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State And Local Cults In Han Religion

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Chapter Summary

The ruler, as Son of Heaven, was to honor this divine father by conforming to the ancestral rituals inherited from the Zhou dynasty. In addition, the rules of the ancestral cult authorized sacrifice only to one's own ancestor, and therefore the Son of Heaven alone could offer sacrifices to his celestial father. The religious practices of first Han emperors were not fundamentally different from those of the Qin. The sacrifices celebrated by Emperor Huan for Laozi, associated with Huangdi, or to Wangzi Qiao, whom the chapter discusses, were all inspired in part by popular devotion. In the ancient model two systems had co-existed: either the emperor did as Gaozu and gathered at court the local cults and their officials, or he conducted ritual in person or by delegation at the site of sacrifice, as Emperor Wen did when he built a shrine at Weiyang, where Five Emperors had manifested themselves.

Keywords: ancestral rituals; celestial father; Emperor Huan; Gaozu; Han emperors; Laozi; local cults; sacrifice; Wangzi Qiao; Zhou dynasty

10.1163/ej.9789004168350.i-1312.118
/content/books/10.1163/ej.9789004168350.i-1312.118
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