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6.15 Daughter of the Chief of the Treasury of Qi

The "Daughter of the Director of the Great Granary of Qi," whose given name was Tiying, was the youngest daughter of the Great Granary Director Lord Chunyu (ca. 216-150 B.C.) of the Han dynasty. Lord Chunyu had no sons but five daughters. During the reign of Emperor Wen the Filial (180-157 B.C.) Lord Chunyu was convicted of a crime and faced punishment. At this time the government still used corporal punishment. An imperial edict ordered judicial [officials] to detain Chunyu in Chang'an1. On the way to Chang'an, Chunyu cursed his daughters saying, "I have children but no sons. In times of trouble they are utterly useless!" Tiying, for her part, wept bitterly and followed her father to Chang’an. She memorialized the emperor, saying,

The memorial was submitted to the Son of Heaven, who, moved by her plea, issued the following edict:

After this incident, those who had previously been punished by drilling into the skull had their heads shaved instead, those who had been punished by having their ribs extracted were now caned, and those who had suffered having their feet cut off were now shackled. Lord Chunyu was therefore spared from this fate.

The Gentleman says: Tiying with one word inspired the sage intentions of her ruler and brought a fitting conclusion to this affair.

As the Odes says, “If your words were gentle and kind,/The people would be settled.”4

The Appraisal says, “Tiying pleaded her father’s case with great wisdom. She drew upon her convictions and submitted a memorial that was both eloquent and concise. Though they were the words of a mere girl, she inspired her sovereign to abolish corporal punishments and to save her father


1. On the term ji "detain," see Hulsewe, Remnants of Han Law, p. 74.

2. This case occurred in 167 B.C. Tiying's memorial, in various versions, is cited in the "Treatise on Punishments and Laws" (Xingfa zhi), in Hanshu 23, pp. 1098-1100, and translated in Hulsewe, Remnants of Han Law, pp. 334-335. The abrogation of punishments by mutilation is also mentioned in Shiji 10, p. ?, 105, p. ?; Hanshu4, p. ? For speculation the legal process connected with Tiying's memorial, see Osamu, Oba, "The Ordinances on Fords and Passes Excavated from Han Tomb Number 247, Zhangjiashan," in Asia Major, Third Series, Volume 14, part 2, (2001): 119-141. A note in the Wenxuan suggests that Tiying also sang two odes?

3. Mao no. 251; translation based on Legge, The Chinese Classics, vol. 4, p. 489.

4. Mao no. 254; translation based on Legge, The Chinese Classics, vol. 4, p. 500.

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