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When And How Chen Disposed Of His Robes

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Chapter Summary

There are two unresolved questions in the records that deal with Chen's actions in becoming a commoner. The first is his age, the second is the nature of the action that he took. Ch'en Kuo-tung summed up the age question as follows: The Unofficial Annals of the Final Two Reign Periods of the Ming states that Chen was 28 when he tore his cap. However, the History of the Ming, and the Songjiang Provincial Gazetteer state that he was 29 when he took his scholar's robes and burnt them. While Chen's age is one point of contention in the records, the action he took is another. That the robes were destroyed in some way seems beyond doubt, but the verbs used in the various records to describe the action vary.

Keywords: Chen Jiru; History of the Ming; scholar's robes

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