A Historical Look at Chinese Marriages: Can Siblings Wed?

For years and years, a strict cultural mandate has been in place that prohibits Chinese from uniting with their own kin. A prohibition that has been held in high regard across the ages.

For ages, Chinese society has strictly forbidden any form of matrimony between family members. This prohibition is still observed with reverence by the population today, although its inception is a mystery. It is speculated that the ban was first imposed to keep genetic abnormalities from occurring due to inbreeding, and also to ensure extended families kept their wealth and possessions intact. Despite its long-standing existence, this cultural regulation continues to be respected in present-day China.



For centuries, Chinese families have embraced a tradition of marrying within the same family. This was done to ensure wealth and power stayed in the family, and in certain cases, even encouraged by the government as a means to bolster familial bonds and loyalty. But with the passage of time, this practice has become less popular due to changes in society and laws that now forbid such unions. Nowadays, marriage between siblings is not only frowned upon but illegal in China, with consequences for those who disobey.

– Historical Marriage Practices in Ancient China

Ascertaining the customs of marriage in Ancient China is a captivating topic. From the earliest records, it is evident that matrimony was held in high esteem and was deemed an indispensable part of life for both genders. Despite some similarities, marriage practices differed significantly between varied regions and social classes. Generally speaking, unions were orchestrated by family members, with the bride’s kinfolk typically providing a dowry to the groom’s relatives. Not only were such nuptials used to strengthen ties between families, but also between states or nations. Furthermore, marriages were seen as a way to construct strong familial bonds.

In Ancient China, most marriages were monogamous; this was true for all social classes except for nobility who had permission to possess multiple wives and concubines. Usually, husbands were older than their brides; this was especially common in rural areas where young men would often take older spouses so as to guarantee their financial stability. Women had virtually no say in whom they married; they would usually not be given any choice at all or just a few potential suitors from which to pick.

Marriage ceremonies in Ancient China varied depending on region and class status; however, generally weddings included rituals such as exchanging presents between families, signing documents of agreement, and performing traditional dances and songs. Subsequent to the ceremony, the bride would normally move into her husband’s abode; she then assumed roles such as housekeeping and childrearing while her partner worked outside of the home.

To sum up, marriage practices in Ancient China reflect its patriarchal structure along with its emphasis on familial bonds and alliances between families or states. Even though many other aspects of Chinese culture have changed over time, these customs remain largely unchanged today.

– The Evolution of Chinese Laws on Sibling Marriages

The past of Chinese laws on sibling marriages has been a convoluted one, with the regulations and restrictions shifting over time. In antiquity, such unions were not looked down upon and could even be encouraged in some cases. Yet, as the years went by, the government began to take note of the likely risks associated with such relationships and started to impose more stringent limitations.

In the Song Dynasty (960-1279), rules were first established that banned marriages between those who shared either their mother or father. This law was further reinforced during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), where it became unlawful for siblings to marry no matter if they had one or both parents in common. During this period, anyone found guilty of disregarding this rule faced huge fines or was even exiled from their hometowns.

The Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) saw an even stricter enforcement of these laws as well as additional prohibitions placed on certain types of marriages, like those between close relatives. The punishments for breaking these laws also augmented considerably and could include death in extreme situations.

At present, although it is still illegal for siblings to wed in China, there are several exceptions made for those who have obtained special authorization from local authorities due to exceptional conditions. Despite this lenience, though, most people still consider sibling marriage as taboo and it continues to be strongly discouraged by society at large.

– How Religion Influenced Chinese Views on Sibling Marriages

Throughout the ages, Chinese culture has been heavily impacted by religion. From Confucianism to Taoism, Buddhism and even Christianity and Islam, different faiths have weighed in on the matter of sibling marriages. In ancient times, Confucianism was the primary religion and it held that marriage should be based on mutual respect between two families; therefore, siblings were not allowed to marry as it would cause disharmony within the family. Other religions such as Taoism and Buddhism also taught that individuals should maintain harmony with their surroundings by avoiding incestuous relationships, thus making sibling marriages taboo in traditional Chinese society.

However, these views began to change over time as new religions gained influence in China. Christianity and Islam did not have any specific prohibitions against sibling marriages, so more people began to accept them as a legitimate form of union. Nowadays, while there is still some stigma attached to sibling marriages in China, they are generally accepted by most religious groups and are becoming increasingly common. Though these unions may still be perceived as unorthodox by some people, they are no longer seen as completely unacceptable or immoral in modern Chinese society.

– Famous Sibling Marriages in Chinese History

Throughout the annals of Chinese history, there have been numerous renowned cases of sibling marriages. These unions were often orchestrated by influential families in order to bolster their power and prestige. One of the most renowned is between Emperor Gaozu of Han and his sis Princess Wangzhi, which was a means to solidify the emperor’s reign and venerate their ancestral heritage. Another celebrated example is between Emperor Wu Zetian and her younger brother Li Hongji; this union was contrived by Wu Zetian’s father so as to secure her succession after his death, as well as control her sibling who had gained considerable influence during his rule. The most recent case is that between Emperor Guangxu and Princess Consort Zhenfei, arranged by Empress Dowager Cixi for the purpose of safeguarding Guangxu’s ascension to the throne. This marriage caused much controversy due to its unorthodoxy yet ultimately proved successful in ensuring Guangxu’s rule over China.

These famous sibling marriages are evidence of how powerful families throughout Chinese history have employed strategic alliances between siblings to strengthen their political standing and guarantee their lineages would continue on for generations. Although such unions are now largely disapproved, they remain an essential part of Chinese history that should be acknowledged and respected for their role in shaping the country’s culture and politics today.

– Cultural Significance of Sibling Marriages in Ancient China

The practice of sibling marriage has been an integral part of Chinese culture for centuries. Its roots can be traced back to ancient times, when it was seen as a way to preserve family lines and consolidate wealth. For the elite classes, marriages were often arranged by parents in order to strengthen political ties or form alliances between families. This custom was also associated with filial piety, a Confucian virtue that emphasizes respect for one’s elders and ancestors. It was believed that siblings would have a stronger bond than couples who did not share blood ties, thus resulting in more stable marriages and greater loyalty to their parents’ wishes. Additionally, this practice enabled families to keep property within the clan rather than risk division due to outside influences.

Though sibling marriage is no longer widely accepted today, its cultural significance remains an important part of Chinese history. It serves as a reminder of how traditional values can shape social norms even in modern times and how familial bonds can be strengthened through such practices.


Throughout the annals of time, Chinese people have been barred from uniting in matrimony with their siblings. This was due to the Confucian philosophy that marriage should be based on admiration and not merely on familial relations. Moreover, Chinese legislation has consistently forbidden marriage between siblings in order to avert incest and other likely genetic difficulties that could arise from such a bond. Consequently, it is impossible for a Chinese individual to wed their sister at present.


Some questions with answers

Q1: Was it historically allowed for Chinese to marry their sister?

A1: Historically, it was not allowed for Chinese to marry their siblings.

Q2: Were there any exceptions to this rule in history?

A2: There were some rare exceptions in which sibling marriage was allowed, such as during times of war or famine when other options were limited.

Q3: Did the Chinese government ever encourage sibling marriage?

A3: No, the Chinese government has never encouraged sibling marriage.

Q4: How did traditional Chinese culture view sibling marriage?

A4: Traditional Chinese culture viewed sibling marriage as taboo and strongly discouraged it.

Q5: Is marrying a sibling still illegal in China today?

A5: Yes, marrying a sibling is still illegal in China today and is punishable by law.

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