loads of food, firewood, and water for cooking balanced on their heads. Other common female activities included making clay pots for cooking and storage and making clothing. Marketing was a common activity among women, especially in West Africa, where they sold their agricultural surplus, pottery, and other craftwork.

Sub-Saharan Africa
WOMEN IN MEDIEVAL WEST AFRICA
The history of medieval West Africa utilizes archaeological artifacts, myths, chronicles, oral traditions, and work of Arabian and European writers. Ibn Battuta, circa 14th century, wrote about his experience in Timbuktu, the major city, that women were treated with more respect than men yet he denounced the nudity of their women and their lack of seclusion. As can be expected, caution is needed when using these Muslim sources, as from the 9th c. on Muslims attempted to conquer and convert West Africans. In the process many native customs were forgotten and many documents and artistic renderings were destroyed. Women were greatly esteemed for their importance in various roles: state founders, mothers, creators, and queens. Women were regarded as the source of life and wisdom. Leading roles in agricultural, architecture, culture, religion, economy and defense were played by women. However, with the introduction of Islam, there began a change from matrilfocal society to patriarfocal one, albeit a long process. Remnants of a matrilineal society in places could be observed until recently. In some areas women were held at a higher status than men. Changes in society that decreased womens status were: elders, chiefs, kings, & heads of big families, development of early feudal relationships, and development of towns. These are the same conditions that affected women in medieval Europe too. Marriage and family practices Prior to Muslim Jihads of the Almoravids in the 11th c. we know that polygamy was practiced, but mainly by people of high status, although it was not especially favored. Lower class men and women were monogamous. A bride price was given by the perspective bridegroom as a guarantee that betrothed women were to be respected, honored, and protected. Once women were married, they could bring complaints about their husbands to the council of elders. If the problems in the marriage were irreconcilable, and the fault rested with the husband, then the wife could divorce him and get another husband. Most marriages were arranged outside of the tribe. This exogamy meant that women could be active partners in starting their relationship. If they were in love with a specific male, then they sent him a dish of tasty food with pytto or palm wine. Premarital relations were a matter of mutual consent. It appears that love and mutual affection dominated the decision to get married. Wedding Customs (more will be added later) There were a wide variety of wedding customs. Certain areas a medicine man or magician was present at the wedding. Secret ceremonies and sacrificial rites were carried out too. Motherhood Great honor was attached to motherhood. As there was widespread belief in reincarnation, every child born was believed to be a fully or partially reincarnated form of a beloved ancestor. Mothers were considered receptacles or sources for bringing the reincarnated back to earth. The dead were enjoined to return to their communities as quickly as possible. The names of the children reflected this. Yetunde meant mother has returned again. Babatunde meant that the father has returned again. As shrines were erected in honor of mothers, then it appears the mothers place was a more honorable position than the fathers. Women and mothers were also immortalized as goddesses. Music, dancing, and poetry were all used to honor mothers. One tribe the daughters erected a personal matrilineal shrine and called it the The Mothers. There were shrines in the homes to honor their deceased mothers too. This was often a small rounded conical clay mound. This was the reward for being a good mother. Children more later Stylized wooden dolls were worn as amulets or used as statutes to protect against infertility, and to insure easy delivery, and that the child would be healthy and well-formed. Queens, princesses, court ladies In many African countries their inhabitants retain memories of famous women rulers, women warriors, co-regents and queen mothers. In Ghana according to folk tales there were many female co-regents. In one of the Ashanti states eighteen queens were reputed to have reigned between 1295 and 1740. Queen Amina 1550-1590 was the most famous. Her image is on the Nigerians government home page and currency today. Amina was probably the granddaughter of the Sarkin King Zazzau Nohir. Zazzua was one of the Hausa city-states that dominated the trans-Saharan trade after the collapse of the Songhai Empire. At the age of sixteen, Amina became the heir apparent to her mother, the ruling queen of Zazzua. When her mother died around 1566, her younger brother Karama became King. Apparently it was Aminas choice as she was the leading warrior of the Zazzua cavalry and wanted to continue that as her military achievements brought her great wealth and power. When her brother Karama died after a ten-year rule, Amina became queen. She ruled for thirty-four years, expanding Zazzua to its largest extent. This meant their territory went all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. It is now thought that Amina was instrumental in keeping England out of the gold fields of West Africa because of her military might. Queen Amina built many earthen city walls and fortifications, many of which are still standing, and known as Aminas walls. The annexation of neighboring lands was not necessarily done with warriors stationed at these sites, but forcing them to accept vassal status, so her Hausa traders would be safe. Amina also utilized eunuchs in her government as she felt they were better servants, so she encouraged men to be castrated. Amina is also credited with introducing kola nuts to the economy. They became the recognized symbol of hospitality and the universal expression of good will. Even though they contained a mild narcotic stimulant, they were acceptable to the Muslims. Thus, kola nuts were used for both medicinal and ceremonial use in West Africa. Another prominent West African queen was Queen Kufuru. The Nigerian area Hausa city-state was founded and ruled by her. Eight queens succeeded her. When Kings took over the ruling of these lands, a story about a snake was told to justify this change. Apparently, a Muslim stranger killed a sacred snake who had prevented getting water out of the only well. Thereafter it was ruled by men. Where polygamy was practiced by rulers, the chief wife had enough status that if the king tried to replace her, it was forbidden to do so. In many areas the Queen Mother was the only person who could countermand the kings orders, initiate action to remove him from the throne, preside over subsidiary courts where cases regarding women were held, and could pardon or offer sanctuary to criminals condemned by the king. It appears that these queen mothers regulated the affairs of women in the kingdom, and had official roles in society. If the mother of the king was not available then they used a relative, somewhat analogous to the British Queen Mum.

