Castration and Deviant Burial
Castration has a long and varied history across the Old World, as many different cultures created and used castrates for multiple reasons. Castrates’ physical state gave them liminal status in their societies, which made them ideal candidates for abnormal burial rites and methods, and a lack of direct heirs made it especially necessary for castrates to plan their burials before death. This often required them to join burial clubs or attempt to ensure that the executor of their will or adopted heirs would carry out the appropriate rituals. Comparing and contrasting what is known about normative and castrate burial rituals in two cultures: China and Early Modern to Modern Europe, this chapter will assess any prescribed burial rituals for castrates. It will then determine whether castrates were buried in a deviant manner for their culture, whether they actually had control over their method of burial, and whether a violation of prescribed rituals could be considered deviant burial.
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