(Abstract, full length text to follow in the fullness of time.)

he Chinese tradition of male love, like the Greek, has its roots in prehistory. One of the Chinese terms for male love “the pleasures of the bitten peach” dates back to the Zhou dynasty when around 500 BCE the Duke Ling of Wei was offered a peach which Mizi Xia, his favorite, had bitten and found good. There are many tales of the passion of male nobles for each other, which at the time was considered a time-honored tradition. We have no indication whether early Chinese male love was structured along age or gender lines.

The Han dynasty (260 BCE – 220 CE) continued the tradition of open bi-sexuality, as witnessed by numerous emperors. The story of Emperor Ai and his favourite, Dong Xian, are the source of the other popular term for male love, ‘Passions of the cut sleeve.’ Dong Xian had fallen asleep across the Emperor’s sleeve. When the Emperor wanted to get up, he cut off the sleeve rather than wake his friend.

This pattern continued throughout the succeeding dynasties, with variations between times of greater tolerance and times of lesser. The relationships were often structured along age lines, though that does not seem to have been a requirement as it was with the Greek or the Japanese traditions.

In more recent times the historical and literary records are more complete, giving us a view of male love in other circles, such as among the scholars and among the common people. In the province of Fujian especially boy marriages were common. The older man would pay a bride price to the parents and take the boy to live with him for a number of years, until that one was old enough to marry.

The tradition of male love survived until the early years of this century, when it succumbed to the general Westernization of culture and morals. At this point male love is frowned upon both in Communist China as well as in Taiwan. It is considered a western import, and against traditional Chinese morals.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following form of citation:
Editorial Board, World History of Male Love, "Homosexual Traditions", Chinese Tradition of Male Love, 2000 <>




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