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China Perspectives
The Twenty-four Paragons of Filtal Piety 10

Number Ten
Never Tiring of Feeding Her Mother-in-law Milk: Lady Tang

In the Tang Dynasty, an official named Cui Nanshan, had in his family the Grand Dame Zhang Sun, Mr. Cui"s great-grandmother. She was quite elderly, and had lost all her teeth, thus she could not chew even soft rice. Eating was a big problem. Mr. Tswei"s grandmother, the Lady Tang, realized the difficulty her mother-in law had in chewing food, and thus hit upon a solution to keep the Grand Dame alive and in good health. The Lady Tang would wake up each morning, perform her daily toilet of washing her face and combing her hair, then she would enter her mother-in-law"s chambers and proceed to feed her breast-milk from her own body. The elderly matron had no trouble digesting this nutriment, and thus thanks to her daughter-in-law, even though she could not eat normal food, her body stayed strong and healthy.

One day she fell ill, and knowing that her life was about to reach its natural end, she summoned all her generations of descendants into her room and told them, "All these years I have been looked after by my daughter-in-law. She has treated me most kindly, and I am deeply grateful to her. I only hope that the wives of all my children and grandchildren will be as considerate and proper in their filial devotion as she has been towards me."

When the family heard her final words, they were deeply impressed, and ever after, used the Grand Dame Jang Sun"s advice as the motto of the household. The teaching was passed down and cherished through the many generations of the Tswei family.

A verse in her honor says,

Out of deep respect for the Tswei Family"s matron,
After morning toilet she would feed the Grand Dame milk.
Kindness such as this is difficult to repay;
May every generation of descendants be so kind!

 
   
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