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“Let People See and Be Moved”: Stone Arches and the Chastity Cult in Huizhou during the High Qing Era

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This article examines the chastity cult in China during the High Qing (c.1680–1830) era. It focuses on the physical characteristics and the cultural implications of chastity arches built in Huizhou (Anhui) during the eighteenth century. Using both written texts and evidence from extant arches, this article explores how these monumental objects served as a forum through which the ideology of female fidelity was constructed and perceived by different constituents including the Manchu court, wealthy Huizhou merchants, and resident commoners. These three groups had different attitudes toward the value of these chastity arches, and thus, this study reveals a dynamic and contradictory picture of how the chastity cult was contested and negotiated in the local community of Huizhou during the late imperial period.

Affiliations: 1: University of South Carolina, Columbia


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