Meat, Ghost, Tumor, and Goddess: The Afterlife of a Female Martyr
- CHINOPERL: Journal of Chinese Oral and Performing Literature
- University of Hawai'i Press
- Volume 40, Number 1, July 2021
- pp. 1-15
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This paper examines the literary representation of the Tang loyalist Zhang Xun's concubine in Yao Maoliang's 姚茂良 (fl. 1475) southern drama Shuangzhong ji 雙忠記 (Double Loyalty) and the extent to which this Ming didactic drama delivers concrete moral messages. Analyzing Yao's depictions of ghostly images, cannibalism, and bodily suffering in the play reveals the ambiguities of the literary representations of female martyrdom. The intentional or unintentional deviation from historical records and the depictions of the afterlife of the female martyr in Double Loyalty and biji stories ("jottings") calls the necessity of female martyrdom into question. This seemingly didactic drama and the contesting narratives of the "double loyalty" stories give voices to women and serve as a critique of female martyrdom. They offer us an alternative way to imagine the moral environment of late imperial China. This paper also adds another dimension to scholarly inquiry into double loyalty worship by including an analysis of literary texts.