Elite Lineages and the T'O-Pa Accommodation: a Study of the Edict of 495

in Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient
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Abstract

An examination of the scanty material directly bearing on social class in the state of Northern Wei in the late 5th century suggests that the system for delineating family status outlined in an edict of 495 was elitist rather than aristocratic and that its roots are to be found in Chinese society, not in the Hsien-pei tribal structure. The T'o-pa rulers may have instituted the system in order to systematize and bureaucratize social custom so as to control entry into the elite and thus ensure adequate T'o-pa representation in civil offices. The edict of 495 is also interesting for the information it offers about what may be termed bureaucratic segmentation of lineage; and finally one may infer from the wording of the edict that the T'o-pa clan structure was of the conical type.

Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient

Journal d'Histoire Economique et Sociale de l'Orient

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