Ethical principles of the traditional Chinese society in the mourning apparel system: a sociological analysis of congfu

AN Wenyan1

(1.Department of Sociology, Peking University)

【Abstract】The social structure and ethical principles of the traditional Chinese society has always been the focus of scholarly attention since the introduction of sociology to modern China. Recent studies attempt to explore this issue through the analysis of complicated mourning apparel system in traditional Chinese ceremonies. This article developed this academic insight by a systematical examination of congfu. Two types of congfu are instituted according to the ethical principles of kinship (qinqin) and authority (zunzun). The two principles are essential to the everyday social life in traditional China. This study makes a substantial contribution to the diagnosis and potential remedy of the ethical crisis in contemporary China.

【Keywords】 ethical principles; congfu; mourning apparel system; qinqin; zunzun;

【DOI】

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    Footnote

    [1]. ① In recent years, there has been a call to re-study the history of Chinese sociology among the Chinese sociologists. They have realized that, we must thoroughly and systematically sort out, explore and interpret the ideological heritage left by our sociological predecessors, and explore the possible way out for modern China based on China’s experience, so as to fundamentally rebuild the core issues and spiritual temperament of Chinese sociology (Ying et al., 2006). [^Back]

    [2]. ① It is worth noting that although Wang introduced new knowledge academically, he still held the hope of restoring monarchy in his political position. The Political System of Yin and Zhou (殷周制度论) also expresses his political views. Chen pointed out, this work was to prove that the Zhou system was superior to the Yin system through his understanding of the Yin system; and on the surface, it seemed that the Zhou system was an improvement over the Yin system, but In fact, it advocated maintaining the autocratic system of Qing Dynasty by advocating the feudal system of Zhou (Chen, 1988: 630). [^Back]

    [3]. ① For example, a female should wears zicui for her parents without holding a rod after getting married, which is also applicable for sons of her husband’s own brothers. The former case is based on the principle of wearing zhancui for her father for three years, wearing zicui with a rod for her mother for one year (or zicui for three years), and lowering the class of wearing mourning apparel after getting married. The latter case is based on the “baofu” made by younger generation according to “mingfu.” [^Back]

    [4]. ② For instance, wearing mourning apparel for parents’ brothers and sisters is based on the qinqin principle. Subjects’ wearing mourning apparel for the ruler is based on the zunzun principle. Wearing mourning apparel for the mother of the younger parent’s friends is based on mingfu principle. Wearing mourning apparel for one’s heir and married daughters is based on churu principle. Wearing mourning apparel for underage relatives is based on zhangyou principle. Daughter-in-law’s wearing mourning apparel for her in-laws is based on congfu principle. [^Back]

    [5]. ① “Zunyan” refers to a construction principle of mourning apparel system. Here it means that, influenced by his father’s title, the class of a son’s mourning apparel for his relatives has to be lowered. [^Back]

    [6]. ① In the system of concubine’s wearing mourning apparel for the wife’s relatives, the concubine still has to wear mourning apparel for the wife’s relatives even though after the death of the wife. However, it is only for stressing the strict hierarchy between the wife and the concubine. Therefore, this mourning relationship cannot be regarded as shucong. [^Back]

    [7]. ② Qu (2010: 157) mentioned in Law and Society in China (中国法律与中国社会), as a non-member in the husband’s family, a concubine has no kinship with relatives in such a family and cannot acquire the status as a relative with the status of her husband like the wife. There is no kinship between her and them, nor is there any mourning apparel system. A concubine has no mourning relationship with anyone except her husband and his grandparents, parents and children. However, even so, it is not enough to prove that she has a kinship with these people, and it does not belong to the baofu principle, but is purely due to the strict status level. [^Back]

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This Article

ISSN:1002-5936

CN: 11-1100/C

Vol 33, No. 01, Pages 217-241+246

January 2018

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Article Outline

Abstract

  • 1 Patriarchy, mourning apparel and Chinese sociology
  • 2 Mourning apparel system and mourning principles
  • 3 Process of wearing mourning apparel of shucong and its social functions
  • 4 Process of wearing mourning apparel of tucong and its social functions
  • 5 Congfu and the construction of ethical emotion
  • 6 Zunzun, qinqin and the ethical crisis in modern Chinese society
  • Footnote

    References