The Lake of the Flayed Child

In old China, filial piety was honoured and enforced by law to its extreme, whosoever curses father or mother is to die.

Once a woman was frightening a stubborn boy by crying, ‘Come, mandarin, come! the boy has struck his mother.’ Which cries was heard by a passing by mandarin, and he stopped his chair. The mother explained that she was talking in sport. She urged that the child was not old enough to know good and evil.

‘We will see about that, ‘ said the magistrate. ‘Bring a bowl of rice and a bowl of muck.’

The child chose the former.

‘He does know, you see. Flay him.’

It was done.

The place where this cruel incident happened was called the Lake of the Flayed Child to this day. Although some say, in Chinese, the sounds, being almost identical with those of melon seeds, those two words, and not the flayed child, may form the more correct name of the place.

Another filial lady died for her sick mother

The same official (Le Hung Chang 李鸿章) presents a supplementary petition.

According to information received from several persons, there lately lived a filial young lady named Pang Yun-chun, a native of the district of Hwae-ning in Gan-hwuy, the eldest daughter of Pang Tsëö-khe, the Prefect of King-chow. From her earliest years this young lady delighted in reading poetry, and took pleasure in listening to ancient and modern tales of filial piety, rectitude, purity, and chastity. She accompanied her mother to her father’s residence at his official post, and never left her for a moment.

In the 6th year of the present reign, the mother became seriously ill, and the daughter secretly cut off a piece of her arm and gave it to her in her medicine, whereupon the mother recovered.

During the winter of the 11th year, the mother again became ill, and the daughter gave her soup and medicine, and for more than twenty day and nights never put off her own clothes. She again cut off a piece of her flesh and gave it to her mother to cure her ; but the latter never recovered, and the daughter, fearing to wound her father, eat her meals as usual, and conducted herself as if nothing had happened.

On the one hundredth day after the death of her mother, the daughter rose early, washed herself, put aside her head ornaments, put on clean under garments, carefully binding up the wounded places on her arms, and told her father that she was going to take her brothers and sisters to worship before the coffin of her mother, which was deposited in the Kae-fŭh-sze temple. Within the precincts of this temple stands a pagoda more than 280 feet in height, and pretending that she was going to worship Buddha, this young lady told her brothers and sisters to wait for her outside. She then, with her nurse and female attendant, ascended thirteen stairs, and looking first towards the west, where her mother’s coffin lay, and then towards the south, in the direction of her father’s residence, she sorrowfully made three inclinations, and then threw herself down. Those who were below in vain rushed forward to save her. They only saw her with her cheek resting upon the ground ; and thus she passed away, with a smile upon her countenance ; being at the time only 26 years of age.

This took place on the 24th day of the first month of the present year (21st February,1873 ) In this young lady’s sleeve was found a paper containing two sentences ; one, to the effect that she threw herself down from the Pagoda of her own free will ; and the other, forbidding her relatives to change her clothes when about to place her in her coffin, and requesting them to lay her beside her mother. On opening a small casket, another written paper was discovered, in which she took leave of her father and other relatives, and stated that when her mother was dangerously ill, she burnt incense and vowed that she would accompany her mother, if she died, beneath the Earth (i.e., to Hades), and praying her father not to grieve for her.

— The petitioner prays the Emperor to grant permission to build a triumphal arch to this young lady, and His Majesty consents.

A filial daughter cut her own flesh to cure her father of sickness

Ts’een Ting-ming (錢鼎銘), Deputy Governor of Honan, petitions in reference to a dutiful daughter who cut a piece of flesh from her arm, in order to cure her father of his sickness. In the present Holy Dynasty, filial piety rules the Empire, and this doctrine originates in the female sex. The petitioner’s birth place is Tae-tsang (太倉) in the province of Këang-soo (江蘇).

In the district of Chin-yang there lived a daughter remarkable for her filial piety, whose name after her marriage, was Mrs. Wang. In the fifth year of the reign of the Emperor Hëen-fung, this young lady’s father became dangerously ill, and his filial daughter, lighting incense sticks, announced (to the gods) her desire to sacrifice her own body for her father’s sake. After this announcement, her father’s illness increasing, and his physicians being unable to cure him, this filial daughter secretly cut off a piece of flesh from her arm, and putting it into the medicine prescribed, gave it to her father who, on eating it, immediately recovered. Some time afterwards the daughter’s female attendants, perceiving the mark on her arm, questioned her as to the cause and learned from her the facts already stated. There was not a single individual of all those who heard the narrative, who was not struck with amazement.

Shortly after this, the young lady was married to a graduate of the first degree, and she faithfully discharged all the duties of married life. In the sixteenth year of the Emperor Hëen-fung (咸豐)in consequence of her excessive grief for the death of her father, she pined away and died in a year after that event; being then only 29 years of age.

The petitioner examined into the case when at home, and could not endure to conceal the facts; and he now prays the Emperor to order, as His Majesty has always done in such cases, that a triumphal arch be erected to the memory of the deceased daughter, in order to make known her filial piety.

The Emperor refers the case to the Board of Rites.

(Peking Gazette, May 21st, 1873)