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Polyandry and Wife-Selling In Qing Dynasty ChinaSurvival Strategies and Judicial Interventions$
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Matthew H. Sommer

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780520287037

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520287037.001.0001

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Negotiations between Men over Wife Sales

Negotiations between Men over Wife Sales

(p.179) 6 Negotiations between Men over Wife Sales
Polyandry and Wife-Selling In Qing Dynasty China

Matthew H. Sommer

University of California Press

Chapter 7 explores the negotiations between men that framed wife sales, which were influenced by knowledge that such sales were prohibited. Prohibition meant that wife sales had to be regulated at the community level. Prior to a sale, negotiations focused on reassuring the prospective buyer, who feared extortion; after a sale, negotiations focused on the seller’s demand for supplementary payments, which would be accompanied by threats of filing false charges against the buyer (who, at this stage, had more to lose). The practice of supplementary payments reflected parallels between wives and land in the patriarchal imagination. Many buyers would make at least one supplementary payment, to avoid prosecution, in exchange for a “submission contract”; but such payments also reflected community sympathy for sellers as losers in wife sales.

Keywords:   extortion, supplementary payment, submission contract, land sale, wife sale, prosecution

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