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Chinese Family and Kinship by H. D. R. Baker

By H. D. R. Baker

This is often the tale of the way one courageous scientist unlocked the secret on the middle of this so much feared of ailments. This discovery was once made in Hong Kong at first of the 20 th century, in the course of a deadly disease that threatened to decimate the island and, from there, the realm. A stressful and scary race was once run in appalling stipulations through rival scientists: Alexandre Yersin - rigorous, solitary, cerebral - and the clever Kitasaka, unscrupulous, enigmatic, careless. Spiced with anecdotes, evidence and chilling reconstructions, this research of the plague within the glossy global brings a few tense evidence to gentle.

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Even where marriage to someone of the same surname was not so seriously disapproved of, it was still the case that marriage to a girl related within that large group descended from the great-greatgrandfather was considered highly improper. On the other hand, and this is where the imbalance shows, it was perfectly possible for a man to marry his first cousin on the mother's side. Marriage to the daughter of one's father's sister (also of course a first cousin) was possible because the bride would have a different surname, but it seems to have been rare.

Throughout all this only the surname remained constant. Two significant points should be made here. The first is that the surname, being very much in the family sphere, was considered highly important. The Chinese contrived to make a great deal of sodal organization hang on the surname, as we shall see later on. And it is entirely in keeping with this that surnames were placed before personal names, SO that a Chinese name was (and is) always given in the order SMITH John Henry, and CHINESE FAMILY AND KINSHIP 30 never John Henry SMITH.

Thewhole training of a daughter by her family was aimed at fitting her to be a wife, mother and worker for another family. Many girls were subjected to foot-binding: The foot became so compressed that the woman usually hobbled about with difficulty or had to lean on a wall, cane, or another person for support. One result of this virtual crippling, especially severe among upper-class ladies, was to confine women to the boudoir. They were thus physicaHy prevented from moving about freely and unchaperoned and were rendered immune from the social disease of conjugal infidelity ...

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