Girl breastfeeding her mother-in-law (Asian filial piety)

In Asia, the Confucian Tales of Filial Piety made clear the importance and virtue of putting one's parents before one's self or children. Amongst some twenty-four tales, is the story of a woman who demonstrated her filial nature by offering her breast to her toothless, hungry mother-in-law before her crying baby. The tale herebelow also refers to this specific topic. The abandoned baby, Japanese tale (collected and translated by Maurice Coyaud) Long time ago, there was a scholar named Chûjun. His wife had died young, leaving him with three sons. These sons got married and had babies. One day the scholar gathers his three sons, and talk to them without witness: - I'm getting very old, my teeth are all fallen, all that I can absorb now is milk, just like a baby. I would like to know which one of you three is the most pious son. The elder and younger brothers shout : - That's me ! No one is more pious than I am. The third said nothing. The old man said: - I wish that the wife of one of you gives up her baby and let me suck the milk of the youngster. The elder said: - Certainly not mine. And the younger: - Neither mine. The third said: - Children, I may have some others, but I have only one father, and I cannot replace him. My wife will give him the breast, and we abandon the brat. The father orders him to dig a hole (to bury the mustard?) in a precised location at the foot of three pine trees. The pious son digs there and finds a treasure, which is a reward for his filial piety.

estampe breastfeeding mother in law


Picture of young girl who breastfeeds her father

The story of Pero and Cimon is Roman and is found in a book of stories about ancient life written about 30 AD. In the tale, Cimon is sentenced to death by starvation, but his daughter Pero visits him in jail and secretly breastfeeds him to save his life. She is caught by the jailers, but her act impresses jailers and they release Cimon.