Women's History

The Female-headed Households in Zoumalou Slips of Wu Dynasty

Zhao ChongLiang
Sichuan Institute of Cultural Relics & Archaeology
Journal of Shijiazhuang University 2016-5

Abstract:The term of "female-headed households" was earliest used in Zoumalou bamboo slips according to the present findings. If the male head of a household died and left without a legitimate male inheritor, there was no choice but to make a woman as the head, which should be the main reason for the appearance of female-headed households. It was likely that, at that time, the marriage did exist in which the husband was married into and lived with his bride's home, yet the man was not justified to be the head of the households, so the wife or other qualified woman had to be the head, which is another reason for the female-headed households' appearance. The female-headed households are indeed commonly seen in the slips, but it is illogical to conclude that the female-headed households shared a much high proportion in the whole household register. Most of the female-headed households had a low status. Therefore, they could not as well as should not pay the tax. From the field tenancy condition of the female-headed households in the slips titled Jia He Li Min Tian Jia Bie, we can see the tough life of those female-headed households.
Keywords:Zoumalou Slips of the Wu Dynasty, female-headed households, heads of households

Paper type:Published