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  • A large crowd gathers as a man whimpers while being bound to a wooden post.

  • What he has coming to him is beyond horrifying, so barbaric that it will send shockwaves around

  • the world.

  • An executioner holds a sharpened knife aloft as the onlookers shuffle nervously.

  • The first slice is made, a deep incision in the man's chest.

  • The next side comes next.

  • Skin, flesh, and blood are now accumulating around the man's feet.

  • He will be cut all over until his bones are exposed, but with a deftness of hand, the

  • executioner will make sure this man will keep breathing for as long as possible.

  • He is forced to be a spectator in his own very painful, infinitely traumatic execution.

  • This is the story of slow-slicing.

  • It was the Chinese who came up with this terrifying form of slow execution, giving it the name

  • lingchi.”

  • That loosely translates as slow slicing or lingering death.

  • How long it actually lasted and how many cuts were made differed over the centuries throughout

  • different parts of China, but it was never a nice way to go.

  • Westerners tended to call itdeath by a thousand cuts”, although it's questionable

  • if 1,000 slices were ever made.

  • Whatever the case, it was one hellish way to die.

  • Let's first have a look at some early examples of people being executed this way.

  • We don't know exactly when it started, but there are some very old Chinese texts that

  • suggest it goes back to the second century BC.

  • The emperor Qin Er Shi was said to have killed people this way, folks he'd accused of not

  • being loyal to him.

  • He also subjected people to theFive Painspunishment, which usually involved a person

  • losing their feet and their reproductive organs, among other things.

  • Throughout the centuries it remained, although it was abolished from time to time by some

  • rulers who took a dim view of the act.

  • For instance, in the 12th century the poet named Lu You had this to say about lingchi:

  • When the muscles of the flesh are already taken away, the breath of life is not yet

  • cut off, liver and heart are still connected, seeing and hearing still exist.

  • It affects the harmony of nature, it is injurious to a benevolent government, and does not befit

  • a generation of wise men.”

  • Still, as you'll see today, it happened right up until modern times and not surprisingly

  • shocked a lot of people in the Westeven though their own histories included a fair

  • amount of flaying, evisceration, and other horrific forms of punishment.

  • So, what kind of criminal act would result in a person dying this awful way?

  • It seems throughout Chinese history the main culprit was treason, but whether the person

  • was actually guilty of the crime or just accused of it by a paranoid and vicious ruler is up

  • for debate.

  • It didn't only happen in China, either, and it wasn't always Chinese people that

  • were executed this way, as readers of French history will tell you.

  • But let's stay with China for now.

  • In 1402, a man named Fang Xiaoru was put to death this way after getting on the wrong

  • side of the Yongle Emperor.

  • This guy really irked the powers that be, so the emperor also demanded the punishment

  • of nine familial exterminations.

  • It's said Xiaoru saidmake it ten”, so ten it was.

  • He had to watch family and friends being executed in front of him.

  • He was apparently later cut to pieces and then sawed in half at the waist.

  • In the early 1500s, a peasant was subjected to lingchi for merely starting a rumor, although

  • you could say what he said wasn't very prudent given the times.

  • He said the emperor's mother wasn't actually his real mother, and that was that, off to

  • the chopping block he went.

  • Fast-forward to the mid-1500s and there was something called the Renyin Plot.

  • This involved a bunch of palace women plotting to murder the emperor.

  • They almost succeeded, too, if it wasn't for a snitch and the pesky Empress Fang.

  • Since the emperor was in a bad way after being attacked by the women, it was Fang that oversaw

  • the slow-slicing of the 16 women involved.

  • Ten members of the women's families were also executed, but by beheading.

  • Apparently, when the emperor woke up, he was peeved that one of his favorite consorts had

  • gone by way of lingchi.

  • As the years passed, it seems revolts and disloyalty to a leader were the main reasons

  • why people were sliced, but at times it happened for other serious offenses.

