Three Obediences and Four Virtues

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The Three Obediences and Four Virtues (Chinese: ; pinyin: Sāncóng ) were a set of basic moral principles specifically for women in Confucianism. The two terms ("three obediences" and "four virtues") first appeared in the Book of Etiquette and Ceremonial and in the Rites of Zhou respectively.[1]

Three obediences[edit]

The three obediences for a woman were to obey:

  1. her father as a daughter (Chinese: ; pinyin: Wèijià cóng)
  2. her husband as a wife (Chinese: ; pinyin: jià cóng)
  3. her sons in widowhood (Chinese: ; pinyin: cóng)

Four virtues[edit]

The four feminine virtues were:[2]

  1. wifely virtue(Chinese: ; pinyin: )
  2. wifely speech (Chinese: ; pinyin: yán)
  3. wifely manner/appearance (Chinese: ; pinyin: róng)
  4. wifely work (Chinese: ; pinyin: gōng)



  • Kelleher, M. Theresa (2005). "San-ts'ung ssu-te". In Taylor, Rodney L.; Choy, Howard Y.F. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Confucianism. 2 N-Z. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 496.
  • Knapp, Keith (2015). "Sancong side 三从四德 (Threefold obedience and four virtues)". In Yao Xinzhong. Encyclopedia of Confucianism. Oxon: Routledge.