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Named “guobian” servants in Mandarin literally meaning “around the stove”, the servants in this photo belong to the lowest rank of servants. In the past, there were 90 “guobian servants” for every 100 Black Yi households. Seen as property of the owner, this rank of servants can be traded with a certain price, once 40 taels of silver, equivalent to 100 yuan in the currency released in the Republic of China (1912-1949 AD).
Quote from page 49 in A Research Report on the Yi People in Xikang by Zhuang Xueben

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