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Chapter Summary

This is the introductory chapter for the book, which deals with a multidisciplinary endeavor, devoted to archaeology, philosophy, divination, sacrifice, mythology and many other specialized topics about Chinese history. The book gives a nuanced historical gradation about the early Chinese ancestor worship for what it was: an expression of political power and legitimacy that was by definition sumptuary and therefore emphatically not an integral part of some kind of universal, unchanging Chinese religion. The multiplicity of disciplinary approaches, assumes, namely, that religion is more about the structuring values and practices of a given society than about the beliefs of individuals. Two basic approaches that some consider incompatible are present in the essays published here: the historical/material and the anthropological/ideational.

Keywords: archaeology; Chinese ancestor worship; Chinese history; Chinese mythology; Chinese religion



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