Women and Religion It appears that goddesses played prominent roles in the African creation myths, and other aspects of religious worship. While we know a lot about female deities in Yoruba, Asante, Ibo Dahomey, Mossi, and other tribes, knowledge is lacking about goddesses in Ghana, Mali, Songhay, and Kamem Bornu. Veneration of goddesses is still present today among Africans and Africans living in Europe and America. In the earliest times, African religious practices were what modern-day scholars called animism and ancestral worship. Incorporated into this was the worship of various inanimate objects, what is called today fetishism. Ancestors were visual represented as statues or masks, and the people offered prayers and sacrifices to them. Then polytheistic state religions developed and took over many aspects of the old tribal beliefs. From the ghosts of ancestors deities were developed. Gods were linked by close relations and dominated by leaders; akin to a sort of hereditary aristocracy. In some areas kings and queens were elevated into deities, who then in turn declared their ancestors gods too. Goddesses of creation, fertility and agriculture existed, and many were self begotten or self-born without any assistance from male gods. Goddesses also created the moon, sun, stars, etc. Another name for these early creation goddesses was mother killers, indicative that they not only were givers of life, but takers of life too. Some of these deities possessed both gender characteristics. These goddesses were also part of a trinity or triad. The Ibo in Nigeria constructed temples to honor their earth mother, Ala. For these people Ala was the most beloved goddess of all the deities. We find that the worship of Ala goes back as far as 3000 b.c.e. There were also some structures where she was worship with a figure of Ala with a child on her knee. This motif of mother and child was widespread in African art. Priestesses presided over the activities relating to worship of the deities in various holy places. These priestesses oversaw the dances, rituals, and processions in honor of the goddess and the fetish, where an object was worshiped that represented a deity. Some of these totems or fetishes were made of bone, feathers, horns, animal claws, stones, and living or stuffed animals. An equestrian figure of a woman was apparently designed to bring good luck to hunters. There is also evidence of secret societies of women regarding their religious practices. Compared to women all over the world, African women were most instrumental in preserving their religious traditions. Women and the Economy Women in medieval Africa contributed significantly to the economic development and growth of the various West African kingdoms. Women were leaders in the domestication of plants. These plants, roots and various herbs were utilized for consumption and medicinal use. Women also invented tools for processing foods, and used the celestial cycles for farming. Integral to the development and expansion of local and international trade were women. Timbuckto is a famous city that was started by a woman. The name means Bucktos well, and she was a woman. Women made or processed the weaving of cloth. They manufactured items from leather, did metal working, and played a leading role in the mining and production of the most important commodities in the region, namely, soap, salt, pottery, and cooking and cosmetic oils. The soap that was made by these women was of such high quality that the Portuguese prohibited its importation as too much competition with its own soap. Even enslaved women were prominent in the soap making business. The slave would be freed if she made the ruler ten cakes of soap each year as a sign of her appreciation. Women worked in the copper mines, and played two extremely important roles in the gold trade. Gold mining and trade might go back to the 5th century b.c.e. The people of Wangara mined and sold the gold under the aegis of the Ghana, Mali, and Songhai Empires. The system known as dump barter was probably initially developed by women to keep the gold location secret. It was a half days journey from the goods and gold left to pay for them, and if not enough given, then the process continued. The city of Timbuckto was the main importer and exporter city. We know that women were also artisans and singers. Women sang lullabies of their people as they went about the daily chores. Some of the songs were joyful and others were sad. This tradition of singing songs has continued up to the modern time. Women were also griots or story tellers. This oral tradition is now being researched. Women were also fisherwomen, farmers, and healers. Some women practiced their healing arts as priestesses of gods of medicine. Body and facial herbs and mixtures were used to attract men as well as used for medicinal and spiritual efficaciousness. Women would apply white clay called spiritual power to their faces. They believed that without this powder the ancestral spirits would be unable to communicate with them. Women were also teachers. They taught a variety of subjects: values, traditions, rituals, and laws. Proverbs and incantations were used to inculcate valuable lessons to people. African Art pertaining to women Clothing of many hues was worn by women. They also decorated themselves with jewelry made from a variety of resources. That much money was spent for the dying and weaving of cloth for womens garments, implies the high status women enjoyed in medieval West Africa. Conclusion There were many factors that eventually led to the decrease in womens status. As Islam spread to more people, womens important place in society was eroded. As more chiefs and kings developed, then feudal relationships occurred, and feudal society is not conducive to womens high status. Towns developed too, and as most of municipalities eventually become republican forms of government, then womens place in their political structure declines. D. T. Niane, Sundiata: An Epic of Old Mali Gender roles: Within Malinke society, men and women have very precisely defined roles. For instance, women are responsible for raising the children, providing the sauce for the standard meal, and in a farming family, tending to the livestock. Men are responsible for providing the millet used in the meal, maintaining the structure of the house, and handling relations with other families. Malinke society is polygamous, so children are identified by their mother, since many children can have the same father, but only immediate siblings have the same mother.

600-1450 Document 6 (Handout 2G) Womanly Qualifications in First Century China


Region: China Time Period: ca 1000 C.E. Source: Sherman, Dennis. World Civilizations, Sources, Images, and Interpretations, Second Edition, Vol. 1. (Boston: 1998.) pp. 162-164. Every society determines customs of behavior or rules based on the historical development of that society, its religion and social beliefs, its socioeconomic condition, and so on. China had its share of these rules- and none were more oppressive than those for women, since women were viewed as inferiors in traditional Chinese belief, in Confucian teachings, and in Buddhist belief. In the first century A.D., Chinas foremost female scholar, imperial historian, poet, and tutor of an empress, Ban Zhao, wrote out a series of Lessons that women were expected to follow. These Lessons became the traditional standard of behavior for centuries. WOMANLY QUALIFICATIONS
A woman (ought to) have four qualifications: (1) womanly virtue; (2) womanly words; (3) womanly bearing; and (4) womanly work. Now what is called womanly virtue need not be brilliant ability, exceptionally different from others. Womanly words need be neither clever in debate nor keen in conversation. Womanly appearance requires neither a pretty nor a perfect face and form. Womanly work need not be work done more skillfully than that of others. To guard carefully her chastity; to control circumspectly her behavior; in every motion to exhibit modesty; and to model each act on the best usage, this is womanly virtue. To choose her words with care; to avoid vulgar language; to speak at appropriate times; and not to weary others (with much conversation), may be called the characteristics of womanly words. To wash and scrub filth away; to keep clothes and ornaments fresh and clean; to wash the head and bathe the body regularly, and to keep the person free from disgraceful filth, may be called the characteristics of womanly bearing. With whole-hearted devotion to sew and to weave; to love not gossip and silly laughter; in cleanliness and order (to prepare) the wine and food for serving guests, may be called the characteristics of womanly work. These four qualifications characterize the greatest virtue of a woman. No woman can afford to be without them. In fact they are very easy to possess if a woman only treasure them in her heart. The ancients had a saying: Is Love afar off? If I desire love, then love is at hand! So can it be said of these qualifications.

Women in Japan
The Heian era in Japan, (950-1050) in contrast to China's Sung, was a peaceful time during which the arts and the cult of beauty flourished. We know little of the daily life of the average woman; most were peasants whom the aristocracy considered to be less than animals. Women of privilege, however, were a highly educated lot who from their dark, protected rooms wrote stories, diaries, poems, and letters which revealed their innermost thoughts and the refinement of their lives. They wrote in Japanese since they were forbidden to use Chinese, the official language. Thus their writings, more than those of men, were widely circulated and could be read out loud to groups of listeners. Ritual was important in the refined world of the elite, including the wearing of correct clothing. Of equal importance was the ability of men and women to converse in a learned manner. Often they communicated by exchanging poems. Both were judged on the depth of their knowledge, the speed in which they could respond in animated conversation, and their skill in calligraphy. One of the Heian period's most famous writers is Murasaki Shikibu, author of what is considered the world's first novel.

