I found some interesting information about rituals and traditions around the maternity in South of China and Taiwan.
By discussing with some Chinese friends, it seems that these rituals are still existing and applied in the whole China.
These rituals are commonly called 月子Yue zi.
My questions are :
Is there anyone here who could confirm such rituals ?
Do you know other birthing rituals from different ethnies or part of China ?
Did you/or/your wife still apply them?
Could you tell me more about its origins...
Birthing rituals in South China and Taiwan :
Extract of a narrative lived in rural China of a humanitarian mission in Guangxi. This mission took place more particularly within two districts called Gongdong and Danian. Gongdong being a district populated with Miao and Danian populates with Dong.
It is important for Chinese to have children and a large number of faiths and superstitions are existing around the birth. During the pregnancy, in order to have a son, the couple appeals to the divinities. The means are numerous to procreate a male child. A male first name is given to the second girl been born to be sure to father a boy in the next birth.
It is advisable to protect the pregnant woman from any bad influence. She has to avoid funerals and visits to the patients. With a small mirror, she keeps away the bad spirits and ghosts who could damage the child.
In Taiwan, it is considered that in the room where the pregnant woman is located, "the spirit of the embryo" is roaming around. To avoid damaging this spiritual copy of the child, it is forbidden for the pregnant to sew, to nail, to handle a knife being afraid that the child is born with a malformation. This might explain why the Chinese pregnant women working in France are wearing a sort of preventive talisman (preventive treatment to avoid the appearance of a disease) in the form of a safety pin, placed on the pants at the level of the navel, to which is a red thread is attached.
The rituals concerning the delivery are always made in the same purpose: to push awaythe bad spirits and ghosts, the bad effects which could make dirty the soul of the newborn baby. So, it is common to light a red candle to exorcize the wandering souls which quarrel the body of the child to be reincarnated there. Also, every people known as a bad-tempered person is pushed aside being afraid that the child is affected by the same faults.
Finally, the way the child is born, is also subject to many suppositions. The one who is not in a hurry to be born or who must be extracted by caesarian will certainly give some headaches to his parents because he refused to lower the head to go out. The baby born with hair will be lucky during all his life. It is said that he was born in a purple color envelope, symbol of the happiness. It has been noted that the Chinese women tend to give birth silently. It can be explained by the modesty but also because the shouts showing the pain would be a loss of vital energy thus a lack of concentration on the work of the delivery. There are no known rituals about the placenta. On the other hand, soiled waters by the delivery (blood, amniotic liquid, the water of the toilet) must be buried. A hole is dug in the ground which is recovered carefully with soil. So the woman who brings the child will have no injured eyes.
The faiths around the post-partum (period from the end of the delivery until the first period after the pregnancy) and the practices which derive from it remain very present for the Chinese women who just gave birth. The superstitions during the pregnancy continue after the delivery. It is necessary to protect the mother and the new child from the fatal effects.
In china, three days after the delivery, nobody can visit the mummy. It is considered that she is in a maximum vulnerability state, the pores of the skin are considered as all opened, and the woman has to stay in the room during one month. She has just nothing else to do than to take care of her baby and to recover a good health.
During this period, we spare her the cold and the drafts. This custom shows the willingness to chase away the malefic strengths. We sweep carefully corners and hidden recesses. We close and we seal all the openings of room.
The woman who delivered wears a headband and practises only a basic wash by neglecting feet and hair to protect her from diseases. She does not either have to expose her family members to the harmful influences which watch for her. If by the end of the month, she would enter in a neighbouring house, it would be a bad omen.
Another practice shows that the woman does not have to take a shower for 40 days to avoid her rheumatoid arthritis on her old days. The blood losses of the woman are considered as polluting and polluted, this will oblige her to respect a diet consisted of food such as meat, poultry, spices, food with sweet and prickly flavour, with dilative effects. She should not wash her head, in order to favor the flow of blood.
Also, it is necessary to protect the health of the infant. On the third day of life, the child is placed in a warm and fragrant bath. Some coins are thrown in it and some fruits of good omen in order to wish him happiness and long life. We shall avoid showing too noisily our admiration in front of the newborn child, just in case it would attract the bad spirits. On the contrary, to make them run away, it is better to say that the child is foul and to attach to him a nickname or a vulgar name, this one is similar to the names of harmful animals or rude things.
When the woman ended the first month after the delivery, the family celebrates the first month. The child is introduced to the elders and becomes member of the family. The custom says that we shave him the head. Often, we leave him a tuft at the bottom of the nape of the neck, this small bunch symbolizes the link with the ancestors.
Edited by Liu, 23 September 2007 - 02:19 PM.