Divination, Mythology and Monarchy in Han China

Divination, Mythology and Monarchy in Han China

Hardback University of Cambridge Oriental Publications

By (author) Michael Loewe, Series edited by Faculty of Oriental Studies

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  • Publisher: CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS
  • Format: Hardback | 376 pages
  • Dimensions: 157mm x 234mm x 27mm | 689g
  • Publication date: 25 November 1994
  • Publication City/Country: Cambridge
  • ISBN 10: 0521454662
  • ISBN 13: 9780521454667
  • Edition statement: New.
  • Illustrations note: 18 b/w illus.

Product description

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 traditions 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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Review quote

"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

Back cover copy

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.

Table of contents

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