Divination, Mythology and Monarchy in Han China

Divination, Mythology and Monarchy in Han China

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

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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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  • Hardback | 376 pages
  • 157 x 234.4 x 26.9mm | 689.47g
  • 29 Aug 2005
  • CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS
  • Cambridge
  • English
  • New.
  • 18 b/w illus.
  • 0521454662
  • 9780521454667

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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

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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.

show more