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The Eunuchs of China

As long ago as the 8th Century B.C., Chinese emperors kept castrated males as palace servants, especially to guard harems. This bit of history is detailed in Mary M. Anderson's Hidden Power: The Palace Eunuchs of Imperial China, Prometheus Press, 1990. A substantial excerpt of this text may be found here. This tradition officially ended with the end of the Ch'ing dynasty in the republican revolution of 1912. There were said to be 470 eunuchs in China at that time.

Chinese eunuchs. (Source: Wong KC, Wu L (1932). "History of Chinese Medicine." Tientsin, China: The Tientsin Press Ltd., pp. 109-113.)

By 1960, the number of Chinese eunuchs had dwindled to 26 living in Beijing. In that year, a team of urologists was allowed to examine the last surviving Chinese eunuchs. That study was published in the medical literature ("The Prostate in Eunuchs" Wu Chieh Ping and Gu Fang-Liu, EORTC Genitourinary Group Monograph 10, Wiley-Liss, Inc., 1991). The urologists found that in more than 80% of these men, who had an average age of 72 and who had been eunuchs for an average of 54 years, the prostate was nonpalpable. A summary of that study is reproduced here.

Chinese eunuchs were not only castrated, they were fully emasculated. (Source: See above graphic.)

The authors conclude, "This is probably the largest series of human beings followed for such a long period of time to confirm that testicular hormone is essential for the development and preservation of the prostate."

 

 

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