Inscription on a Maids’ Right to Get Married

Tags: Qing dynasty | rubbing | stele


Main title: Inscription on a Maids’ Right to Get Married
Date: 1840
Description: This stele was set up in the 20th year of the Dao Guang reign of Qing Dynasty (1840). Because the habit of forcing maidservants to stay at home violated natural laws and social customs, gentries in Taiwan Prefecture  (Tainan City) reported to officials to set up notices to forbid this practice from happening in the future. The intendant of Taiwan and Penghu, Yao Ying, then imposed rules ordering that masters should choose spouses for their maids over 23 years of age in order to obey natural laws and to eliminate bad customs, and he also set up steles outside government buildings to enforce these rules. This stele was set up by Kavalan Subprefecture (Yilan County) Assistant Prefect Xu Ting-lun.
Collection: Rubbings of Taiwan Cultural Relics


This inscription by Intendant Yao Ying details the requirement that masters should arrange marriages for maids over 23 years of age due to the undesirable tradition that forced maids in Taiwan to stay unmarried even when they reached a marriageable age. If maids over 25 were not married, their parents had the right to reclaim them without payment. Masters who refused to marry off their maids were to be punished 80 lashes by heavy bamboo and they could not interfere with a maid’s decision to stay or leave after getting married. After Kavalan Subprefecture (Yilan County) Assistant Prefect Xu Ting-lun received Yao Ying’s orders, he set up an inscription in front of the office gates of Kavalan Subprefecture.

National Taiwan University Library, National Taiwan University

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