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Negotiating Rites$
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Ute Husken and Frank Neubert

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199812295

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199812295.001.0001

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Negotiating Rites in Imperial China

Negotiating Rites in Imperial China

The Case of Northern Song Court Ritual Debates From 1034 to 1093

Chapter:
(p.99) 5 Negotiating Rites in Imperial China
Source:
Negotiating Rites
Author(s):

Christian Meyer

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199812295.003.0005

The chapter is based on a thorough examination of numerous materials of official court documents concerning prominent cases of “ritual debates” in the middle period of the Northern Song dynasty (960-1127). The debates were centered around the important Chinese matter of “li” which can be translated in Western languages as ritual, but for other aspects also as moral pattern of behavior. Ritual matters, especially those concrete court rituals discussed here, were subject to the expertise of the Confucian educated scholars based on the canonical classics on the one hand, but represented imperial power on the other hand. Imagined to originate from the normative past, they were highly symbolically charged, and therefore matter of permanent negotiation between the emperor, different groups of educated officials as well as scholars outside the court and the “public”. The materials, mostly so called memorials to the throne along with additional writings, can show that the well-known factional struggles till the end of the Northern Song dynasty were clearly connected to the discussion of rituals, however, a position in the ritual debates could also run counter to the usual front lines of factional struggles.

Keywords:   ritual debates, northern Song dynasty, educated officials, memorials to the throne

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