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Performing GriefBridal Laments in Rural China$
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Anne E. McLaren

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780824832322

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824832322.001.0001

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Imagining Jiangnan

Imagining Jiangnan

(p.21) Chapter 1 Imagining Jiangnan
Performing Grief

Anne E. McLaren

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter presents a reconstruction of the social order as expressed the laments of a woman called Pan Cailian. The bride imagines the social order as a cleavage between rich and poor, educated and uneducated, between those with property and those without, between officialdom and those with no official connections. She conjures up the domains of the niangjia (home of her mother) and the pojia (home of her mother-in-law) through sharply contrasting images of residences, furniture, food, cooking equipment, clothing, household objects, notions of education, and literacy. The niangjia is conceived as impoverished but familiar and free, whereas the pojia is perceived to be wealthy and powerful, but also harsh, restrictive, and alien. The irony of the bride's poetic grievance is that, in order to realize the dream of social mobility implicit in her movement towards the pojia, she will have to abandon the cozy but poor surroundings of her youth and enter the domain of this feared elite.

Keywords:   Chinese bridal laments, lament cycle, Pan Cailian, social order, Nanhui region, social mobility

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