600-1450 Document 7 (Handout 2H) Womens Legal Rights in Tang and Song China
Region: China Time Period: 618-1279 C.E. Source: Stearns, Peter N. Gender In World History. (London and New York: Routledge, 2000.) pp. 441-442. Tang and Song law allowed divorce by mutual consent of both husband and wife. There were also laws prohibiting a husband from setting aside his wife if her parents were dead or if he had been poor when they were married and later became rich. Evidence of the independence and legal rights enjoyed by a small minority of women in the Tang-Song Era is all but overwhelmed by the worsening condition of Chinese women in general. The assertion of male dominance was especially pronounced in the thinking of the neo-Confucian philosophers, who became a major force in the later Song period. The neo-Confucians stressed the womans role as homemaker and mother, particularly as the bearer of sons to continue the patrilineal family line. Like their counterparts in India, widows were discouraged from remarrying. The neo-Confucians attacked the Buddhists for promoting career alternatives for women, such as scholarship and the monastic life. They drafted laws that favored men in inheritance, divorce, and familial interaction. They also excluded women from the sort of education that would allow them to enter the civil service and rise to positions of political power. No practice better exemplifies the degree to which women in Chinese civilization were constricted and subordinated as dramatically as footbinding. By the later Song era upper-class men had developed a preference for small feet for women. This preference later spread to lower-class groups, including the peasantry. In response to male demands, on which the successful negotiation of a young womans marriage contract might hinge, mothers began to bind the feet of their daughters as early as age 5 or 6. The young girls toes were turned under and bound with silk, which was wound more tightly as she grew. Bound feet were a constant source of pain for the rest of a womans life, and they greatly limited her mobility by making it very difficult to walk even short distances. Limited mobility made it easier for husbands to confine their wives to the family compound. It also meant that women could not engage in occupations except ones that could be pursued within the family compound, such as textile production. For this reason, the lower classes, whose households often depended on womens labor in the fields, markets, or homes of the wealthy to make ends meet, were slow to adopt the practice. But once it was in fashion among the scholar-gentry and other elite classes, footbinding became vital to winning a husband. Because a good marriage for their daughters was the primary goal of Chinese mothers, the practice was unquestioningly passed from one generation of women to the next. Footbinding epitomized the extent to which elite womens possibilities for self-fulfillment had been constricted by the later Song period.

600-1450 Document 8 (Handout 2I) Gender and Labor Roles in Song China
Region: China Time Period: 960-1279 C.E. Source: Bray, Francesca. Technology and Gender, Fabrics of Power in Late Imperial China. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.) pp. 5, 206, 237. To the Song the social contract between state and people was embodied in a fiscal regime based on the working couple, in which husband and wife contributed equally- he in grain and she in cloth- to the upkeep of the state. All women, even noblewomen, worked in the production of textiles. In the course of the late imperial period, however, the textile sector became increasingly commercialized and specialized; new forms of organization of production meant that common womens work in textiles was marginalized, while upper-class women abandoned spinning and weaving for embroidery. The scope and value of womens work in textiles was affected by a series of factors starting in the Song. Not all were unfavorable, at least initially. Sericulture and silk weaving spread to new areas, so that a larger number of women became involved in the production of high-value textiles. The canonical expression men till and women weave expressed a relationship of complimentarily rather than of subordination between husband and wife, at least at the level of work. The complex changes in the textile industry that took place between the Song and the Qing, however, by and large displaced women as weavers; women were deskilled, and their contribution to textile production was devalued, marginalized, or subsumed within male-headed household production. What might the meanings and consequences of such changes have been? It seems as if the changes in the Chinese textile industry I have described, and the consequent shifts in womens economic contribution to the household, must have contributed to an alteration in conceptions of gender roles. Farm work in China was represented as a male activity. Womens real involvement in work in the fields was extremely limited compared with most of sub-Saharan Africa, where farming is womens work, and also with neighboring regions such as Southeast Asia or Japan, where tasks like transplanting rice or harvesting were often construed as mainly female. When a member of the male elite in imperial China noticed women working in the field he saw it as unnatural, a symbol of profound social and moral disorder. So although women did in reality participate in all kinds of fieldwork, from picking cotton to plucking tea to harvesting grain, written and visual representations of farming generally masked this role. It is often asserted that Chinese women were physically unable to work outside the house because of their bound feet, but in fact foot binding restricted mobility much less than we imagine and did not prevent women form participating at least occasionally in almost every kind of field work except wet-rice cultivation. At this time women remained free of the severe practices of the later Sung period when the strict moral code imposed by the Neo-Confucianists (re-interpreters of ancient Confucian beliefs) created negative beliefs about women that resulted in female infanticide, footbinding, denial of widow remarry, and the seclusion of women. With the Sung period's increased wealth and trade, new possibilities opened for women, especially in the cities. Women worked in weaving and silk-making industries; they owned tea shops, seafood stores, and drug and candy stores. The Sung also produced some of the strongest heroines China has ever known - military warriors who led small armies into battle and writers who became well known in spite of the widely held belief that "a woman without learning has virtue." One writer, Li Ch'ing-Chao, became the most famous female poet in Chinese history.

