History of concubines in China

History of concubines in China Essay Sample

Though we may see it as wrong, concubines have been apart of the Chinese culture for centuries. Many people do not understand what the life of a concubine was like, but one can rest assure that it was not very pleasant, but considered quite normal when it first started. The history of concubines in China can be dated back to 221 BC, in which the Ch’in Dynasty shifted the Taoist culture to a Confucianist culture, and -in spite of how some may feel- has long since been accepted by the people. On the contrary, laws in China have changed, greatly affecting concubinage in China. The history of concubines in China has long been a growing issue.

A concubine was a woman that had been shifted from her own family, to another family. Chinese women were dishonored as men were acclaimed. All that a woman could aspire to was wifeliness, motherliness, and devotion and veneration to parents and family. In Chinese culture, it was the height of embarrassment to remain single; if it took being a concubine to be somewhat respected, it was taken. Concubines were accepted less significant wives in a household. When entering the home of her master, a concubine became the servant of his mother, as well as subject to authority of his superior concubines and wife. Though the idea of concubinage sounds odd, most concubines did not see their position as out of the ordinary.

When Confucianism was accepted in China, it brought about much change. Confucius revealed an attitude towards women, which was inferior. He wrote about women and classified them as slaves or “hsaio ren.” When the Ch’in Dynasty accepted Confucianism, they accepted the ideas of women being inferior. An entire set of Confucianist rules were set for concubines at this time. Confucianism could not be considered a religion because it does not instill the worship of any god, it did emphasize love for humanity, and high value given to learning and to devotion to family. In addition, Concubinage became more popular in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Families began to sell their daughters in order to make money. In the eighteen hundreds, rulers began to abolish concubinage and make life more fair for everyone. From then on, concubinage became less and less common.

It is not common to hear about cases of concubines now a-days. In the United States it is considered to be bigamy. Bigamy is the criminal offense of marrying one person while still legally married to another. In the early 1900s, China began having difficulties with over population, thus in 1923; the Communist China made a single wife, single child policy. Most recently, in January of 2001, the legislature took a step of publishing a draft of arguable law to draw out public comment. The use of concubines in China and the rest of world have almost been put to an end, but there are still some places where concubinage is legal.

In conclusion, the years of concubinage in the Chinese culture have almost run out. Moreover, people of other countries who are not accustomed to the ideas view the understanding of concubines, and concubinage differently. The beginning of the idea of concubines was adapted centuries ago, and was still practiced regularly from many centuries afterwards. Until the beginning of the 1900s, concubines were still considered to be legal, but now they are outlawed. As the years go by many ideas will be accepted, and many will be thrown away, but there is no way to tell unless the idea is tried.

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