The Tang Dynasty’s Female Forensic Doctor Chapter 71: Recognizing Bones
Wan Lu went out of the carriage for a while and came back to say: “Miss, it’s Provincial Governor Liu investigating the murder case, Fan Chun’s case!”
Ran Yan approached the bamboo curtain to look outside, and Wan Lu moved closer, whispering: “Miss, I heard that Miss Wei has revealed that Third Miss Yin was the instigator…”
Ran Yan tensed up and lowered her eyes, contemplating for a moment before saying: “Go to the gates of the Yamen and discreetly tell the yamen runner that the Seventeenth Miss Ran wishes to speak with Provincial Governor Liu regarding the case.”
This time, Provincial Governor Liu may not meet with her, but it wouldn’t hurt if Ran Yan gave it a try.
It would be great if she could go ahead and see him, if she can’t, then she’ll just let it be.
Wan Lu complied and went out of the carriage once again.
Ran Yan observed the tightly closed gates of the Yamen and began to recall and correlate every occurrence from the past few days, including that dream that has been plaguing her for a long time.
Yin Wanwan drowned by chentang , but why chentang? From what Ran Yunsheng said, she frequently disregarded the family rules and secretly went out to have fun. Could it be that due to the transgression of the family rules, the Yin family forced her to drown by chentang? However, with the social values of the Tang Dynasty gradually opening up, could such a cruel and feudal method of punishment really exist?
Or is it that Yin Wanwan had an intimate relation with Fourth Master Qin, making Yin Miaomiao jealous and leading her to kill Yin Wanwan? Afterwards, feeling she was unfair with Yin Wanwan, she placed all the blame in Fourth Master Qin. In the end, was her desire to drag Fourth Master Qin towards death some sort for atonement?
If it is like this, it would be hard to explain how Miss Wei and Cui Mei banded together with Yin Miaomiao to commit such crime. For what reason would she kill the maid Fan Chun? And for what reason would she kill Han Shan?
These things are just like a cluster of tangled webs; you can clearly see it but can’t find its ins and outs. However, Ran Yan was sure that Yin Wanwan’s death was the origin of everything.
“Miss, Provincial Governor Liu relayed the message to let you come in from the side entrance” Wan Lu lifted the corner of the curtain and whispered.
Ran Yan felt pleased and replied: “Then let’s go.”
Wan Lu got in the carriage and put the veil hat on Ran Yan , and then they slowly walked along the wall towards the Yamen’s side entrance. The road was packed with people, and the distance of less than one hundred meters used exactly half cup of tea of time for them to arrive at the place. [5 minutes]
After Wan Lu notified the yamen runner, the side gates opened a narrow gap, and they quickly rushed inside.
“Miss, this way please.” There was already a yamen runner waiting for them inside the gates.
Ran Yan glanced at the jammed crowd near the screen wall . She knew that this was a public trial; after all, this case had three deaths and one injured, being considered the biggest murder case in three years. Even though the Yin Fu has a lot of influence within Suzhou, Provincial Governor Liu will never dare to bend the law for personal reasons.
“Seventeenth Miss, you came at the perfect time!” Provincial Governor Liu rushed to receive her. He didn’t wait for Ran Yan to properly perform her greetings and turned to say: “Come with me, quickly!”
Ran Yan frowned and had a feeling that she was being set up by someone. But, considering that not only she herself was eager to know about the details of the case, but also has never been this conflicted about something before, she decided to follow him towards the side room.
The door was opened, and Wan Lu let out a little cry of astonishment. The interior didn’t reach two zhang [= 3,33 meters] of width, and there wasn’t any other furniture besides an unfolded cloth with a pile of muddy bones lying on its surface. The skeletons’ limbs were arranged in a disorderly position, and Ran Yan assessed that it had at least ten to twenty skeletons.
Feng Sanxun put on his gloves and squatted down to nudge some of the bones.
Provincial Governor Liu said: “You said last time that this case is related to Fourth Miss Yin’s death. Sure enough, Miss Wei has revealed that Yin Miaomiao killed Fourth Miss Yin during that year’s Qixi, and then she was thrown into the river at Pinjiang. Laofu  has checked the case’s records and discovered that an unknown female body was found in the Pingjiang river two years ago. The record said that the female body’s legs were tied by a hemp cord, and a cloth was wrapping her face. But, due to being soaked in the water for far too long, her clothes were ragged and her flesh completely putrid, so it was not possible to identify her. Then, in that year, all the nameless bodies were buried together. Laofu ordered people to dig them out. Go ahead and look, is it possible to distinguish them?”
When Provincial Governor finished speaking, his face brimmed with anticipation as he looked at Ran Yan.
Feng Sanxun was having a headache. He could barely tell the difference between the bodies of a male and a female as well as barely being able to give a rough approximation of their age range. As for other details, it was truly impossible to find them solely relying on those several bones.
Ran Yan casually ran her eyes through it and stretched her hands, saying: “Gloves.”
