Dissertation > History, geography > Cultural Relics and Archaeology > China 's Cultural Relics and Archaeology > Dunhuang Studies

Ideal, Female and Customs

Author ChenLiPing
Tutor HaoChunWen
School Capital Normal University
Course Historical Philology
Keywords Tang and Song Dynasties Dunhuang Marriage and Family Female Ideal Custom
CLC K870.6
Type PhD thesis
Year 2007
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Based on the Dunhuang manuscripts while taking full advantage of the grottos and former research achievements, the dissertation attempts to explore the marriage and family life in Dunhuang during the Tang and Song Dynasties by focusing on coincidence and misplace of ideals and folk customs, the real situation of the female in marriage and family life.The dissertation is composed of seven parts. Part I reviews the achievements in marriage and family life in Dunhuang studies, and the problems and subjects up to explore.Part II observes the marriage concept of the Dunhuang people. After comparing the grottos and Dunhuang manuscripts, the author points out that the wedding murals were not the duplicates of real life: the Dunhuang people mixed the real life with their ideals. The real wedding ceremonies in the Dunhuang manuscripts reflected people modified and followed the customs and trends. The attitude was the visual reflection of the marriage concept in Dunhuang: root deeply in the local customs, but make innovations while inheriting the traditions.Part III examines the marriage types in Dunhuang. During the Tang and Song Dynasties, there existed in Dunhuang many types of marriage such as monogamy, monogamy with concubinage, polygamy, polygamy with concubinage. The monogamy was the main trend and was followed by nearly all the social levels in Dunhuang.Part IV explores the female in the real life by examining the big gap of age between husband and wife. The gap can be concluded into two categories: the husband is elder than wife or the wife elder than husband. The first case was resulted from polygamy or the man being married late. The second case, since the lack of historical materials, is difficult to explain. There are no uniform mode in the background of concubines, the reason and way of a man marrying concubines. And the activities and social positions of the concubines were more active and diversified than expected.Part V examines the family ethics by exploring how people naming their children and the situation of children born by unmarried parents. The names of children reflected the traditional differentiation of gender and different expectations. The children in the family, if not born by the lawful parents, can be concluded into three categories: children born out of the lawful marriage, children adopted by social family, children adopted by monk or nun. This phenomenon reflected the influence of Confucius ethics on Dunhuang people; it also reflected that people made various adaptation and reconciliation to the reality.Part VI is appendix which examines the two appellations in terms of marriage appeared in the Dunhuang manuscripts and grotto autographs: Xinfu and Ji. Since the two appellations as the feminine demonstrative prons have eveloped many new and different meanings. Therefore, the combination of "Monk and Xinfu" does not suggest that the woman is the monk’s wife; while the "Cao Yanlu Ji" inscriptions at the 61st grotto at Mogao Grotto do not mean she was the concubi(?)e of Cao Yanlu.Part VII is the conclusion. The dissertation analyses and deconstructs several phenomena of marriage and family life, holds that the coincidence and misplace of the ideal and customs is the reality of marriage concept in Dunhuang during the Tang and Song Dynasties, the traditional marriage ritual and Confucius ethics were still the criteria to the marriage and family life, and people strived to meet the requirements of these ideals. Under this pretext, people were intangibly transforming their ideals in accordance with the reality, creating a concept of marriage and family life endowed with local characteristics. The mode of marriage and family life, formed out of the merging and misplacing, had double functions-restrain and indulgence -on the female.

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