Imperial Marriage in the Native Chinese and Non-Han State, Han to Ming

Jennifer Holmgren

in Marriage and Inequality in Chinese Society

Published by University of California Press

Published in print April 1991 | ISBN: 9780520069305
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520910454 | DOI:
Imperial Marriage in the Native Chinese and Non-Han State, Han to Ming

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This chapter looks at the structure underlying attitudes to imperial marriage and the political role of the emperor's wife in the native Chinese and non-Han state. The first section begins by establishing the principles behind events commonly encountered in the historical narrative of the native state from Han times through to the end of the Ming dynasty (206 b.c.a.d. 1644). It shows that some conditions previously thought to be unique to one particular period (and thus probably the result of foreign influence or externally derived ideas) are easily explained without reference to the non-Han state. The second section demonstrates the variety and political ingenuity of marriage systems designed by the leaders of the conquest dynasties. The final section discusses how an analysis of the non-Han condition throws new light on the question of continuity and change in Chinese society, and then summarizes the political status of different sets of imperial kin in each of the systems described.

Keywords: imperial marriage; political role; emperor's wife; imperial kin; Chinese society

Chapter.  17794 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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