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11 Ceremony and the Definition of Marriage under Republican Law

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Chapter Summary

The Book of Rites differentiated between main wife (qi) and concubine (qie) on the basis of adherence to the complex rituals associated with betrothal and wedding; any woman who was married without observing the Six Rites was considered a concubine by default. In the eyes of society, the ceremony, whether for a main wife or a concubine, was a man's opportunity to display his wealth and power. Early Republican law, which generally followed Qing practice, respected the line between the two roles. The legal distinction only became muddled when Guomindang (GMD) lawmakers made the performance of an open ceremony the sole criterion for legal recognition as marriage in the civil code. In comparison to the Daliyuan's rulings on uxorilocal marriages, the decisions in concubinage cases were based on a stricter interpretation of the legal criteria for marriage.

Keywords: Book of Rites; ceremony; concubine; Daliyuan; marriage; Qing practice; Republican Law; wife

10.1163/9789004271890_013
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