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“Family building in inner quarters”: Cojugal relationship in Tang families

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image of Frontiers of History in China

Conjugal relationship has a predominant role in ancient Chinese familial life. Yet most researches on conjugal relationship have tended to focus on the arrangement of marriage, disregarding marital life after wedding. It is the general impression that matrimonial relation follows the ethics of Confucian doctrine of “the husband as principle of the wife,” or relevant code of laws like “Seven Outs,” edited according to these principles. There are three factors that contribute to marital relationship in the Tang Dynasty: ideology, ethics, and written laws. Although written laws are influenced by Confucian ideology, and hence following Confucian system of manners, on the practical level, ordinance still appears as the most reliable source to analyze familial relationships. People in the Tang Dynasty stress family status when they marry wives, yet when marrying concubines, versatility is of interest. Whereas records in official history documents and epitaphs are not entirely accountable, the complicated relationships between husband and wife, husband and concubine, and that between wife and concubine need to be further illustrated.


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