  • In the early 19th century there was a man named Zhang Liangbi.

  • It seems he was a kind of early serial killer, abducting and assaulting a number of girls

  • and killing 11 of them.

  • He was subsequently sliced to death.

  • Around the same time, a man was put to death by lingchi for having gone crazy and killed

  • his own mother.

  • Another person went the same way for poisoning his father.

  • Not long after, a village leader named Kumud Pazik was executed in public this way for

  • trying to help indigenous Taiwanese people fight against the Chinese expansionists.

  • Then there was the bandit named Kang Xiaoba, who according to Chinese historians, used

  • a revolver made in Japan to rob people all over the countryside.

  • He grew a fierce reputation and even threatened rulers in Beijing.

  • They didn't take kindly to the threats, so an example of this man had to be made.

  • He was arrested and it was ruled that his crimes had been appalling enough to merit

  • the punishment of lingchi.

  • According to one Chinese writer talking about Xiaoba, in those days there were ways to make

  • the ordeal less painful.

  • The writer said if you had the money, you could pay to be blindfolded.

  • Remember, watching your body being torn off must have been pretty shocking.

  • Secondly, a person could sometimes pay for pain drugs.

  • The writer was likely referring to opium, something often used in lingchi executions.

  • A person could also pay for someone to go straight to the heart, which meant they wouldn't

  • have to endure all the cuts.

  • Some western historians have said that opium was given to the person anyway, and they didn't

  • have to pay.

  • Other scholars have also written that many times the person's death might have happened

  • quickly since the major organs were torn out not so long after the first cuts.

  • As for Westerners suffering lingchi, there's the story of the French missionary named Joseph

  • Marchand.

  • He was working in Vietnam, but then in 1833, there was a royal decree there that said all

  • foreign missionaries must go.

  • Marchand wasn't the only French missionary to be executed, but it seems he was the only

  • one to be killed by a kind of lingchi.

  • His executioners didn't actually use a knife.

  • They pulled off his flesh using red hot tongs.

  • That probably hurt more than the knife.

  • The church made him a martyr after that.

  • The problem with getting detailed explanations from all these people who were subjected to

  • lingchi in China is that the act wasn't actually written into the criminal code.

  • As we said earlier, how it went down could have been different from time to time.

  • The one thing which was always the same is that it was at least supposed to last a good

  • few minutes.

  • This was because as well as being a method of killing someone, it was also supposed to

  • serve as a way to humiliate someone.

  • A simple beheading just wasn't good enough for certain people.

  • There's also the fact that the act destroyed the body.

  • It kind of made the person impure, monstrous.

  • This was why it was usually reserved for the very worst crimes, including treason, mass

  • murder, and the murder of one's mother or father.

  • Saying that, some historians write that people were killed for more minor offenses and some

  • people who were sliced were actually wrongly accused of the crime.

  • As for how long the person lasted, it seems in many instances quite some time.

  • The chest was often the first place of contact, with so much flesh being taken that the ribcage

  • was exposed.

  • This would not result in death, however, or at least for most people it wouldn't have.

  • The arms and legs came next, and sometimes limbs were completely removed.

  • The death would usually happen when the heart was stabbed.

  • How long it took to get to that differed and was probably related to the gravity of the

  • crime.

  • Others have since argued that after the first few deep cuts, and we are talking chunks of

  • flesh, the person would likely lose consciousness.

  • It all depended on how deep the cuts were.

  • There are details in Chinese texts that say the Yuan dynasty did 100 cuts, but the Ming

  • Dynasty tried to do 3,000 cuts.

  • Still, many of those cuts could have happened after the person died.

  • Nonetheless, other scholars have pointed out that some emperors demanded that the death

  • was a slow one, lasting as long as three days.

  • In this case, the cutting must have been less extreme.

  • Take the case of the military general Yuan Chonghuan.

  • On the orders of the emperor, he was arrested on January 13, 1630.