600-1450 Document 9 (Handout 2J) Women in China and Central Asia: The Mongol Empire
Region: China and Central Asia Time Period: ca 1206-1294 C.E. Source: Stearns, Peter N. Gender In World History. (London and New York: Routledge, 2000.) pp. 491-492. Mongol women remained aloof from Chinese culture- at least Chinese culture in its Confucian guise. They refused to adopt the practice of foot binding, which so limited the activities of Chinese women. They retained their rights to property and control within the household as well as the freedom to move about the town and countryside. No more striking evidence of their independence can be found than contemporary accounts of Mongol women riding to the hunt, both with their husbands and at the head of their own hunting parties. The daughter of one of Kubilais cousins went to war, and she refused to marry until one of her many suitors was able to throw her in a wrestling match. The persisting influence of Mongol women after the Mongols settled down in China is exemplified by Chabi, the wife of Kubilai Khan. She was one of Kubilais most important confidants on political and diplomatic matters, and she promoted Buddhist interests in the highest circles of government. Chabi played a critical role in fostering policies aimed at reconciling the majority ethnic Chinese population of the empire to Mongol rule. She convinced Kubilai that the harsh treatment of the survivors of the defeated Song imperial family would only anger the peoples of north China and make them more difficult to rule. On another occasion, she demonstrated that she shared Kubilais respect for Chinese culture by frustrating a plan to turn cultivated lands near the capital into pasturelands for the Mongols ponies. Thus, the imperial couple was a good match of astute political skills and cosmopolitanism; tempered by respect for their own traditions and a determination to preserve those they found the most valuable. The Mongol era was too brief and the number of influential Mongol women far too small to reverse the trends that for centuries had been lowering the position of women in Chinese society. As neo-Confucianism gained ground under Kubilais successors, the arguments for confining women multiplied. Ultimately, even women of the Mongol ruling class saw their freedom and power reduced. William of Rubruck : Journey to the Land of the Tartars And the dress of the girls differs not from the costume of the men, except that it is somewhat longer. But on the day following her marriage, (a woman) shaves the front half of her head, and puts on a tunic as wide as a nun's gown, but everyway larger and longer, open before, and tied on the right side. For in this the Tartars differ from the Turks; the Turks tie their gowns on the left, the Tartars always on the right. Furthermore they have a head-dress, which they call bocca, made of bark, or such other light material as they can find, and it is big and as much as two hands can span around, and is a cubit and more high, and square like the capital of a column. This bocca they cover with costly silk stuff, and it is hollow inside, and on top of the capital, or the square on it, they put a tuft of quills or light canes also a cubit or more in length. And this tuft they ornament at the top with peacock feathers, and round the edge (of the top) with feathers from the mallard's tail, and also with precious stones. The wealthy ladies wear such an ornament on their heads, and fasten it down tightly with an amess [J: a fur hood], for which there is an opening in the top for that purpose, and inside they stuff their hair, gathering it together on the back of the tops of their heads in a kind of knot, and putting it in the bocca, which they afterwards tie down tightly under the chin. So it is that when several ladies are riding together, and one sees them from afar, they look like soldiers, helmets on head and lances erect. For this bocca looks like a helmet, and the tuft above it is like a lance. And all the women sit their horses astraddle like men. And they tie their gowns with a piece of blue silk stuff at the waist and they wrap another band at the breasts, and tie a piece of white stuff below the eyes which hangs down to the breast. And the women there are wonderfully [J: astonishingly] fat, and she who has the least nose is held the most beautiful. They disfigure themselves horribly by painting their faces. They never lie down in bed when having their children. It is the duty of the women to drive the carts, get the dwellings on and off them, milk the cows, make butter and gruit, and to dress and sew skins, which they do with a thread made of tendons. They divide the tendons into fine shreds, and then twist them into one long thread. They also sew the boots, the socks and the clothing. They never wash clothes, for they say that God would be angered thereat, and that it would thunder if they hung them up to dry. They will even beat those they find washing them [J: they thrash anyone doing laundry and confiscate it]. Thunder they fear extraordinarily; and when it thunders they will turn out of their dwellings all strangers, wrap themselves in black felt, and thus hide themselves till it has passed away. Furthermore, they never wash their bowls, but when the meat is cooked they rinse out the dish in which they are about to put it with some of the boiling broth from the kettle, which they pour back into it. They also make the felt and cover the houses.

600-1450 Document 10 (Handout 2K) Gender and Indigenous Labor Systems in the Americas: The Montagnais
Region: Americas Time Period: ca 1630s C.E. Source: Hughes, Sarah Shaver and Brady Shaver. Women In World History, Volume 2. (New York: M.E. Sharpe Armonk, 1995.) pp. 90-91. Reports, journals, and travel accounts from New France furnish us with a large, if biased, portrait .of native communities.Prominent in this profile is the sexual division that permeated all aspects of the native peoples world.Each sex played an integral yet autonomous role in the social and productive unit. Males and females had complementary functions that seldom overlapped, though they might be overlooked temporarily when necessary, as during a spouses illness. As Paul Le Jeune, (Jesuit) superior of the reopened missions, noted of the Montagnais in 1632, The women know what they are to do, and the men also; and one never meddles with the work of the other. The men make the frames of their canoes, and the women sew the bark with willow withes or similar wood.Men go hunting, and kill the animals; and the women go after them, skin them, and clean the hides. Menfocused on the bushTheir primary productive role was hunting large game and furbearers such as moose, caribou, bear, beaver, and deer. Women usually worked apart from men, either within the communal unit or in groups, and the communal nature of their work allowed them regular contact with one another. They fished and hunted small game, such as rabbit, marten, and birds, in the vicinity of the camp, providing a good portion of the daily diet.The women of all groups also controlled the distribution of meat; once the men reported a kill, it became the womens property to butcher and process as they saw fit.(Father) Paul Le Jeune described this exchange with amazement: Men leave the arrangement of the household to the women, without interfering with them; they cut, and decide, and give away (meat) as they please, without making the husband angry.. Women were responsible for processing hides- scraping, stretching, and rubbing them with brains or grease- to be used as furs or made into shirts, leggings, parkas, moccasins, and other items of clothing.Men then received these items in exchange for the meat they provided. Women also controlled the assignment of living space and the selection of campsites. This system recognized the autonomy of men and women by emphasizing their different needs and concerns. The division was not disruptive, however, countered as it was by the complementarity of social and productive activities. Instead, the different aspects of female and male combined in a vital symmetry upon which the communitys survival depended.

600-1450 Document 11 (Handout 2L) Women and Economic Roles in the Aztec Empire
Region: Americas Time Period: ca mid 1500s C.E. Source: Hughes, Sarah Shaver and Brady Shaver. Women in World History, Volume 1, Readings from Prehistory to 1500. (New York: M.E. Sharpe Armonk, 1995.) pp. 230-231. The midwife aptly described the domestic drudgery of Aztec women. Grinding dried kernels of corn (maize) on a stone metate into smooth flour for tortillas was time-consuming and hard physical labor. Keeping an adequate supply of water for the household involved the womens making trips to local springs or aqueducts while carrying heavy containers. But Aztec women were not forced into seclusion in their homes, nor did they work only there. Women traders dominated the market places of Tenochtitlan and its surrounding villages. As a part of the marriage ceremony, the new bride was given five valuable cotton capes. The capes were her starting capital for market trading. Women owned the numerous food stalls whose income was their property. Some specialized in a commodity such as fish or salt, although these women probably were the retail outlet for their families businesses. In some of these families, women manufactured the product, dyeing feathers, spinning rabbit fur into thread, or embroidering. Women invested in the merchant caravans that traveled not only to villages within the Aztec empire but outside it as well. Successful female merchants developed a network of feasting partners and dependents, for Aztecs enjoyed feasts and gave them for economic, political, and social reasons. These women were free to use their wealth for personal satisfaction or to endow their children (property and inheritance rights). Aztecs admired a woman described as robust, very tough, and middle-aged, with sons and daughters, who was a skilled spinner, weaver, and seamstress, as well as an excellent cook. With their love of feasting, sometimes for days, preparer of good food was high praise for a talent valued by the whole community. And since weaving was a sacred art, a person called a skilled weaver had high status. To make sure that children were prepared to be warriors and wives, all children attended schools. There were two different types of schools. One was primarily for aristocratic children to train then to be priestesses or priests, from which high officials were chosen, and one was for commoners. Commoners went to the local House of Youth, where successful warriors trained the boys for war, but the sources are silent on what the girls studied. Certainly they learned the ritual songs and dances that they practiced jointly with the boys, and some may have learned spinning and weaving, the most prestigious arts practiced by women. The girls were carefully chaperoned until they were married.

