A copy of the settlement with punctuations added.

A 1000-year-old Chinese divorce settlement agreement was unearthed in 1900 from Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes in Gansu Province.

The following is a rough translation of this Tang Dynasty divorce settlement paper penned by a man named Zhao Zongmin:

We all know when a man and a woman become a couple, they love each other.

The cause for a man and a woman to get married is rooted in their previous lives when they had a chance to meet one another repeatedly and a strong will on both parties to live as a couple one day.

However, not all marriages are happy uniona. If a marriage is a doomed one, the couple must be the enemies in their previous lives seeking a revenge against each other this life. The wife keeps complaining her husband and the husband keeps a distance from his wife. A marriage as such is like a cat and a rat staying together, or a wolf and a sheep living in a same room.

The original Tang Dynasty divorce settlement paper unearthed from Dunhuang

Since the husband and the wife have different mind and heart, they wish to live apart from and be independent of each other.

In consideration of the above, I, the husband, and you, the wife, agree to live separate lives.

After divorce, I wish you, my wife, will soon find a good man to marry again. I hope you and your next husband will be happily enjoying your wonderful lives together.

After divorce, I wish we let go all our problems and do not feel ill towards each other. We shall each have full and unfettered control over our own destiny.

I, the husband, will provide three years of food and clothing to you, my wife, after divorce. I sincerely wish you, my wife, live long and prosper.

(The year, the month, the day, the location, signature)


Plautus Satire
Very progressive and generous husband, though which one is the rat and which one is the cat? I meant which one does the fleeing and which one does the chasing

All Things Chinese
Since it was the wife doing all the nagging, and the husband doing the distance keeping, plus this agreement was drafted by the man, naturally, the husband must reckon his wife was the cat and he was the rat. If the other way round, do you think the husband would want to divorce his wife?

A cat certainly wouldn’t mind to stay together with a rat. Will you mind to sit at the same dining table with a barbecue chicken? I won’t. 😉

You are welcome to share your thoughts here