  • He'd been accused of helping the enemy, although it's written that there wasn't

  • much evidence to support this.

  • He was asked to say his final words, whereby he said:

  • “A life's work always ends up in vain; half of my career seems to be in dreams.

  • I do not worry about lacking brave warriors after my death, for my loyal spirit will continue

  • to guard Liaodong.”

  • Chinese official records show that it took half a day for him to die, and while they

  • were cutting he was screaming all the time.

  • When they were finished with him, they'd cut almost every part of him but the head.

  • That was taken off and later buried.

  • But what really cemented this kind of execution in the minds of people outside of China was

  • when a man named Wang Weiqin was sliced up.

  • Prior to his arrest, he'd been quite a rich landowner, but he was also a criminal who'd

  • ordered the murder of a rival family consisting of 12 people.

  • This was in 1904, so when some French soldiers were on the scene with a camera in their hand

  • they took photos.

  • Those photos made it into the western media and lingchi soon became infamous.

  • It was also a useful way to portray the Chinese as brutes.

  • There was worse to come.

  • A year later, a man named Fou Tchou-Li was subjected to this punishment and yet again

  • French soldiers were on hand to photograph the event, except this time the pictures were

  • what you might call super-gruesome.

  • Fou Tchou-Li had been a slave for a Mongol prince, but as the story goes, the prince

  • tried to take advantage of the man's wife.

  • For that, the slave killed him.

  • Needless to say, this type of action was frowned upon, so on April 10 poor Fou Tchou-Li was

  • horrifically sliced apart.

  • The entire event was captured by those Frenchmen, including the scenes of the crowds and the

  • guy being dragged to the wooden block.

  • It is a sight to behold, and not for the sensitive.

  • He is naked when tied up, with an expression on his face that looks somewhere between blank

  • and quietly terrified.

  • The first cut takes off pretty much of his left breast.

  • He's photographed just looking down at it, again not screaming, but looking distant and

  • petrified.

  • They then take the other breast, and we are talking about a large chunk.

  • They subsequently cut parts of his legs off so the bones are completely exposed, and then

  • they start on the arms.

  • Is he dead at this point?

  • It seems not, because his head is still upright.

  • Although his facial expression is almost ghostly as if he is half dead.

  • They then hack off most of his arms and go to work on the legs again.

  • Finally, off comes his head.

  • It would be an understatement to say those photographs were frowned upon in the west.

  • The somewhat alternative French philosopher named Georges Bataille was obsessed by some

  • of the photos, noting that at some points the man's face showed a kind of ecstasy

  • while looking skywards.

  • He later wrote, “I have never stopped being obsessed by this image of pain, at once ecstatic

  • and intolerable.”

  • Any of you that know your horror movies will recall the absolutely terrifying French film,

  • Martyrs, which was undoubtedly inspired in part because of Bataille's discovery of

  • those lingchi photographs and what he thought about them.

  • As for what happened to lingchi after that, well, as the whole world was castigating China

  • for such grotesque acts, the practice was soon abolished.

  • It seems it didn't happen after that, although there are a few books that state Chinese Communist

  • insurgents were killed this way in the 1920s.

  • Other reports state the Communists did the same in return, but how true these accounts

  • are we don't know.

  • Perhaps the most terrifying story from that time was written by the Russian Tibetologist

  • George de Roerich.

  • In his book, “Trails to Inmost Asia.”

  • He writes that a governor named Yang Tseng-hsin was executed by way of lingchi in 1928, but

  • before that, he was forced to watch his daughter go the same way.

  • The book states he was cut 10,000 times, which would seem impossible, so it's not surprising

  • the author wasn't there to see it.

  • Now you need to watch, “The Blood Eagle - Worst Punishments in the History of Mankind.”

  • Or, have a look at...

A large crowd gathers as a man whimpers while being bound to a wooden post.

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Slow Slicing - Worst Punishments in the History of Mankind

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    Summer posted on 2021/05/21
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