Divination, Mythology and Monarchy in Han China

Overview

Chinese empires were established by force of arms, but sustained by religious rites and intellectual theory. The four centuries from 206 BC to AD 220 witnessed major changes in the state cults and the concepts of monarchy, while various techniques of divination were used to forecast the future or to solve immediate problems. Michael Loewe examines these changes and the links between religion and statecraft. While both mythology and the tradition nurtured by the learned affected the concept and practice of ...
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Overview

Chinese empires were established by force of arms, but sustained by religious rites and intellectual theory. The four centuries from 206 BC to AD 220 witnessed major changes in the state cults and the concepts of monarchy, while various techniques of divination were used to forecast the future or to solve immediate problems. Michael Loewe examines these changes and the links between religion and statecraft. While both mythology and the tradition nurtured by the learned affected the concept and practice of monarchy throughout the period, the political and social weaknesses of the last century of Han rule bring into question the success that was achieved by the imperial ideal. Nevertheless, that ideal and its institutions were of prime importance for the understanding of Han times and for the influence they exercised on China's later dynasties.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Readers of this volume will be richly rewarded by the breadth and depth of Professor Loewe's scholarship. Divination, Mythology and Monarchy in Han China is also a stimulating introduction to important issues concerning Han intellectual and religious history and well illustrates the kind of penetrating cultural analysis that is possible with the adept use of both traditionally received texts and evidence from the archeological record." Journal of Chinese Religions

"A very valuable source of rich information....Because of rapid changes in the field, we welcome more of this kind of work, that is, collections of proven scholarship that reflect the accumulated wisdom of a veteran scholar." Cho-Yun Hsu, American Historical Review

"Shows how the study of the Han period has developed in the past few decades. This impressive collection is of value to scholars and students of Chinese religion, history, and culture." Religious Studies Review

"Anyone who prefers faddish jargon to lucid exposition is advised to look elsewhere." Journal of Interdisciplinary History

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Product Details

Table of Contents

List of figures
Preface
Acknowledgements
List of abbreviations
Introduction: the history of the early empires 1
1 Man and beast: the hybrid in early Chinese art and literature 38
2 Water, earth and fire: the symbols of the Han dynasty 55
3 The Han view of comets 61
4 The authority of the emperors of Ch'in and Han 85
5 The term Kan-yu and the choice of the moment 112
6 Imperial sovereignty: Tung Chung-shu's contribution and his predecessors 121
7 The cult of the dragon and the invocation for rain 142
8 Divination by shells, bones and stalks during the Han period 160
9 The oracles of the clouds and the winds 191
10 The Almanacs (Jih-shu) from Shui-hu-ti: a preliminary survey 214
11 The Chueh-ti games: a re-enactment of the battle between Ch'ih-yu and Hsuan-yuan? 236
12 The failure of the Confucian ethic in Later Han times 249
13 The imperial tombs of the Former Han dynasty and their shrines 267
List of Han emperors 300
Glossary 302
Bibliography 317
Index 343
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