Τετάρτη, 26 Οκτωβρίου 2011

Ling Chi: Death by a thousand cuts

JOSÉ GUTIÉRREZ SOLANA (1886-1945)
"SUPLICIO CHINO"

Ling Chi, or Slow slicing, or the lingering death, or death by a thousand cuts , was a form of execution used in China from roughly AD 900 until its abolition in 1905. In this form of execution, the condemned person was killed by using a knife to methodically remove portions of the body over an extended period of time. The term língchí derives from a classical description of ascending a mountain slowly. Lingchi was reserved for crimes viewed as especially severe, such as treason and killing one's parents. It was meted out for offenses against the Confucian value system such as acts of treason, mass murder, parenticide or the murder of one's master or employer. Emperors used it to threaten people and sometimes ordered it for minor offences. There were forced convictions and wrongful executions. Some emperors meted out this punishment to the family members of his enemies.

mailed postcard depicting Ling Chi execution

The process involved tying the person to be executed to a wooden frame, usually in a public place. The flesh was then cut from the body in multiple slices in a process that was not specified in detail in Chinese law and therefore most likely varied. In later times, opium was sometimes administered either as an act of mercy or as a way of preventing fainting. Lingchi could be used for the torture and execution of a living person, or applied as an act of humiliation after death. So, the punishment worked on three levels: as a form of public humiliation, as a slow and lingering death, and as a punishment after death. According to the Confucianism to be cut someone to pieces meant that the body of the victim would not be "whole" in a spiritual life after death.

This method of execution became a fixture in the image of China among some Westerners. The last executions late 19th early 20th cent. were extensively photographed and printed in postcards. Three sets of photographs shot by French soldiers in 1904-1905 were the basis for later mythification. The abolition was immediately enforced, and definite: no official sentences of língchí were performed in China after April 1905.








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