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Ancestor Worship During The Eastern Zhou

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Chapter Summary

Sacrifice and divination records, both material and textual, show that the practice of ancestor worship-a ritual practice involving the deification of select human spirits-was linked to maintaining a stable political and social hierarchy in an agrarian Zhou society. This chapter documents the fall of the Zhou-style system and the ceremonies used to uphold the system, with an emphasis on regional variations and the manipulation of iconic Zhou ceremonies for the worship to non-Zhou deities. The Eastern Zhou preoccupation with the institution of feng was tied up with the creation of founder ancestors and sites to worship them. The word itself had a number of different meanings, but the most common Eastern Zhou meanings were related not only in terms of the notion of creating a sanctified area within distinct borders but in terms of creating a space for ancestor and founder worship.

Keywords: ancestor worship; divination; Eastern Zhou; ritual practice; sacrifice; Zhou-style system



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