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Negotiating Daily Life in Traditional China: How Ordinary People Used Contracts, 600-1400

Negotiating Daily Life in Traditional China: How Ordinary People Used Contracts, 600-1400

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Key Metrics

  • Valerie Hansen
  • Yale University Press
  • Paperback
  • 9780300209112
  • 9.21 X 6.14 X 0.67 inches
  • 1.02 pounds
  • History > Asia - China
  • English
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Book Description

This intriguing book explores how ordinary people in traditional China used contracts to facilitate the transactions of their daily lives, as they bought, sold, rented, or borrowed land, livestock, people, or money. In the process it illuminates specific everyday concerns during China's medieval transformation.

Valerie Hansen translates and analyzes surviving contracts and also draws on tales of the supernatural, rare legal sources, plays, language texts, and other anecdotal evidence to describe how contracts were actually used. She explains that the educated wrote their own contracts, whereas the illiterate paid scribes to draft them and read them aloud. The contracts reveal much about everyday life: problems with inflation that resulted from the introduction of the first paper money in the world; the persistence of women's rights to own and sell land at a time when their lives were becoming more constricted; and the litigiousness of families, which were complicated products of remarriages, adoptions, and divorces. The Chinese even armed their dead with contracts asserting ownership of their grave plots, and Hansen provides details of an underworld court system in which the dead could sue and be sued. Illustrations and maps enrich a book that will be fascinating for anyone interested in Chinese life and society.

Negotiating Daily Life in Traditional China: How Ordinary People Used Contracts, 600-1400

Author Bio

Valerie Hansen teaches Chinese and world history at Yale, where she is professor of history. In the course of writing The Year 1000, she traveled to some twenty different countries and was a visiting scholar at Xiamen University in China, University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, and the Collège de France in Paris.

Having lived in China for six plus years, Valerie has visited at least 300 temples, climbed the Great Wall multiple times (once during a lightning storm), and posed next to the Terracotta Warriors eleven times. (All this in the company of her husband and three children)

Her books include The Silk Road: A New History, The Open Empire: A History of China to 1800, Negotiating Daily Life in Traditional China, Changing Gods in Medieval China, 1127-1279, and Voyages in World History (co-authored with Kenneth R. Curtis).

 

Source: ValerieHansen.com

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