Magic and Female Pollution
At midnight on the eighteenth day [ June 14, 1900] three churches [in Tianjin's Chinese city], the one inside the West Gate, the one in front of the garrison headquarters, and the one at the entrance to the granary, were burned down by the Boxer bandits. . . . While the church at the granary entrance was burning, the flames spread to a dozen or so private residences next door and across the street. The bandits passed the word around that, just as they were setting fire to the church in question, some woman from across the way had come out of her home and spilled dirty water. Their magic was therefore destroyed, and the misfortune extended [beyond the church]. On the basis of this [explanation], the families whose homes had been burned down didn't resent the Boxer bandits; they all cursed the woman. People who have complete faith in the Boxer bandits' claims say that, as [the Boxers] were on the point of setting fire to the churches, several dozen Red Lanterns ascended high into the air and circled around each church once. After this the Boxer teacher recited an incantation and pointed toward the doorway of the church with a stick of incense, at which point the fire started. . . .
After burning down these churches, the Boxer bandits issued orders to all families not to eat meat for three days. They also instructed women not to go out of their homes at night and not to throw dirty water into their courtyards, lest they give offense to the gods and incur blame. . . .
On the twenty-second day [June 18], from early morning until noon, the sound of gunfire was constant. Supporters of the Boxer bandits said: "When the fighting began between the Boxers and the foreigners, the foreigners were unable to hold their own. Then, suddenly, in the midst of the foreign army there stood a naked woman. The Boxers'magical powers were thwarted, and they dared not advance."
Liu Mengyang, resident of Tianjin1
Chinese, as well as foreigners, who have written on the Boxer movement, either as contemporary witnesses or latter-day scholars, have consistently --
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Publication information: Book title: History in Three Keys:The Boxers as Event, Experience, and Myth. Contributors: Paul A. Cohen - Author. Publisher: Columbia University Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1997. Page number: 119.
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