The history of the green declarations from the Tang dynasty through the Sung dynasty

Submitted by James Miller on Wed, 05/14/2014 - 16:40
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TitleThe history of the green declarations from the Tang dynasty through the Sung dynasty
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsYan, Y.
Corporate AuthorsKleeman, Terry
Academic DepartmentProQuest Dissertations and Theses
Date Published2009
PublisherUniversity of Colorado at Boulder
Place PublishedAnn Arbor
ISBN Number9781109579215
Keywords0305:Asian literature, 0332:History, Asian literature, Green declarations, History, Language, literature and linguistics, Ritual text, SOCIAL sciences, Sung, Tang, Taoism

The green declaration originated as one kind of ritual texts for imperial ancestral worship in the Tang dynasty, exclusively for Laozi worship at the Palace of Greta Purity, his official shrine. Yet finally it became an exclusive Daoist ritual text from the late ninth century and survived till today. The green declarations got the name because they were written on green rattan paper and in vermillion ink, which hold the connotation of imperial power transmitted through heavenly mandate. The rituals offered in the Palace of Great Purity followed the way of ancestral worship. This tradition even continued in the Sung dynasty. The writing structure of the green declarations also imitated that of other ritual texts for state sacrificial or memorial ceremonies but had clearer layers. The Tang examples have four sections: a preface, a narrative part, a prayer and a complimentary close. The standard format of Sung green declarations has an extra preaching part, between the preface and the narrative part. The preface and the closing remark are highly formalized, just filled in with information about the ritual every time. The body part adopted a special literary genre, parallel prose. This writing style kept unchanged in the extant examples. Many people easily confused the green declarations with other Daoist announcements although they have different titles. It is notable that they have been the only Daoist ritual text that should be written and announced by the patrons themselves. The actual practice, however, did not stick with these requirements rigorously. Literators had been ghostwriters and Daoist priests can deputize to announce in unofficial rituals. Yet Daoist priests must not compose the green declarations for patrons. That can explain why green declarations were only found in literati anthologies but not in Daoist repository. Very strikingly, the Sung green declarations demonstrated the view of celestial destiny, which was in accord with the ideological fashion of neo-Confucianism at that time. In general, from the Tang through the Sung dynasty, the use of the green declarations showed tendencies toward more freedom and diversification. Their writings got more individualization. Their contexts became more flexible.