Entombed Epigraphy and Commemorative Culture in Early Medieval China

A Brief History of Early Muzhiming

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In Entombed Epigraphy and Commemorative Culture Timothy M. Davis presents a history of early muzhiming—the most versatile and persistent commemorative form employed in the elite burials of pre-modern China. While previous scholars have largely overlooked the contemporary religious, social, and cultural functions of these epigraphic objects, this study directly addresses these areas of concern, answering such basic questions as: Why were muzhiming buried in tombs? What distinguishes commemorative biography from dynastic history biography? And why did muzhiming develop into an essential commemorative genre esteemed by the upper classes? Furthermore, this study reveals how aspiring families used muzhiming to satisfy their obligations to deceased ancestors, establish a multi-generational sense of corporate identity, and strengthen their claims to elite status.

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Timothy M. Davis, Ph.D. (2008) Columbia University, is an assistant professor of Chinese history at Brigham Young University. He specializes in the social, cultural, and literary history of medieval China.
All interested in the social, cultural, literary, and religious history of early medieval China and anyone concerned with the commemoration of the dead in pre-modern societies.