600-1450 Document 12 (Handout 2M) Gender and Definitions of Behavior in the Aztec Empire
Region: Americas Time Period: ca mid 1500s C.E. Source: Hughes, Sarah Shaver and Brady Shaver. Women in World History, Volume 1. Readings from Prehistory to 1500 (New York: M.E. Sharpe, Armonk, 1995.) pp. 231. In the mid16th century, Bernardino de Sahagun, a Spanish missionary, prepared an extraordinary encyclopedia of Aztec culture. His purpose was to gather information to learn the customs and beliefs of the Indians and their language in order to better convert them. Sahagun used numerous Indian informants to tell him about the days before the European arrival, and so, even though this work dates from the post conquest era, it contains much useful information about earlier Aztec life. In the following excerpts, the proper behavior for different roles of both women and men in Aztec society are described by the Aztecs themselves. The Mature Common Woman The good mature woman is candid. She is resolute, firm of heart, constant- not to be dismayed; brave like a man; vigorous, resolute, persevering- not one to falter. She is long-suffering; she accepts reprimands calmly- endures things like a man. She becomes firm- takes courage. She is intent. She gives of herself. She goes in humility. She exerts herself. The bad woman is thin, tottering, weak- an inconstant companion, unfriendly. She annoys others, chagrins them, shames, oppresses one. She becomes impatient; she loses hope, becomes embarrassedchagrined. Evil is her life; she lives in shame. The Weaver of Designs She concerns herself with using thread, works with thread. The good weaver of designs is skilled- a maker of varicolored capes, an outliner of designs, a blender of colors, a joiner of pieces, a matcher of pieces, a person of good memory. She does things dexterously. She weaves designs. She selects. She weaves tightly. She forms borders. She forms the neck. The bad weaver of designs is untrained- silly, foolish, unobservant, unskilled of hand, ignorant, stupid. She tangles the thread, she harms her work- she spoils it. The Physician The physician is a knower of herbs, of roots, of trees, of stones; she is experienced in these. She is one who conducts examinations; she is a woman of experience, of trust, of professional skill: a counselor. The good physician is a restorer, a provider of health, a relaxer- one who makes people feel well. She cures people; she provides them health; she lances them; she bleeds them.pierces them with an obsidian lancet.

Women's role in America


II.1 General Native American women traditionally belonged to a culture that gave them respect and where they had power, autonomy and equality. Native societies in the past were not based on a hierarchical system and there were few important divisions between men and women. The work of the two genders often differed but there was no value of one over the other. Native women of the past were respected and valued for their contribution to the survival of their families. Their knowledge of plants, their ability to cure and preserve food and their opinion in political matters was all valued. Native American women in general had an important role in the society, as they gave birth to children, educated the children, and provided food for the family. Also, there were some matrilineal societies in this region, such as the Iroquois. In such societies, women had a position in the governmental, civil, and religious offices. II.2 Women's Role in Society Some common duties that women in North America had were cleaning and maintaining the living quarters, nursing children, gathering plants for food, pounding corn, extracting oil from acorns and nuts, cooking, sewing, packing, and unpacking camps. They were also responsible for producing certain crafts such as brewing dyes, making pottery, and weaving items (including cloth, baskets, and mats). In some areas, women were influential in tribal councils and cast the deciding vote for war or peace. For instance, in the Cherokee society, were women were considered equal to men, women could become "Beloved Women", who voiced and voted in General Council, lead the Woman's Council, prepared and served the ceremonial Black Drink, the duty of ambassador of peace negotiator, and sometimes saved the life of a prisoner already condemned to execution. Also, the Cheyenne women had an important role in the deciding to go to war or not. III. Women's Role in Mayan Civilization III.1 General In the contemporary Maya society of Zinacantan, Mexico, it is said that "man produces the raw materials, and women transforms them into objects of use and consumption." This complementary gender role may be equally applied to the gender role in ancient Maya. Most of the roles women of ancient Maya society are inferred only from the elaborate burial sites containing steles, vases, and other burials. It seems that women in the Maya society, like any other civilization, had every day role in taking care of the household. They raised animals within the household, prepared food for the family, and weaved to make cloths. Along with the roles in every day activities, women played an important part in religion. As girls, they were trained and taught how to keep the domestic religious shrines. They associated in ritual practice of religion. In addition, there is evidence that some elite women took part in politics. III.2 Women's Role in Society In everyday life, within the household, women played an essential role. Firstly, they were mothers, raising children. Also, it was their job to prepare food for the family. In fact, in that Maya society depended on deer meat, it was the women's job to make sure that there was abundant supply of deer. Sometimes, these deer lived in the household, raised by women for men to kill. Not only that, women weaved textiles, which was an important aspect in Maya society. It is not known whether all women wove textiles, but all the textiles made were produced by them. Craft and fiber evidence from the buried city of Ceren - buried by volcanic ash in 600 C.E.- show that womens textile work was not only a mundane task that had specific household purposes, but had its position in the market. Women in the Maya society had a role in creating something valuable for someone outside of their homes. Also, some women in the Maya society seem to have participated in politics and religion. Researchers working in Guatemala have discovered a 2 meter high limestone monument that depicts a woman of authority in ancient Maya culture. This portrait could be either a ruler or a mythical goddess. Reese-Taylor, from La Trobe University in Australia states that, "The stele may date from the late 4th century AD, making it as much as 200 years older than previously discovered monuments depicting powerful Mayan women. We have images of queens, who ruled singly and with their husbands and sons, depicted on stelae later in Maya history beginning in the early 6th century AD. But this stele is completely unique in style and likely dates to the 4th century AD. It's unique in that it shows a woman in a really early period in Maya history, a period when the city states were being founded and dynasties were being instituted." This shows that women played important roles in the phase when Maya states were established.

