Gender Roles and Artistic Expression: c. 600 BCE - 600 CE

AP Concept: 2.1 The Development and Codification of Religious and Cultural Traditions
Key Concepts
  • Belief systems affected gender roles
  • Artistic expressions reflected cultural developments
Gender Roles
  • While many civilizations were patriarchal, the advent of new religions sometimes allowed women to be treated equally
  • Christianity held that God loved both men and women equally, and both could ascend to heaven after death
  • Women, like men, could join holy orders, and many early converts to Christianity were women
  • While the Roman Empire was patriarchal, as Christianity spread it encouraged women to have more of an active role in religion
  • Buddhism held that women could achieve nirvana with proper practice, and they were allowed to live as nuns in holy orders
  • Both China and India, where Buddhism spread, had patriarchal societies where women were meant to marry well and were legally subject to their fathers and husbands
  • Buddhism allowed women an alternative to rigid lifestyles
  • Islam allowed women to keep their dowries and held that women and men were equal in the eyes of Allah
  • Most belief systems, however, cemented pre-existing patriarchal social structures
  • Hinduism and the caste system, which kept women in a legally subordinate status, were interdependent, and women were not allowed to read the sacred Veda prayers
  • Confucianism's key relationships asserted that women must always be subordinate to their husbands
  • Greece, which had a complex polytheistic religion, had a patriarchal society where
  • women were subordinate to their fathers, husbands, and sons
    • Women could participate in religious cults, however
Artistic Expression
  • Belief systems often influenced art and architecture
  • Greece emphasized human life and beauty in all aspects of its culture, including sophisticated sculptures of the human body that reflected a growing knowledge of anatomy
  • Ashoka, a Maurya emperor (India, c. 260 BCE), converted to Buddhism and built monasteries and stupas for worship in his empire
  • The development of more advanced metallurgy and craft technologies allowed civilizations to create more sophisticated pieces
  • Early Shang period saw the development of sophisticated bronze containers and weapons, perhaps using the "lost-wax" method, which allowed further experimentation and refinement

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States and Empires: c. 600 BCE - 600 CE