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Mourning, Personality, Display

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Ming Literati Commemorate Their Mothers, Sisters, and Daughters

image of NAN NÜ

This paper studies the language used by five sixteenth-century men as they mourned their mothers, sisters and daughters. I will look at writings by Wang Jiusi (1468-1551), Li Mengyang (1475-1529), Li Kaixian (1502-68), Gui Youguang (1506-71), and Xu Wei (1521-93). The basic hypothesis of this article is that there was a fairly standard mid-Ming language of mourning for women, but that these tropes could be inflected quite differently depending on the personality and era of the writers. By concluding with an examination of how Ye Shaoyuan (1589-1648) organized the commemoration of his deceased wife and daughters in the compendium Wumeng tang ji (Collected works from the Hall of the Mid-day Dream) the paper attempts to show that by the seventeenth century, the cult of qing (emotion) could have a strong effect on the tropes in which women were mourned. It also discusses the degree to which the language of mourning was also a language of display, in which the writers intended to make their own qualities known to a public of their peers.

Affiliations: 1: University of Pittsburgh


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