Shim-pua marriage

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
A Shim-pua marriage certificate from Ming dynasty (1588)

Tongyangxi (traditional Chinese: 童養媳; simplified Chinese: 童养媳; pinyin: tóngyǎngxí), also known as Shim-pua marriage in Taiwanese (Chinese: 新婦仔; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: sin-pū-á or sim-pū-á), was a tradition of arranged marriage dating back to pre-modern China, in which a poor family would sell a pre-adolescent daughter to a richer family as a servant. In exchange, the girl would be married into the adopted family when both children reached puberty. The girl then acts both as a daughter-in-law to the adoptive family and also as a free labourer. The girl was usually a few years older than the male child. Due to the lower class status of the girls, discrimination was often present, and slavery-like treatment was common.

A direct translation of "shim-pua" is simply "little daughter-in-law", while "tongyangxi" means "daughter-in-law raised from childhood."

These marriages were often unsuccessful. This has been explained as a demonstration of the Westermarck effect.

In China, the practice was outlawed by the Communist Party of China after they took over in 1949.

In Taiwan, shim-pua marriage fell out of practice in the 1970s due to increased wealth resulting from Taiwan's economic success, making such arrangements unnecessary.

Related concepts[edit]

Zhaozhui (Chinese: 招贅; pinyin: zhāozhùi or Chinese: 招婿 or 招翁; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: chio-sài or chio-ang) is a related custom by which a wealthy family that lacks an heir might take in a boy child, although such marriages usually involve a procreation-age male.[1] Since these marriages required the husband entering the wife's household (contrary to traditional Chinese norms), they were relegated to a lower social status.[1] During the Qing dynasty, these marriages became increasingly common to maintain inheritance bloodlines.[1] The boy would take on the familial name of his new family, and typically would marry the family's daughter.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Lin Yuju (2011). "Zhaozhui son-in-law". Encyclopedia of Taiwan. Council for Cultural Affairs. Retrieved 12 September 2012.