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Taboos: An Aspect Of Belief In The Qin And Han

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Chapter Summary

The taboos of the Qin and Han are the complex product of popular belief and the theory of interaction between heaven and humans. Involving not only primitive shamanistic thought and taboos concerning the gods but also the regular cycles of the shensha and of the production and conquest of the five agents, it reflects the multi-faceted nature of belief in ancient China. This chapter, by organizing the fragmentary evidence concerning taboos into the three categories of humans and the universe, humans and humans, and humans and the gods, has sought to sketch a relatively clear picture of those beliefs. The study of taboos enables us to go behind the great tradition of the erudite to uncover what people in Qin-Han society believed. In part these beliefs reflect the age-old primitive beliefs and social experience of antiquity, in part their transformation by the ethics and theorizing of the erudite tradition.

Keywords: ancient Chinese beliefs; Birth taboos; Han taboos; marriage taboos; Qin taboos; time taboos



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