Royal Hospitality and Geopolitical Constitution of the Western Zhou Polity

in T'oung Pao
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Abstract

The present article examines how political communication and administration were effected in the Western Zhou polity (1046/5-771 BC) and investigates the significance of the royal residences as political and administrative centers. Bronze inscriptions referring to royal receptions that were offered to Zhou regional rulers, rulers of non-Zhou polities, royal officers and other subjects provide the basis for this study. It is argued that the form of "royal hospitality" described in these inscriptions was a political and, partially, administrative institution of the Zhou kings, and that its territorial localization both reflected and defined the geopolitical constitution of the polity. The article concludes by arguing that in the "larger Zhou polity" embracing the regional states of the zhuhou, political communication was decentralized, and that none of the royal residences held the status as political "capital" throughout the entire period. It is further found that a process of territorial centralization was underway in the territories under the direct control of the king, and that the oldest royal residence Zhou-under-Qi was gradually established as political and administrative capital.

Royal Hospitality and Geopolitical Constitution of the Western Zhou Polity

in T'oung Pao

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