TRANSLATED

China's Last Eunuch

It is hard to imagine a man having worse luck than Sun Yaoting, whose story is newly translated in The Last Eunuch of China. Before dying in 1996, Yaoting told his story to a historian who had befriended him. Yaoting's father castrated him in "their mud-walled home, with no anesthetic and only oil-soaked paper as a bandage" in a desperate attempt to earn his son access into the Forbidden City, where no men outside of the royal family were allowed. Prior to the revolution, eunuchs were considered powerful individuals with a great deal of influence over the emperor. Unfortunately for Yaoting, his father could not have had worse timing: after falling into a brief coma he awoke to discover that the king had already abdicated. Yet the greatest tragedy befell him during Mao's Cultural Revolution of the 60s and 70s; The "treasure" of his preserved genitalia, which guaranteed his return to manhood in the afterlife, was tossed in the trash for fear of possessing anything associated with the old regime.