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Lady Xun: The selfless spouse

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  1. Introduction
  2. The comfortable economic position of Lady Xun's family
  3. Lady Xun's new economic situation
    1. Providing without borrowing money
    2. Tthe relationship between Lady Xun and Yuanye
  4. People that influenced Lady Xun's life
  5. Her opposition to Buddhist beliefs
  6. Her Confucian ideals
    1. Steadfast dedication
    2. Benevolence
  7. Conclusion

As the daughter of an affluent father, Lady Xun was destined for a life of prosperity. However, her life was marked by benevolence, not political or economical achievements. After marrying Yuanye Zhang, her life went from extreme luxury into a married life of severe poverty. While marrying into a lower social class was not a common occurrence in the early Qing dynasty, it offers a unique perspective on what it was like to be both wealthy and impoverished in the early eighteenth century. While no known writings by Lady Xun exist, her legacy was passed down through a biography written by her cousin-in-law, Zhang Xuecheng, in ?A Biographical Sketch of My Elder Cousin's Wife, Goodwife Xun.? By looking at the biography by Xuecheng and historical accounts of the early Qing period, it is possible to understand Lady Xun through her natal family, education, economic standing, occupation, role as wife, other relations, and beliefs.

[...] Banking in Modern China: Entrepreneurs, Professional Managers, and the Development of Chinese Banks, 1897-1937 (Cambridge Modern China Series). (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007) ?Qing Dynasty Introductions.? In History of China November 2008 Mann, Susan. ?Women in the Life and Thought of Zhang Xuecheng.? In Chinese Language, Thought, and Culture: Nivision and His Critics (Critics and Their Critics Series, Vol ed. Philip J. Ivanhoe (Lasalle, Ill: Open Court Publishing Company, 1996) Gross, Susan Hill. Women in Traditional China (Women in World Cultures) (Williamsville NY: Gem Publications, 1980) Xuecheng, Biographical Sketch of My Elder Cousin's Wife, Goodwife Xun.? 220. [...]


[...] Some days Lady Xun was forced to cook the same grains multiple times until they dried out and then soften them just so they would have something to eat. While this must have been a tremendous change for her she never let it show. herself ate coarse food as if it were fine wheat.? She even had to take out credit with the butcher in order to supply her family and guests with meat. When her credit account with the butcher ran out, she was forced to pawn her dowry jewelry so she could continue feeding her family meat.[8] In addition, Lady Xun put the clothing needs of her family in front of her own, wearing the same garments for decades. [...]


[...] In addition, in order for him to go on his trip Lady Xun had to scrounge up five thousand in cash in order to pay for his expenses during the journey. When he left he told her that if worse came to worse she could sell a rare collection of books in order to support the family. Lady Xun refused to do this, however, choosing instead to pawn all of her dowry jewelry. Eventually Lady Xun nothing left to pawn and the fire in the stove had gone out. [...]

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