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Literati And Community

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Chapter Summary

Inscriptions make frequent enough reference to bureaucratic procedures to suggest that literati often viewed local temples as offering administrative opportunities. Inscriptions allowed them to demonstrate to an imagined audience at the central capital their ability to implement central commands locally, and execute instructions with regard to the promotion of orthodox, and the proscription of illicit, temples. Despite such readings of inscriptions, this book argues that literati authors saw temples as much more than that. The basic assumption of the book is the constant need for literati to (re-)assert their position in society. It has been established in much of the scholarship on Chinese social history that the social status of the literati was by no means constant. One of the themes that have emerged in studies of Chinese local society is the centrality of temples, and the religious practices associated with them, to the structure and coherence of local society.

Keywords: community; literati; religious institutions; Southern Song



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