IV. Women's Role in Aztec Civilization IV.1 General The Aztec society was a patriarchy, a male dominated society. Thus, women in this society were considered subordinate of men. As a result, women had little chance to take part in government and religious activities. However, in daily life, people had clear division of roles between men and women. While men worked in the fields and fought in wars or took the job of his father and became traders, women stayed at home and put their efforts in domestic duties like childbearing, weaving, and cooking. In fact, the women in this society were educated for these activities from young ages. Aztec girls were taught at home the skills necessary for marriage; they began spinning at four and cooking at twelve. However, housework was not the only role of the women. Aztec women not only helped in weaving textiles and taking care of the home but also included themselves in the work force, working as merchants, traders, scribes, courtesans, healers, and midwives. IV.2 Women's Role in Society As mentioned before, women in the Aztec society played an essential role in maintaining the household. They learned the skill to be a good house keeper; acquiring abilities concerning childbearing, weaving and cooking. However, they also had a place apart from the everyday house work. For instance, they could be merchants that organize and administer expedition for trade, although it is not known whether they could themselves go on the trip. Also, women of the common people in this society were open to some opportunities regarding trade: they could sell what they made in the marketplace to strangers, and gain some advantages as a result. They provided food, cloth, and other items for the market. It is said that women in the Aztec society even held places as official referees to resolve disputes that arose in the marketplace. Not only that, some women were skilled healers and diviners. Documents from the Spanish accounts indicate that the women healers were more highly skilled than contemporary Spanish doctors. IV.3 Dona Marina (Malinche) Dona Marina was a woman of the Aztec Empire in the 16th century who played an active and powerful role in the Spanish conquest of Mexico as an interpreter and an advisor. Most of what is reported about her early life comes through the reports of Cortes' "official" biographer, Francisco Lopez de Gomara, seems far too romantic to be entirely credible, but there is no evidence to the contrary. Although she was not a literary "Pre-Columbian" woman, in that the cultural division before and the after the conquest of the Europeans is not discrete, by looking at the role of Dona Marina, one can get an idea of the role of women in Pre-Columbian America. Marina was born into a noble family. However, when Marina's father died, her mother gave her away or sold her into slavery. Marina traveled in captivity from her native Nahuatl-speaking region to the Maya-speaking areas of Yucatan, where she learned different languages. When Hernan Cortes came to this region, people decided not to fight them and instead give food, cloth, gold, and slaves, including 20 women. Marina was one of these women slaves. With her ability to interpret with great efficiency, she earned Cortes' confidence, became his secretary, and then his mistress, bearing him a son. She facilitated communication between Cortes and various Native American leaders, often actively encouraging negotiations over bloodshed. In other words, Marina saved thousands of lives by enabling negotiations. Dona Marina had an important role as an interpreter, secretary, mistress, and mother of the first "Mexican." By looking at how much a woman could do in this society, we can conclude that women's position in these societies were quiet high, compared to other areas. In a way, Marina's case implies that if a woman had the ability needed in the society, there was a way for her to play an important role in it. V. Women's Role in Inca Civilization V.1 General Women's role in the Inca differed from that of European women at the time in that European women existed only for the benefit of men. In the Inca society, women had much different roles from men, but these roles were considered as complementary to those of men and a necessary part of the society. In fact, women played an essential role in the Inca society. Their primary role was to raise and take care of children, but also took charge of many household duties, including cooking, weaving cloth, working in the fields, and spinning. Before the conquest, the household was an autonomous socio-economic unit, indicating that there was much freedom for the people, including women. One evidence is the skeletal analysis of this period, which shows that women in this period consumed food in similar quality and quantity as men. This can be interpreted as women having equal participation in community and domestic life. In addition, women in Inca civilization played a large role in religion, controlling the cults of goddesses. However, after the conquest, womens social position was lower than that of mens,

for the state began to exclude women from its rituals. V.2 Women's Role in Society Women in Inca society was not expected to work for government projects, or perform mit'a, which was a requirement for every man in the society. However, this does not mean that women did not play a role in working for the government. In fact, women were to weave one piece of clothing every year to put in the government storehouses. Also, in some cases, they followed their husband on his mit'a, where they cooked, carried heavy burdens, and helped him with many other things. In everyday life, women's main job included taking care of the children, cooking, housekeeping, and weaving cloth. But along with these tasks, women participated in the field work together with men, especially during the sowing and the harvest season. When planting man punched holes into which women scatters corn seeds, for these people believed that women ensured successful crop. And during the harvest, women carried bundles of stalks, cut by men, to be stacked to dry. Furthermore, women made flour through grounding corn and potatoes, and cloth by spinning and weaving cotton or wool. V.3 The Chosen Women Chosen Women in the Inca society, otherwise called Acllacunas, were identified as the Virgin of the Sun, and had important economic and cultural roles. They formed a special class in the society and lived in temple convents under a vow of chastity. They lived apart from their families and communities, and their duties included the preparation of ritual food, the maintenance of a sacred fire, and the weaving of garments for the emperor and for ritual use. Inca officials selected girls of 10-years of age with great talent and physical beauty to become Acllacunas. They were kept in the temples, which they were not allowed to leave for six or seven years. During these years, these girls received formal education from mamaconas, who are chosen women themselves. The girls learned not only to weave skillfully the clothing worn by the nobles as well as the beautiful robes and elaborate hangings used on state occasions, they were also taught the preparation of special foods and chichi, a beverage used in religious ceremonials. When the girls completed the training and reached about 16 years of age, they were divided in to classes based on their degree of beauty and served the state in different ways. The most beautiful and highly born became concubines of the Inca Emperor. Some of the girls that suited the most approximated the Inca ideal of perfection were selected to be sacrificed in honor of the sun, while some interned for life in one of the convents where they acted as temple attendants and became mamaconas. Others became wives of nobles or military captains. However, majority of Chosen Women served as weavers and food producers in Inca provincial centers, as they were thought to do so. They provided the textiles of llama and alpaca cloth, which was an essential part of Inca life. Because the Incas used these textiles as payment of the army or as gifts for nobles and local leaders in conquered areas, Chosen Womens roles in the society were crucial. Additionally, the Chosen Women prepared food and chichi for people performing mit'a. The social status of the Chosen women was great, and they enjoyed some advantages in the society. For instance, they did not to perform hard labor in the fields, and enjoyed a steady supply of food and clothing, with whole estates dedicated to their needs. However, they were denied the support of their families as well as the opportunity to participate in daily social life. Those who married could not select their spouse and those who did not marry lived secluded from the rest of society, in a state of perpetual chastity. The Incas posted guards at the most important of the separate compounds, and did not permit entry to outsiders. The Inca state guarded and trained the Chosen Women so carefully because they played an essential part in maintaining the cohesiveness of the society.

600-1450 Document 13 (Handout 2N) Gender and Labor Roles in Medieval England and France
Region: Europe Time Period: ca mid 1200s C.E. Source: Bentley, Jerry H. and Herbert F. Ziegler Traditions and Encounters. (Boston: McGraw Hill, 2000) pp. 392, 463-464. Male serfs typically worked three days a week in the fields of their lords and provided additional labor services during planting and harvesting seasons, while women churned butter, made cheese, brewed beer, spun thread, wove cloth, or sewed clothes for the lords and their families. Some women also kept sheep and cattle, and their obligations to lords included products from their herds. Women who lived in the countryside continued to perform the same kinds of tasks that their ancestors tended to in the early Middle Ages: household chores, weaving, and the care of domestic animals. But medieval towns and cities offered fresh opportunities for women as well as for men. In the patriarchal society of medieval Europe, few routes to public authority were open to women, but in the larger towns and cities women worked alongside men as butchers, brewers, bakers, candle makers, fishmongers, shoemakers, gem smiths, innkeepers, launderers, money chargers, merchants, and occasionally as physicians and pharmacists. Women dominated some occupations, particularly those involving textiles and decorative arts, such as sewing, spinning, weaving, and the making of hats, wigs, and fur garments. Most guilds admitted women into their ranks, and some guilds had exclusively female memberships. In thirteenth-century Paris, for example, there were approximately one hundred guilds. Six of them admitted only women, but another eighty included women as well as men among their members. The increasing prominence of women in European society illustrates the significance of towns and cities as agents of social change in medieval Europe.

