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Birthing rituals / 月子 Yue zi


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#1 Liu

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Posted 23 September 2007 - 02:16 PM

Hi,

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...


Thank you!
Liu

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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.

问世间情为何物,直叫生死相许?

#2 aiaia

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Posted 24 September 2007 - 09:22 AM

In my memories, the word yue-zi simply refer to the period of post-partus recovery, which usually last for a month (yue = month). There will be a special diet for the mother. I don't know there exist any special rituals in Han ethnics.

#3 General_Zhaoyun

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Posted 24 September 2007 - 09:35 AM

Yeah.... it's very common in Taiwan and Singapore to have the 'birthing ritual' known as "Yue Zi 月子". If I'm not wrong, it usually last for 1 month (esp. the 1st month after giving birth to baby). It's the month whereby one will rest and recover after giving birth. When my sister gave birth to a baby, my mum flew to America to help her do the ritual (known as "zuo yue zi 做月子").

Usually, one will need to rest, take some nutritional food or medicine, while someone will help to take care of the baby.

This type of chinese rituals/culture belongs to what's known as "chinese folklore" (or folks culture 民俗文化).
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#4 Liu

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Posted 28 September 2007 - 01:54 PM

Yeah.... it's very common in Taiwan and Singapore to have the 'birthing ritual' known as "Yue Zi 月子". If I'm not wrong, it usually last for 1 month (esp. the 1st month after giving birth to baby). It's the month whereby one will rest and recover after giving birth. When my sister gave birth to a baby, my mum flew to America to help her do the ritual (known as "zuo yue zi 做月子").

Usually, one will need to rest, take some nutritional food or medicine, while someone will help to take care of the baby.

This type of chinese rituals/culture belongs to what's known as "chinese folklore" (or folks culture 民俗文化).


That's unusual for me... I am not sure that birth rituals are still existing in Europe, in my family there are no rituals like this at all.
Maybe, fcharton, who has children, will be able to confirm that such rituals are no longer existing.

I just wanted to know more about these rituals/culture. Would be nice if a chinese woman could tell us...
How to explain that people are still applying them today ?
Will you apply them when your wife will give birth GZ ?

I found other information about 月子 in Tibet :

Birth Rituals in Tibet
  When one comes to the world, he/she will encounter the first ritual held to mark the birth. Prior to the Democratic Reform in 1959, the broad masses of women groaning under feudal serfdom enjoyed no personal freedom; instead, they were discriminated against. Although women in Bangjor Lhunbo village had one point of pride in: giving birth at home (which was not allowed in other Tibetan areas), they were denied of sufficient rest and rational care. Women nangzen slaves were given three days of maternity leave, and some rapeseed oil as a congratulation (the Pariha family did so to congratulate themselves on having one more laborer in the fliture). As nangzen slaves often lived in near destitution, they had no money to hold birth ceremonies for their newborn babies. In the village, nangzen children were not supplied with clothing and food before 13. After that, they had to toil like their parents.
  
After the Democratic Reform, the villagers enjoyed a new life. The situation improved with each passing day for pregnant women in terms of diet. However, they refrain from eating pienniu meat (pienniu is an offspnng of a bull and a female yak), believing this prolonged the pregnancy. Therefore, they turn to mutton, beef, chicken eggs and bone broth. When giving birth, many now go to county hospital or township clinic, which they are convinced is more hygienic. But giving birth at home still holds sway for many.
  
The birth ceremony is called Pangsai in Tibetan, with "pan" meaning fowls and "sai" cleaning away. The Tibetans believe newborn babies come to the world alongside fowls, and a ceremony should be held to wipe them out so that these babies would be able to grow healthily and mothers recover soon. Such rituals, evolved from a Bon religious ritual to worship the God, have been going on for more than 1,500 years. On the third day of the birth of boy (fourth day for a girl), households tied together through gyido association come for the rituals, bringing such gifts as qingke barley wine, buttered tea, meat, butter and clothing for the newborn. As soon as they enter the house, they present hada scarves to the baby's parents and then the baby. This is followed by toasting, presenting gifts, and examining the baby while offering good wishes. Some families throw in a pancake feast to entertain the visitors.

  The newborn baby is not given a name until the end of the birth rituals. Generally, a Living Buddha or a prestigious senior villager is invited, but there are also cases when the baby is named by his/her parents. No matter who names the baby, the naming is performed in accordance with the will of the baby's parents for auspiciousness.
When the baby is one month old, a ritual is held on an auspicious day to take the baby out of the home. Before leaving, black ash taken from the pot bottom is used to blacken the baby's nose to ward off evil. Generally, the baby, donned in new clothes, is taken to the monastery for worshipping the Buddha and also for blessing.
问世间情为何物,直叫生死相许?




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