Clothing, Food and Travel: Ming Material Culture as Reflected in Xingshi Yinyuan Zhuan
AdvisorPao Tao, Chia-lin
Committee ChairPao Tao, Chia-lin
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractXingshi Yinyuan Zhuan 醒世姻缘传 (The Story of a Marital Fate to Awaken the World) is a 100-chapter, 100,000-character Chinese magnum opus written under the pseudonymous aegis of the seventeenth-century writer Xizhou Sheng 西周生. The novel primarily concerns itself with a curious reversal of power dynamics and relations in the institution of marriage, namely henpecking. To do so, the novel weaves into its narrative, both in the personalities and the events it illustrates, great details of Ming material life. It is through this literary snapshot of material culture that this dissertation is able to investigate the practices and custom of clothing, food and travel, three of the "four major concerns of the people's livelihood", known as yishizhuxing 衣食住行 in Chinese. The project, while frequenting economic dimensions and probing the impact that Ming politics had on the ethos and social economy of the period, sheds significant, if not equal, light on folk custom, legal and religious practices and women's status, among other issues. Although this dissertation allocates one chapter to the surveying of Ming sumptuary laws and ethos as evidenced by the "guxiu incident," the struggle between the forces of conservative social hierarchy and the growing market as a feature of Ming material life is a question that runs throughout the entire composition.
Degree ProgramEast Asian Studies