Chaste Widows as Entertainment and Revenants


in Sanctity and Self-Inflicted Violence in Chinese Religions, 1500-1700

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199844906
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199949564 | DOI:
Chaste Widows as Entertainment and Revenants

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This chapter explores the practices of chastity mutilation and suicide that young chaste women and widows engaged in to resist rape and remarriage. Different from other scholarly studies of these women’s self-mutilation and suicide, this chapter analyzes them on both discursive and performative levels from the broader perspective of the larger milieu of sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It argues that didactic works on female chastity mutilation and suicide were a form of entertainment but that the practices of self-inflicted violence themselves may have been a way for young chaste women to forge their agency as subjects of sanctity. Chastity mutilations were instruments of change that substantiated cultural and religious values in times of thread. Chastity suicides were occasions that transformed these women to vengeful revenants to take revenge on those who wronged them.

Keywords: chastity; mutilation; suicide; vengeful ghost; revenant; entertainment; widow; girl; fierce; passion; body; sexuality; mulian; miaoshan; altar

Chapter.  10644 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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