An Anthropological Investigation of Traditional Chinese Post-natal Care: The Interrelation between Recuperative Function and Cultural Meaning.
Ling-ling Wong(Research Assistant, Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica)
The custom of post-natal sequestration among Chinese women has been practiced continuously for millenia in all parts of China. Its significance therefore, needs no further discussion. This essay attempts an explication of the ritual content of post-natal sequestration and the recuperative significance included in its rituals.
The recuperative ritual behavior contained in the post-natal sequestration ritual includes two dimensions: foodstuffs and actions. This essay scrutinizes in depth such practices as guidelines for using foodstuffs and medicines to replenish nourishment and bodily substances lost during childbirth, and strictures against working or coming into contact with unboiled water, to demonstrate that post-natal sequestration not only has the bodily strengthening functions commonly recognized, but also implicit socio-cultural significance.
The results of this study indicate that the recuperative behavior in the ritual of post-natal sequestration includes the Chinese biological understanding of the body and medicinal concepts accrued by experience over the ages. From these medicinal concepts we can glimpse the Chinese worldview of “harmony and balance.” The reproductive significance contained in this ritual not only expresses Chinese “practical” values, but also clearly conveys the most profound hope and fear of all Chinese: whether or not their line will be continued.
post-natal sequestration、harmony、balance、 practical、reproduction、 world view