Text and Ritual in Early China
Edited by Martin Kern
- $29.95s paperback (9780295987873) Add to Cart
- hardcover not available
- Published: 2008
- Subject Listing: Asian Studies, Literary Studies
- Bibliographic information: Orig. pub. 2006. 362 pp., bibiog., index, 6 x 9 in.
In Text and Ritual in Early China, leading scholars of ancient Chinese history, literature, religion, and archaeology consider the presence and use of texts in religious and political ritual. Through balanced attention to both the received literary tradition and the wide range of recently excavated artifacts, manuscripts, and inscriptions, their combined efforts reveal the rich and multilayered interplay of textual composition and ritual performance. Drawn across disciplinary boundaries, the resulting picture illuminates two of the defining features of early Chinese culture and advances new insights into their sumptuous complexity.
Beginning with a substantial introduction to the conceptual and thematic issues explored in succeeding chapters, Text and Ritual in Early China is anchored by essays on early Chinese cultural history and ritual display (Michael Nylan) and the nature of its textuality (William G. Boltz). This twofold approach sets the stage for studies of the E Jun Qi metal tallies (Lothar von Falkenhausen), the Gongyang commentary to The Spring and Autumn Annals (Joachim Gentz), the early history of The Book of Odes (Martin Kern), moral remonstration in historiography (David Schaberg), the “Liming” manuscript text unearthed at Mawangdui (Mark Csikszentmihalyi), and Eastern Han commemorative stele inscriptions (K. E. Brashier).
The scholarly originality of these essays rests firmly on their authors’ control over ancient sources, newly excavated materials, and modern scholarship across all major Sinological languages. The extensive bibliography is in itself a valuable and reliable reference resource.
This important work will be required reading for scholars of Chinese history, language, literature, philosophy, religion, art history, and archaeology.
Martin Kern is associate professor of East Asian studies at Princeton University. The other contributors are William G. Boltz, K. E. Brashier, Mark Csikszentmihalyi, Joachim Gentz, Michael Nylan, David Schaberg, and Lothar von Falkenhausen.
“This is an outstanding work. The essays focus on the overlap and interplay between ritual performance and the uses of texts in late pre-imperial and early imperial China . . . and are of central importance to our understanding of ‘classical’ Chinese society.” - Mark Edward Lewis, Stanford University
“This collection points out the necessity of rethinking ancient Chinese texts, and therefore ancient Chinese culture and history, in light of what we now know about the material origin of those texts and the ritual world in which they took form. It is a major statement on the way certain new discoveries and new methodologies are changing the way we conceive of early China.” - Stephen Durrant, University of Oregon