By John Lagerwey, Marc Kalinowski
Jointly, and for the 1st time in any language, the 24 essays accumulated in those volumes supply a composite photo of the background of faith in historical China from the emergence of writing ca. 1250 BC to the cave in of the 1st significant imperial dynasty in 220 advert. it's a multi-faceted story of fixing gods and rituals that comes with the emergence of a kind of “secular humanism” that doubts the lifestyles of the gods and the efficacy of formality and of an imperial orthodoxy that founds its legitimacy on a contrast among licit and illicit sacrifices. Written via experts in a number of disciplines, the essays conceal such topics as divination and cosmology, exorcism and drugs, ethics and self-cultivation, mythology, taboos, sacrifice, shamanism, burial practices, iconography, and political philosophy.
Produced less than the aegis of the Centre de recherche sur les civilisations chinoise, japonaise et tibétaine (UMR 8155) and the École Pratique des Hautes Études (Paris).
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Additional resources for Early Chinese Religion, Part 1: Shang Through Han (1250 BC -220 AD)
But these early glimpses into the spiritual underworld nowhere suggest that the sins of the ancestors could be passed on to future generations. The Han-era Neijing փᆖ (Classic of internal medicine) contains no infixation or corpse disease, but a Sui (589–617) text contains 99 different kinds of such disease! In between, Tao Hongjing ຯؖནʳ (456–536 AD) distinguishes it as an “internal disease” caused by “outside perversities” (waixieʳ ؆ߵ)—ghosts—quite different from “externally arising diseases” caused by wind or cold.
In this new supreme cult, the Yellow Emperor was shifted to the southwest, corresponding to the “middle” of the year, and Taiyi took his place in the center. As already mentioned, the Ru were very much involved in the debates under Wudi about these ritual innovations, seeking to convert the Taiyi sacrifice into one to Heaven, the emperor’s “father,” and thereby to make of it a kind of ancestor worship. But they lost out to the fangshi and did not gain the upper hand until Wang Mang, who addressed the now suburban sacrifice to Huangtian Shangdi Taiyi ֚Ղ০֜ԫ: Great One, Lord on High of Brilliant Heaven.
The rationalization process—the creation of a kind of “unified field theory” built on the notion of qi—ran parallel to and no doubt to a certain degree reflected ongoing economic and administrative rationalization. That this is so may be seen from the fact that, from 300 BC on, we begin to catch glimpses of an underworld bureaucracy for the dead comparable to that which is also emerging above ground. The fact the dead, in this context, were not ancestors in heaven with power to help but ancestors underground with power to harm may explain as well the increasing concern to create for them a new home and to ensure, by various means such as “spirit artifacts” and exorcism, their separation from the living.