Europe: Book of the City of Ladies


Christine de Pizan (Christine insisted that women must be educated. These two facts alone make Christine
revolutionary. Her attitude was profoundly feminist in that it involved a complete dedication to the betterment of women's lives and to the alleviation of their suffering)

600-1450 Document 14 (Handout 2P) Womens Occupational Opportunities in Medieval France


Region: Europe Time Period: ca mid 1200s C.E. Source: Hughes, Sarah Shaver and Brady Shaver. Women in World History, Volume 1, Readings from Prehistory to 1500. (New York: M.E. Sharpe Armonk, 1995.) In 1292, women appear in 172 occupations. Women are thus represented in a large number of trades in all the principal economic sectors. As drapers, moneychangers, jewelers, and mercers, they appear among the richest professions. There are even women moneyers, or mint workers. They are copyists and artists. There are women tavern keepers, firewood dealers, and even masons, shoemakers, girdle makers, millers, smiths, shield makers and archers. A lady juggler and dancer are present among the taxpayers of 1292. Very few occupations seem to have been composed exclusively of males. Those, which involved either distant travel or heavy hauling- such as the occupations of sailors and porters-, appear without women. Women were also excluded from some licensed professions such as those of notary and lawyer. Although women show a wide distribution across the occupations, they also show a marked tendency to specialize in particular trades. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of household servants (197) were female. Most household servants were probably young girls newly immigrated from the countryside. Women were important in the preparation and sale of food. There are five women friers, five millers, five sellers of milk, four soup makers, four sellers of oil, three brewers, three sellers of cheese, two wine dealers, and several types of bakers. In the taille (list) of 1292. Somewhat surprisingly, professional cooks were usually men- 11 out of 12 in 1313. Women were also very prominent in the care of the sick and the prescription of medicine. There are eight lady doctors and two ventrieres, or midwives, at Paris in 1292. Three other women with the title of mestresse (mistress) may have been doctors. Barbers too performed medical services, such as bloodletting or the setting of bones; thirteen were women in both 1292 and 1313. The many nurses in the tax lists were all female. Spice dealers were also pharmacists; two were women in 1292 and two again in 1313. Finally, women administered the womens bathhouses at Paris, which adult males were not supposed to enter. Notable among the industries that employed women in significant numbers were the sale of wax and candle making. An industry that women dominated was the making of silk cloth. The raw silk had to be imported, chiefly by Lombard and Jewish merchants, from southern Europe, but women almost exclusively were engaged in producing the silk fabric. As the chief spinners and weavers of silk, women were very visible in the making of luxury fabrics and clothes. They embroidered cloths and made lace, purses, pillowcases and altar cloths, and ribbons, coifs, and hats. Gold thread was often used in embroidery, and this probably explains the appearance of women goldsmiths. Women were visible too in the production of another fabric: linen.

600-1450 Document 15 (Handout 2Q) Womens Educational Opportunities in Medieval England and France
Region: Europe Time Period: ca 1200-1400 C.E. Source: Power, Eileen. Medieval Women. (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1995.) p. 78. It is a safe guess that the education of women of the upper classes and better bourgeoisie in the later Middle Ages comprised at least reading and writing; no such guess can be made of the education of lower classes. About the latter it is very difficult to say anything at all, except that women of humble rank had a better chance of an education in the town than in the country. We have seen that the technical education of apprenticeship was open to women in towns. Occasionally, they may have got even more than that in the urban elementary schools. Among the humbler townsfolk of East Anglia prosecuted as Lollards in the fifteenth century only a few women were indicted for reading English translations of the Bible. On the other hand it is certain that the overwhelming majority of peasant women or general domestic servants received no education at all. They might be instructed in the rudiments of religion by a parish priest, but it is unlikely that they could read themselves. They were doubtless as illiterate as Jeanne dArc, most famous of peasant girls, who knew neither a nor b, or as Billons old mother, for whom he wrote the most touching of all his Ballades pour prier nostre Dame. A poor old woman am I, who know nothing. I never learned letters. In my parish church I see Paradise painted with harps and lutes, and hell where the damned are roasted. The one affrights, the other fills me with joy and delight. The poor womans Bible was her parish church.

600-1450 Document 16 (Handout 2R) Women, and Family Labor Roles in Europe
Region: Europe Time Period: ca 1300-1450 C.E. Source: Stearns, Peter N. Gender in World History. (London and New York: Routledge, 2000.) pp.392-393. The increasing complexity of medieval social and economic life may have had one final effect, which is familiar from patterns in other agricultural societies: new limits on the conditions of women. Womens work remained vital in most families. The Christian emphasis on the equality of all souls and the practical importance of womens monastic groups in providing an alternative to marriage continued to have distinctive effects on womens lives in Western society. In some respects, women in the West had higher status than their sisters under Islam: They were less segregated in religious services (although they could not lead them) and were less confined to the household. Still, womens voice in the family may have declined in the Middle Ages. Urban women often played important roles in local commerce and even operated some craft guilds, but they found themselves increasingly hemmed in by male-dominated organizations. By the late Middle Ages, as a literature arose that stressed womens roles as the assistants and comforters to men, Patriarchal structures seemed to be taking deeper root. Womeninworldhistory.com In this disruptive time the idea of chivalry toward women didn't exist. The killing of innocent women, as well as children and the elderly, commonly occurred in any town or castle that dared to resist an attack. In war or peace, anyone could be maimed or killed at the whim of those in power. In general women were not held in high esteem and had few rights. Women were felt to be untrustworthy and more easily seduced by the devil than were men. "No woman is good, unless she be a saint," was a common saying. As potential sinners, women were expected to watch themselves, and be ashamed of their clothes and beauty. In France, women were compelled to cover their heads; hiding the hair was a symbol of a woman's dependence upon a man's will, as well as a way to protect her from male advances. In some parts of Germany, a husband still had the right to sell his wife. The physical punishment of wives was common, even encouraged, to keep the "nagging" woman from talking back or being disobedient. Since women's intelligence was questioned, their education was limited to learning the skills needed at home. An exception was Trotula, a doctor educated in Europe's first university at Salerno, Italy. Aristocratic women had more rights than other women. In the absence of sons, daughters could inherit land and were valued for their property. As long as she was obedient, she would be protected by male family members, as was Sweden's Sigrid the Haughty. One route of power for noble women to marry an influential lord. As wife, her first duty was to bear a male heir. Otherwise she was to be her husband's helpmate, perhaps tending his wounds, overseeing his large household, and, in his absence, taking care of his land, house and family. In this warrior culture, she might also be called upon to fight to defend her lands and privileges. A noble woman also could be installed as abbess in a well endowed convent. In convents women had a chance to develop an intellectual life, as did Hroswitha of the Abbey of Gandersheim. Sometimes, rarely, a woman managed to achieve the political authority normally granted to powerful males. One was Adelaide, empress of the Ottonian empire.

