Due to the inadequacies of the surviving sources, this study of the highly controversial issue of Sung land tenure focuses on variations in land tenure practices in six regions of South China during the Southern Sung. It finds that large private landholdings predominated in only a few areas of South China, that they usually did not possess the contiguity and size some have attributed to a supposed Sung manorial order, and that most peasant households owned some land. Of those who worked another's land, three types are studied in detail—the land guest, the field servant, and the tenant guest. Normally the land guest was bound to the land, the field servant hired as a temporary indentured servant, and the tenant guest obliged to provide little more than rent. Working conditions south of the Yangtze generally grew less subservient the closer the area was located to the Lower Yangtze Valley.

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