Being born a boy in
ancient China meant you were lucky. Boys, especially if they were the eldest,
became head of the household, and his siblings then brought their families
to live with him. Boys were considered as superior to girls, and, as head
of the household, they were expected to keep up religious sacrifices to
their family ancestors. A boy was expected to marry as soon as he was of
age. A wealthy man also had many 'minor' wives, called concubines.
Girls didn't have very
nice lives, as wherever they went they had to obey all males. They first
had to obey their father, then their husband, and finally their eldest
son. Women had practically no power back then; they weren't allowed to
own any property, and when they became old the only power they had was
being able to boss their daughter-in-law around.
The main household rule
was that children should obey their parents at all times, even if you were
a boy. At an early age, children had to swear to care for their parents
if they got sick and in old age.
Poor families, if they
were desperate, had to sometimes sell their daughters to be servants or
slaves to the rich.
The names of the Ancient
Chinese reflected the importance of their family. The last name was always
written first, and the first name last, and this is still the custom today.
Sometimes, during festivals,
a family got together and relaxed for a while- quite the opposite to the
normal strict routines of home. Fathers, during this relaxed time, might
stay with their wives and children or go to an ancestor's grave to pay
Ancient Chinese Currency (weird, isn't it?)