Ritual and Sincerity in Early Chinese Mourning Rituals

Submitted by James Miller on Mon, 12/24/2012 - 18:03
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TitleRitual and Sincerity in Early Chinese Mourning Rituals
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsRobinson, R.
Corporate AuthorsYates, Robin D. S.
Academic DepartmentProQuest Dissertations and Theses
Date Published2012
PublisherMcGill University (Canada)
Place PublishedCanada
ISBN Number9780494842744
Keywords0326:Cultural anthropology, 0332:History, China, SOCIAL sciences

This thesis examines the emphasis Eastern Han (24 - 220 CE) men placed on mourning their mothers and peers within the context of ritual theory and practice. The ritual texts, used as the basis for an imperial ritual reform in 31 BCE, provided instructions on how to properly perform the mourning rites, as well as whom to mourn. Full mourning was to be worn for fathers and superiors, yet in the Eastern Han, many did not heed these prescriptions, choosing in addition to mourn their mothers, equals, or inferiors, thereby subverting the traditional patriarchal model. By examining theories of ritual current in the Han, the mourning prescriptions themselves, and introducing the concept of sincerity in ritual, I argue that the changes in mourning patterns during the Eastern Han are indicative of the beginnings of a fundamental change in beliefs towards ritual and the ancestors.