Reading Gail Hershatter‘s The Gender of Memory: Rural Women and China’s Collective Past for a class this week and I was piqued by the mentions of the memorial arches (牌坊) that were erected under imperial decree for women who had stayed faithful to their long-deceased husbands. (They’re also extensively mentioned in Sex, Law, and Society in Late Imperial China, by Matthew Sommer.
I found this image on USC’s International Mission Photography Archive. The main heading reads 一門三節 yī-mén sān-jié – “one family, three chaste [widows]”. Must have been a particularly great honor in those days.
Professor Zheng showed this picture as an example of the anti-Christian (especially anti-missionary) sentiment sweeping through China in the last decade of the 19th century. I was intrigued – why had the artist chosen a pig to represent Jesus? I began searching, and found that this was part of a longer tract missionaries had translated into English as Heresy Exposed in Respectful Obedience to the Sacred Edict: A Complete Picture Gallery 謹遵聖喻皮屑全圖. (PDF here)
Though vulgar and cruel, it’s a fascinating read. As it turns out, the artist had chosen the pig as 豬 zhu was a near homophone to the 主 in 天主 Tianzhu (the Catholic word for God). Elsewhere in the tract, the painter depicted foreigners as goats, playing off of the term 洋人 yangren. It paints a picture of foreigners as organ-harvesters (a Sinitic form of blood libel, perhaps?), fornicators, and Chinese who followed their teachings as traitors and cuckolds.