This case study examines the central role that xiao (filial piety) played in defining character for all the members of the Bao family in the Northern Song (960–1127). It shows that while ritual and ethical codes required children to care for the welfare of their parents with reverence and to act with sincerity in mourning and other posthumous ritual performances, the diversity in familial situations and individual decisions tremendously challenged any neat models for filial practice. In becoming the extraordinarily devoted sons and daughters/daughters-in-law that they were, the Bao men and women overcame a variety of hardships and obstacles. This investigation of the Baos' responses to challenging situations aims to further our understanding of the multiple meanings of and ways to express filial devotion in the Northern Song.

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