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Clan, ancestral hall, and sacrifice in the Song Dynasty

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image of Frontiers of History in China

The Song Dynasty is the most important period in Chinese history in terms of the establishment of a new type of clan system. During the Song, Chinese social organization, at the grass-roots level, experienced a fundamental change. In the wake of the late-Tang collapse of the local power system, it was necessary for the Song to replace the ancestral lineage structure and develop a new system to adapt itself to the new circumstances brought on by drastic changes in its economy. Song Confucians played a vital part in the changes. Not only did they gradually solve the theoretical problems of the new type of clan organization, but they also developed many feasible and standard models. Eventually this model would gain even wider acceptance after the Yuan Dynasty with the rise of Neo-Confucianism. Thus, ancestral halls, serving as the major centers for the new clan activities, became prevalent among common people.


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