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Bronze Inscriptions, The Shijing And The Shangshu: The Evolution Of The Ancestral Sacrifice During The Western Zhou

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Chapter Summary

By the time of the late Shang the ancestral sacrifice was the pre-eminent religious institution of the elite. By the end of the late Shang, the genealogical records extended back for twenty-one generations of ancestors who could receive regular sacrifices. This deeply felt presence of the past and orientation toward the former kings further intensified under the subsequent Western Zhou dynasty. They consist of two principal sets of texts, one transmitted and the other archaeologically recovered: the transmitted texts are a series of ritual hymns preserved in the Book of songs (Shijing) as well as about a dozen royal speeches preserved in the Book of documents (Shujing or Shangshu). Distinct and independent from the transmitted texts of the Songs and the Documents, the by now very large number of excavated Western Zhou bronze inscriptions are available to us in their original shape.

Keywords: ancestral sacrifice; bronze inscriptions; late Shang; Shangshu; Shijing; Western Zhou dynasty



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