The Social Significance of Nudity in Early China

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This article draws attention to a small group of tales involving nudity - purposeful nudity, for the most part - in early China. These include the stories of Mao Chiao, Mi Heng, Liu Ling, the wife of Meng Tzu, and some examples of the use of nudity in defensive siege warfare. The object of the paper is to draw some general conclusions concerning Chinese attitudes toward the expressive significance of the body and to reveal, definitively, why the expression ta ma-de (“his mother’s…”) occupies its privileged position as the national curse-word of China.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: November 1, 1999

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