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Inside the World of the EunuchA Social History of the Emperor's Servants in Qing China$
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Melissa S. Dale

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9789888455751

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888455751.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM HONG KONG SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.hongkong.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Hong Kong University Press, 2022. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in HKSO for personal use.date: 28 June 2022

Eunuch Suicide

Eunuch Suicide

Punishment, Not Compassion

Chapter:
(p.126) 7 Eunuch Suicide
Source:
Inside the World of the Eunuch
Author(s):

Melissa S. Dale

Publisher:
Hong Kong University Press
DOI:10.5790/hongkong/9789888455751.003.0008

Suicide provided eunuchs with one of the few ways in which they could determine when they would permanently exit the system. Far from a solitary act, a eunuch’s suicide posed a risk to the imperial court, his family members, and his fellow eunuchs. This examination of how the Qing dealt with eunuch suicides provides insight into palace–eunuch labor relations, the complexities of unfree status, and further evidence of eunuchs pushing the boundaries of acceptable behavior as they attempted to express a degree of agency and self-determination in their lives. Qing suicide regulations reveal that eunuchs did not have the right to leave their positions whenever they chose, especially when it involved the possibility of leaving the palace for good through suicide.

Keywords:   eunuch, suicide, exiting the eunuch system, unfree status, suicide regulations

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