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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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The Hollow Cotton Spool

The Hollow Cotton Spool

Women’s Labour in Nanhui

(p.53) Chapter 3 The Hollow Cotton Spool
Performing Grief

Anne E. McLaren

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter considers the influence of women's labor in the Nanhui lament repertoire. It discusses labor and foot binding, the decline of the household cotton industry, the status of women within their families and communities, and women's labor in laments. It was the mother's duty to teach the daughter not only domestic work but how to produce spun cotton and woven bolts of cloth for sale at the market or for domestic use. The young girl learnt to understand the value of her growing skills in the imagistic repertoire transmitted by women across generations. In her laments, the bride and her mother sang constantly of spinning cotton, weaving cloth, and brushing cotton. Engagement in cotton production was also the essential context in which bridal laments were learnt. It was during her participation in labor such as cotton weeding with other women in the fields, spinning, and weaving, that a young girl learnt how to lament.

Keywords:   Chinese bridal laments, Nanhui region, cotton industry, women's labor, foot binding

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