Organized Panel Session
Because of Manchu-Mongol intermarriage policies, more than 50% of princesses of the Qing dynasty married Mongolian aristocrats. Through a close analysis of their marital practices and funeral rituals, this paper argues that Qing regime consolidation significantly affected royal family identity and political status.
Specifically, early Qing princesses joined the family of their husbands (efu) in Mongolia and led a nomadic life. At death they were buried there, with their in-law family conducting the funeral rituals. With the consolidation of the regime around the mid-eighteenth century, however, princesses began to remain in Beijing even after marrying a Mongolian aristocrat. Furthermore, the royal court held a princess’s funeral ritual following royal protocols through which they emphasized her royalty. If her husband pleaded to bury her in his family cemetery, he would receive a royal reprimand for exhibiting political ambitions. Additionally, a married princess could not be buried in her natal family’s royal cemetery because that would contradict both Confucian and royal funeral rules—so was she buried in another place near Beijing. To uphold a princess’s special status, the court prevented in-law families from performing most of her funeral rites. These changes indeed enhanced her political status, but strained the relationship with her husband and resulted in an unharmonious atmosphere between the married couple.