Provincial Governor Liu immediately ordered people to hand over a pair of gloves. Ran Yan didn’t waste any time and crouched down to identify the bones. Regardless of what was said, Yin Wanwan was a very good friend of the original Ran Yan, so Ran Yan considered this as collecting the remains of a friend. She absolutely must find Yin Wanwan.
That young girl who loved to laugh and play around lost her life at the Pingjiang river. It’s hard to understand the reason for this to happen. She was actually separated from the binding with the plunged rock and drifted towards the river surface. And yet, no one at that time was able to identify her. To clear up the wrongs imposed on her, it was necessary to pull her out from the grave she shared with others.
“What else has Miss Wei confessed?” Ran Yan was setting apart the bones as she asked.
Provincial Governor Liu personally answered: “She said that Qin Musheng forced himself on Fourth Miss Yin in that year. But Qin Musheng refused to admit to it, saying that he has never touched Fourth Miss Yin and didn’t even know how she looked like. Because there was no one at that time to testify that Fourth Miss Yin has been disgraced by Qin Musheng, and seeing that he also didn’t have an alibi, the Yin Fu could only swallow their anger, not daring to make this public, but continuing to secretly investigate the matter. Yet, two months later, before the results from the investigation were known, Fourth Miss Yin was found to be pregnant, and a month later, it gradually began to show. Fourth Miss Yin was in panic and frightened, and made an appointment with Qin Musheng on the night of Qixi, wanting to explain the matter and ask him to be responsible…”
Ran Yan felt a wave of emotion. Two years ago, Yin Wanwan was only fourteen years old. A little girl running into this type of reality and being under the Yin Fu’s strict upbringing, it really was such a dreadful thing.
Ran Yan’s eyes drooped, and an image flashed through her mind. It was that girl wearing a cherry-red ruqun standing within the fog, her appearance wasn’t clear, and her fearful voice reverberated in Ran Yan’s ears: Ah Yan, it hurts! I’m in so much pain, Ah Yan. Fresh blood oozed from under the ruqun, flowing out in a stream, transforming the dyeing cherry-red ruqun into something even more bewitching.
“Wrong!” Ran Yan suddenly said: “Ah Wan should have already miscarried before she died.”
“Eh?” Provincial Governor Liu hesitated for a moment before saying: “I’m afraid it is such. I saw the autopsy record, and it never stated that the female corpse was pregnant.”
This never being stated in the record doesn’t mean it can prove anything. From three to seven days after a person’s death, the putrefying bacteria that parasites a person’s body is rid of the defense system’s control, and it grows and multiplies itself like crazy. This surprisingly large quantity of putrefying bacteria can produce large amounts of greenish putrefying gases. The human body would then resemble a balloon filled with air: the whole body would be inflated by these putrefying gases. The power of these gases is impressive: it presses on the uterus, pushing the fetus out of the corpse’s belly, causing what is known as postmortem fetal extrusion. [link to wiki]
According to the record about the putrefaction stage, Yin Wanwan’s body was in the water for at least a month. Perhaps after childbirth, for some reason, the fetus was either separated from the body or decomposed.
Ran Yan’s thinking that the miscarriage happened before death was entirely due to that dream. She believes that the dream is a fragment of the original owner’s memory! When Yin Wanwan miscarried, the original Ran Yan was definitely by her side.
Looking at the pile of bones in front of her, Ran Yan lifted her head towards Feng Sanxun to say: “Can I trouble old gentleman Feng to help me divide these bones into two piles, male and female?”
Feng Sanxun was quite pleased with Ran Yan’s polite words. He was a great admirer of Ran Yan’s autopsy skills, and would never have imagined that when the whole city was condemning and denigrating her on account of her autopsies, she still dared to come over and touch the bones of the dead. A woman of integrity. Feng Sanxun refused to admit defeat and, therefore, unreservedly cooperated with his actions.
The separation of the bones based on their sexes wasn’t regarded as something difficult.
The male pelvis is taller and narrower, the face bones are thicker, the muscle attachments are more defined, and their bones are overall heavier. The female pelvis is lower and wider, the face bones are more delicate, the muscle attachments aren’t so defined, and their bones are overall lighter.
These characteristics are best determined in terms of cranial bones. The male skull is bigger and heavier, the face bones are uneven, its muscles lines are more defined, and the cranial wall is thicker. The female cranial wall is precisely the opposite of the male’s.
Going through these few characteristics, the two worked together and quickly divided some of the easiest discernible parts into two piles of male and female.
 Chentang is the type of punishment Ran Yan mentions in chapter 69: ” Yin Wanwan’s appearance while she sank in the pond, the cloth wrapping her face, her feet tied to a bamboo basket, a stone inside the bamboo basket; this and the ancient folklore of sinking people in the pond, that is, the ‘drowning someone in a wicker basket’ type of thing, aren’t they awfully similar? ” I had translated as ‘sinking people in the pond’, but here I’ll leave it as chentang. ↺
 Laofu = a form of self-adress used by an old man. ↺