Midterm_ - Topic B Heaven and Ancestors Since the Neolithic period ancient Chinese people valued jade for its beauty and durability Many

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Topic B March 14, 2008 Heaven and Ancestors Since the Neolithic period, ancient Chinese people valued jade for its beauty and durability. Many archaeological findings of jade artifacts dating as early as from 3500 BCE clearly manifest their fascination in jade and its everlasting quality. (LS, January 19, “Jade Artifacts”) The Chinese love for continuity and endurance does not stop at cherishing long- lasting material objects such as jade and gold. The ancient Chinese civilization developed a culture that especially venerated traditions and ancestors. Such tradition includes the recognition of supernatural or omnipotent power in the political realm in the form of the Mandate of Heaven. Another major tradition was ancestor worship, and not only a few members of the ruling class but almost all social strata of the Chinese civilization were very involved in it. Therefore, the Mandate of Heaven and ancestor worship played integral roles in formulating the early Chinese states and maintaining functional political entities. The rulers of ancient China claimed that they possessed the Mandate of Heaven and legitimatized their regimes. Since the very conception of Chinese civilization under the banner of the Shang dynasty, the Chinese ruling class honored the supernatural powers, as recorded in many oracle bones and plastrons used for divination. The Shang king would seek for permission from their high god, Di, for any state matters or small personal affairs. For example, in one of the Shang oracle bones, the divination was whether “Di approves the king” or “does not approve the king.” (CC, 5) The Shang kings’ privilege or attempt to communicate with spirits who wielded power over the people also endowed them with
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certain power over commoners who had no access to such great spirits. Since the earliest times, the Shang rulers derived their authority to rule over the common people by gaining
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This essay was uploaded on 03/31/2008 for the course ASIAN 2212 taught by Professor Mcneal,r&rusk,b during the Spring '08 term at Cornell University (Engineering School).

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Midterm_ - Topic B Heaven and Ancestors Since the Neolithic period ancient Chinese people valued jade for its beauty and durability Many

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