Muslim Spain: Women of wealth, for example, had access to education, as required by the Quran. In Spain, where the Caliph at Cordoba had created a sophisticated relaxed society, female poets, such as Walladah bint Mustakfi, produced surprisingly personal poems. Byzantine Europe: Elite women generally lived in the seclusion of the women's quarters, covering their face when they ventured out in public. From their homes they controlled the affairs of the household, or engaged in activities such as weaving or detailed embroidery. The production of fine woolen fabrics and linen formed an important part of Byzantium's textile industry, and women working at home produced much of this vital resource. Women's embroidery work was also a sought-after export. Even when secluded from men, women of the royal families took part in many aspects of public life. Time and again empresses influenced public events and were the dominating members of their family circle. Some became powerful autocrats, like Empress Zoe who ruled in her own right. Whenever possible German rulers married Byzantine princesses to gain influence and access to the wealth of the East. Since Byzantium needed peace in the West, its rulers sometimes let their noble women marry European royalty, even though they thought Europeans uncouth and much beneath them. Empress Theophano was one princess who was allowed to marry Saxon royalty.

600-1450 Document 17 (Handout 2U) Religious Practices and Womens Rights in India
Region: India Time Period: ca 1000-1400 C.E. Source: Duiker, William J. and Jackson J. Spielvogel. World History. (California; Wadsworth Thomson Learning, 2001.) pp. 249-250. Some upper-class Hindu males were attracted to the Muslim tradition of purdah and began to keep their women in seclusion (termed locally behind the curtain) from everyday society. Hindu sources claimed that one reason for adopting the custom was to protect Hindu women from the roving eyes of foreigners. But it is likely that many Indian families adopted the practice for reasons of prestige or because they were convinced that purdah was a practical means of protecting female virtue. Adult Indian women had already begun to cover their heads with a scarf during the Gupta era. All in all, Muslim rule [during the Delhi sultanate] probably did not have a significant impact on the lives of most Indian women. Purdah was practiced more commonly among high castes than among the lower castes. Though it was probably of little consolation, sexual relations in poor and low-caste families were relatively egalitarian, as men and women worked together on press gangs or in the fields. Muslim customs apparently had little effect on the Hindu tradition of sati. In fact, in many respects Muslim women had more rights than their Hindu counterparts. They had more property rights than Hindu women and were legally permitted to divorce under certain conditions and to remarry after the death of their husband. The primary role for Indian women in general, however, was to produce children. Sons were preferred over daughters, not only because they alone could conduct ancestral rights, but also because a daughter was a financial liability. Not only did she require a costly dowry in marriage, but after the wedding she would eventually transfer her labor assets to her husbands family. Still, women shared with men a position in the Indian religion pantheon. The cult of the mother-goddess, which had originated in the Harappan era, revived during the Gupta era stronger than ever. The Hindu female deity, know as Devi, was celebrated by both men and women as the source of cosmic power, bestower of wishes, and symbol of fertility.

600-1450 Document 18
South East Asia Kirsh, A. Thomas 1976. "Kinship, Genealogical Claims, and Societal Integration in Ancient Khmer Society: An Interpretation. in Southeast Asian History and Historiography: Essays Presented to D.G.E. Hall, eds C. D. Cowan and O. W. Wolters. Ithaca: Cornell University press. (191) The proposition of an ideal "underlying matrilineality" in Khmer society, put forth by Eviline Poree Maspero (in French and unavailable), is upheld by O'Sullivan, but Kirsch gives a different perspective. *First lays out Maspero argument of "underlying matrilineality" based on the mention of matrilineal kinship in genealogies of the Angkor period *then gives O' Sullivan's response: difference between commoners and kings, but what is common is bilateral kinship. However, kings pretended to follow matrilineal kinship patterns in their written genealogies, although they did not actually do so. Matrilineality is presented as an ideal that the kings thought they should adhere to, because it was considered sacred, in comparison with the commoners bilateral patterns. (193) Kirsch discusses some background: observations of the Chinese observer Chou Ta-kuan in the 13th century (commoners): --neo-local residence at marriage, --marriage was individual choice, --bride price relatively unimportant --divorce relatively easy (194) In royal genealogies, female links are stressed. Example: Yasovarman I (889-910/12) emphasizes his mother's (Indradevi's) connections to the ancient kings of the pre-Angkorean centers of power (Vyadhapura) (195) According to Kirsch, actually, the lineage can be traced on father's side as well, but was not. His argument: (196) More on role of women: Where power waned in areas away from centers of power, women were used to counter threats posed to the king's authority--the women of his harem were brought in from these outlying areas, creating relationships--high ranking officials, priestly families, and semi-independent kings would marry their women to the deva raja. *Upon the king's death, many wives, each with many children: who has claim to the throne? --Each would call upon their kinsman linked matrilineally to support claim to kingship. Thus, genealogy stressed mother's side. (200) Moreover: priestly class, it would appear, remained celibate. Their officers were passed down to the sons of their sisters. Haines, David W. 1984. "Reflections of Kinship and Society under Vietnam's Le Dynasty" Journal of Southeast Asian Studies Vol XV No. 2 (September), 307-314. (311) patriliny in the Le Code: offenses committed against paternal side (violence, etc) dictate harsher punishments *distinct lack of equality between husbands and wives indicated in code follows Chinese legal codes in this regard: for example, wives who struck husbands faced harsh penalties, while husbands were allowed to strike wives (see also Thailand: Kirsch--this would suggest that this type of law is not necessarily "Southeast Asian). Wives were subject to punishment even for verbal complaints. *author believes that, while there may have been some external factors used to maintain some semblance of equality, the code itself states clearly a husband's super ordinate status, but goes on to say: (313) patrilineality was more restricted under the Le than in recent times. (300) Legal status of women in the Le Code: --wife brought her own property in marriage, had a say in its disposal --took it and her equal share of the joint property in marriage from the marriage when she left (widowhood or divorce) --legally administered part of her deceased husband's share --sale of family property required wife's signature --equal inheritance --great freedom of movement (305) From the Ming Dynasty: stressing the passing of land from the eldest son to the eldest son, whenever possible (306) Inference: that the role of women and her freedom was dependent upon a given ruler's wish to maintain the "flexibility" thought of as "Southeast Asian" or reduce it, in favor of "neo-Confucian" morality" and "proper" kin relations. "according to the code, women can inherit the family's ancestral lands, providing that she has no living male relatives." no officials' daughters should marry before the ruler had selected or rejected them as his concubines