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Offices Of Writing And Reading In The Rituals Of Zhou

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Chapter Summary

This chapter suggests that the Rituals of Zhou is a text of at least two very distinct layers: composed in Warring States/early imperial language, it conforms to early imperial ideals of universal order and matches accounts of scribal culture of that time. Writing clearly reached a fundamentally new status with the early empire, but this status pertained not so much to bureaucratic records (which just multiplied with the needs of the imperial state) as to the developing commitment to enshrine the hallowed tradition - especially the Five Classics (wujing) and the various genres of commentaries and essays arranged around it - in a fixed written form. The early passages from the Poetry and the Documents as well as numerous examples of Western Zhou bronze inscriptions show the high-ranking scribes of the royal court in precisely the functions attributed to them in the Rituals of Zhou.

Keywords: high-ranking scribes; Rituals of Zhou; Western Zhou



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