Archery Metaphor and Ritual in Early Confucian Texts

Archery Metaphor and Ritual in Early Confucian Texts

by Rina Marie Camus

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Archery Metaphor and Ritual in Early Confucian Texts explores the significance of archery as ritual practice and image source in classical Confucian texts. Archery was one of the six traditional arts of China, the foremost military skill, a tool for education, and above all, an important custom of the rulers and aristocrats of the early dynasties. Rina Marie Camus analyzes passages inspired by archery in the texts of the Analects, Mencius, and Xunzi in relation to the shifting social and historical conditions of the late Zhou dynasty, the troubled times of early followers of the ruist master Confucius. Camus posits that archery imagery is recurrent and touches on fundamental themes of literature; ritual archers in the Analects, sharp shooters in Mencius, and the fashioning of exquisite bows and arrows in Xunzi represent the gentleman, pursuit of ren, and self-cultivation. Furthermore, Camus argues that not only is archery an important Confucian metaphor, it also proves the cognitive value of literary metaphors—more than linguistic ornamentation, metaphoric utterances have features and resonances that disclose their speakers’ saliencies of thought.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781498597210
Publisher: Lexington Books
Publication date: 09/28/2020
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 132
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Rina Marie Camus teaches philosophy and experiential pedagogies at Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Table of Contents


Abbreviation & Illustrations


Literary Metaphor, A Package Deal

Chapter 1: Bow-wielding Aristocrats of Zhou

The Bow in Warfare and Sports

The Bow in Zhou Ritual Tradition

Bow Narratives & Poetry

Chapter 2: Ritual Archers in the Analects

Confucius and the Bow

The Competition of Gentlemen (An 3.7)

Hitting the Target is not the Main Thing (An 3.16)

Straight as an Arrow (An 15.16)

Chapter 3: Sharp Shooters in Mencius

Mencius and Archery in Early Warring States

The Gentleman as Sharp Shooter (M 2A.7 & 5B.1)

Teaching the Way as Archery Training (M 6A.20 & 7A.41)

Moral Failure as Faulty Aiming (M 6A.9)

Chapter 4: Fine Bows and Distant Targets in Xunzi

Xunzi and Archery in Late Warring States

Transforming Nature: Fashioning Bows from Twisted Wood

Paragons of Learning: Undividedness and Not Missing a Shot

Visions of Government: The State Needs Scholars as Much as Archers

Concluding Remarks


About the Author

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