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Combining The Ghosts And Spirits, Centering The Realm: Mortuary Ritual And Political Organization In The Ritual Compendia Of Early China

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Chapter Summary

The Liji (Book of rites), Yili (Rites and ceremonies) and Zhouli (Rites of Zhou) would become, in later Chinese history, the three most significant classics from early China for defining ritual behavior. The ritual compendia are a tremendously rich repository of material for historical, theoretical, and comparative work. This chapter analyzes the notions of rituals that are presented in these texts, discusses why such notions were developed and analyzes how and why the texts came to prominence over the course of Han and subsequent periods. It focuses in particular on mortuary rituals and rituals of statecraft. It gives overview of the nature, structure, and arguments of the three texts. It then focuses on one theme, namely, mortuary rituals, and compare how the different texts approach the topic. Next it turns to a concrete example dealt with by all three texts: views of mortuary rituals and political order in the texts.

Keywords: China; ghosts; Liji (Book of rites); mortuary rituals; political order; Ritual Compendia; spirits; Yili (Rites and ceremonies); Zhouli (Rites of Zhou)



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