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9 The Liu Clan’s ‘Flesh and Bone’: The Foundation of Liu An’s Vision of Empire

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Chapter Summary

The vision of empire outlined in this chapter endorses the model implemented by the most noteworthy progenitor of the Liu clan's 'flesh and bone'. Specifically, part of the empire is to be governed by means of a commandery system, yet the majority of the realm, including the kingdom of Huainan, would continue to be administered through the traditional practice of enfeoffing the Liu kinsmen. Therefore, "Discourses on the Boundless" emphasizes that what distinguishes Emperor Gaozu and his reign from the current leadership and present circumstances of Liu An's time was his ability to adapt, both innovatively and efficaciously, in accord with the exigencies of the age. Indeed, this capacity to change with the times is highly valued in "Discourses on the Boundless" and in the Huainanzi as a whole. Michael Puett explains that, historically, there were 'ambivalent consequences' of these technological and cultural innovations according to the Huainanzi's authors.

Keywords: Emperor Gaozu; Huainanzi; kingdom of Huainan; Liu An; Liu clan's flesh and bone; Liu kinsmen; Michael Puett; vision of empire



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