A prisoner is executed on a wooden bench with a large blade.

Waist chop or waist cutting (simplified Chinese: 腰斩; traditional Chinese: 腰斬; pinyin: Yāo zhǎn), also known as cutting in two at the waist,[1] was a form of execution used in ancient China.[2] As its name implies, it involved the condemned being sliced in two at the waist by an executioner.


Waist chopping first appeared during the Zhou dynasty (c. 1046 BC – 256 BC). There were three forms of execution used in the Zhou dynasty: chēliè (車裂; quartering the prisoner alive), zhǎn (斬; waist chop), and shā (殺; beheading).[3] Sometimes, the chopping was not limited to one slice.

The first Ming dynasty emperor Zhu Yuanzhang sentenced the poet Gao Qi to be sliced into eight parts for his politically satirical writing.[4]

In the modern Chinese language, "waist chop" has evolved to become a metaphor for the cancellation of an ongoing project, especially cancellation of television programs.[citation needed]

Notable people sentenced to waist chop

See also


  1. ^ Ulrich Lau; Thies Staack (19 May 2016). Legal Practice in the Formative Stages of the Chinese Empire: An Annotated Translation of the Exemplary Qin Criminal Cases from the Yuelu Academy Collection. Brill Publishers. pp. 358–. ISBN 978-90-04-31565-5.
  2. ^ American Association for Chinese Studies (1998). American Journal of Chinese Studies. American Association for Chinese Studies.
  3. ^ "揭秘古代酷刑:"腰斩"的历史从产生到消失". Ifeng.com. 2008-07-09. Archived from the original on 2014-04-24.
  4. ^ 祝允明《野记》:“魏守(观)欲复府治,兼疏溶城中河。御史张度劾公,有‘典灭王之基,开败国之河’之语。盖以旧治先为伪周所处,而卧龙街西淤川,即旧所谓锦帆泾故也。上大怒,置公极典。高太史启,以作《新府上梁文》与王彝皆与其难。高被截为八段云。”
  5. ^ 林濤《正說清朝三百年》
  6. ^ 《清實錄雍正朝實錄》51丙申