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Pipe-Smoking Elders

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Chapter Summary

Public order was nevertheless maintained by observing tradition and deferring to elders in case there was need of arbitration. Although the common law was already lost to posterity and no new formal rules were established in its place, traditional customs were naturally preserved. The two elders usually wore long robes and mandarin jackets when they dealt with any issue in the public domain. Wearing these clothes served to show off their wealth and to symbolize power and influence. They also brandished bamboo tobacco pipes, several feet long, to indicate that they were elders who ought to command the respect of others. Every day after breakfast at 10 am, having eaten their fill and having drunk rice-wine, men liked to go and sit there to share news and talk about things that made them happy or angry. They were mostly older married men.

Keywords: bamboo tobacco pipes; elders



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    Life in a Kam Village in Southwest China, 1930-1949 — Recommend this title to your library
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