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Behaving Badly in Early and Medieval China$
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N. Harry Rothschild and Leslie V. Wallace

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780824867812

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824867812.001.0001

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There Are Maggots in My Soup!

There Are Maggots in My Soup!

Medieval Accounts of Unfilial Children

Chapter:
(p.19) 1 There Are Maggots in My Soup!
Source:
Behaving Badly in Early and Medieval China
Author(s):

Keith N. Knapp

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824867812.003.0001

Medieval China generated numerous filial piety tales, yet only a few depict a child violating the dictates of xiao孝‎ (filial devotion). Nevertheless these narratives were well-known and often depicted pictorially. These tales provide us with striking testimony of the types of behavior patriarchs feared and loathed. Early medieval (220-589 CE) narratives are notable in that unfilial children are never allowed to stand alone. After they have committed an unfilial act, a filial son either corrects their mistake or punishes them. The unfiliality displayed in a tale must be contained. Sui-Tang (589-907) tales of the unfilial have a different emphasis. In these narratives, the main protagonist is the unfilial child – there is no filial son to save the day. However, Heaven steps in and supernaturally punishes the unfilial, often by means of a lightning bolt. The emphasis in these narratives betray the influence of Daoist and Buddhist ideas.

Keywords:   unfiliality (buxiao 不孝), accounts of Filial Children 孝子傳 (Xiaozi zhuan), The Twenty-four Filial Exemplars (Ershisi xiao 二十四孝), Heaven (Tian 天), iconography, Remonstration, polluted vital energy (xieqi 邪氣), karma

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