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Centering The Realm: Wang Mang, The Zhouli, And Early Chinese Statecraft

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Chapter Summary

This chapter addresses a basic problem: why would a text like the Rituals of Zhou, which purports to describe the administrative structure of the Western Zhou 周 dynasty, come to be employed by Wang Mang 王莽 and, later, Wang Anshi 王安石 in projects of strong state centralization? It discusses the argument of the Zhouli in relation to other claims being made about state organization in early China. The chapter examines a set of texts that became important in very late Western Han politics, namely several of the chapters of the Records of Ritual. The Zhouli, like the Lüshi chunqiu, Shangjun shu, and Han Feizi, may well have been written in the context of the emergence of centralized forms of statecraft in the late Warring States period. But, unlike the sacrifice chapters of the Liji, the Zhouli clearly supports a form of overt centralized rule.

Keywords: Liji; Records of Ritual; Wang Anshi; Wang Mang; Zhouli



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