The article is a case history study. Basing on a well-documented criminal case of 1809, the author explores such issues as corruption in the ranks of Chinese officials; effectiveness of severe punishments for crime prevention; the methods criminal offences were committed and investigated in the Qing empire, and the level of public awareness of these methods; principles of sentencing; and the issue of crime and punishment in the mass consciousness of the Chinese in the late 17th and early 19th centuries. Special attention is paid to a remarkable phenomenon of fictionalizing of a real incident in witness reports, i.e. the introduction of popular moral, didactic and religious motifs widely known in the folklore and literature of that time.
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