Anonymous, Death by a Thousand Cuts,
+/- 1900, China,
Vintage silver print, Excellent,
13.5 X 8 cm
Antique Chinese "Death by a Thousand Cuts" "making the last cut before death" original photograph. Slow slicing (língchí) also known as lingering death is a form of execution used in China before the modern era. The literal meaning of língchí is "humiliating and slow"; the method was officially outlawed in 1905. Slow slicing was sometimes used for the torture and execution of a living person, or applied as an act of humiliation only after death. It was meted out for offences such as acts of treason, murder, or assault on one's parents. There are problems in obtaining details of how the executions took place. It seems however that executions consisted of cuts to the arms, legs, and chest, followed by decapitation or a stab to the heart. For those who could afford it, it was not unusual to bribe the torturer so that the coup de grace came more quickly, thereby reducing the victim's suffering. This method of execution became a fixture in the image of China among some Westerners and is sometimes referred to as death by a thousand cuts. It appears in various romantic accounts of Chinese cruelty, such as Harold Lamb's 1930s biography of Genghis Khan.