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A Selection of Jao Tsung-i’s Essays in Religious Studies
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Discover China's rich spiritual history through the monumental works of polymath Jao Tsung-i, presented in English for the first time. Throughout his far-reaching discussions of Chinese religious history ranging from prehistoric ancestor worship to Daoist immortality cultism and beyond, Jao’s studies draw upon an immense range of sources, including stele inscriptions, excavated manuscripts, and prehistoric artifacts. Engage with the very best of 20th-century Chinese-speaking sinology and gain new insights into China’s fascinating history of spiritual traditions. This tour de force in Chinese religious history is a must-read for anyone seeking to unravel the complexities of China's intersecting spiritual traditions.
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Why did the "Shandong Question" vanish in the May Fourth narrative? How did conservatives and traditionalists endure admist the progressive wave of the new culture movement? What role did Confucian ritualism and religion play in shaping May Fourth literature? Is an uncanny connection hidden between “Return Qingdao” and “Liberate Hong Kong”?

This volume, edited by Carlos Yu-Kai Lin and Victor H. Mair, and with contributors from across the fields of intellectual history, literature and languages, philosophy, and Asian studies, answers these questions and offers new insights into the May Fourth movement. It explores this pivotal historical event both as a singular occurrence and as a sustaining cultural-intellectual campaign. The new volume is brimming with fresh perspectives, uncovering these enigmas, and unveiling the nuanced and intricate world of the May Fourth to its discening readers.
The Field of Ritual Learning in Early Imperial China 9 to 316 CE
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The political and cultural power of Confucianism is nowhere more apparent than in ritual. Confucian-educated officials proficient in Ritual Learning shape the ritual institutions that express dynastic legitimacy.
This book follows the workings of Ritual Learning during the first three centuries of the Common Era, a time marked by three dynastic changes and difficult recovery of the ritual order under new regimes. Contrary to common understanding, the Eastern Han is a time of flux, uncertainty, and neglect in Confucian ritual forms, and the following third century is an era when Confucian dominance over imperial ritual crystallized as never before.
The Concept of the Chinese Nation in Modern Times
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This book is the first and only English-language edition of Huang Xingtao’s Reshaping China, translated by Lane J. Harris and Mei Chun.

In this landmark text, Huang Xingtao uses a cultural approach to the history of ideas. He traces the complex contours in the discursive debates around the concept of the Chinese nation (Zhonghua minzu) from its origins in the late Qing; through the pivotal moment of the 1911 Revolution; into the contentious revolutionary upheavals of the 1920s, amidst the national crisis brought on by Japanese invasions in the 1930s; and culminating in the widespread acceptance of the concept during the Civil War. By the late 1940s, the Chinese nation came to represent the idea that all peoples within the country, whatever their ethnicity, were equal citizens who shared common goals and aspirations.
China and the Parthians, Sasanians, and Arabs in the First Millennium
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What type of exchanges occurred between West and East Asia in the first millennium CE? What sort of connections existed between Persia and China? What did the Chinese know of early Islam?
This study offers an overview of the cultural, diplomatic, commercial, and religious relationships that flourished between Iran and China, building on the pioneering work of Berthold Laufer’s Sino-Iranica (1919) while utilizing a diverse array of Classical Chinese sources to tell the story of Sino-Iran in a fresh light to highlight the significance of transcultural networks across Asia in late antiquity.
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Abstract

Having both similarities with and differences from dao , yi is an important concept which occupies an important position in early Daoist thought. As is the case with dao, “oneness” can also be traced back to the Laozi and subsequently went through a complex process of conceptual change. As a foundational concept, it serves as a description of dao while also referring to the innermost basis for the emergence and unity of everything that exists. As the foundation of the dao of political authority and effective governance, “oneness” refers to a basic principle and method which the ruler should grasp and put into practice 執一, but also designates an elementary goal and value in the ruler’s own process of self-cultivation 貴一. In comparison to the idea of dao, the concept of “oneness” approaches the relation between the one and the many as entailing a rich variety of relations of identity/difference and commonality/diversity which manifest themselves within the myriad things and affairs in the world in a more direct manner.

Open Access
In: Journal of Chinese Humanities
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Abstract

The “Wuji” section of the Tsinghua Bamboo Slips offers great insight into the pre- modern Chinese philosophical landscape. At the heart of this section lies the concept of zhong (mean), which is intricately woven into the fabric of the tiandao (the way of Heaven) and the rendao (the way of man). This concept is reflected in the “wuji” and the “wude,” embodying the pinnacle of political principles and the ideal outcome of governance. The notion of the mean transcends traditional Confucian values such as zhong (loyalty) and xin (trustworthiness), encompassing qualities of centrality, equality, justice, impartiality, and abundance. It is revered as an absolute and sacred principle, serving as both a coveted goal and the most effective means to achieve it. To fully grasp the implications of “the mean” in the “Wuji” section of the Tsinghua Bamboo Slips, a fresh examination of received texts such as the Yizhoushu, Analects, Guanzi, and Heguanzi, as well as excavated texts like the “Baoxun” and “Xinshi weizhong” of the Tsinghua Bamboo Slips, and the Huangdi sijing of the Mawangdui Silk Texts, is warranted.

Open Access
In: Journal of Chinese Humanities
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Abstract

Several studies have addressed the question of whether the people of early China wrote with thin bamboo strips held in their hands or whether they wrote with the support of flat desks. However, scholars have not addressed the distinction between jian (bamboo strips) and larger du (wooden tablets) in everyday writing. In early China, tablets would be held in the hand to write, while strips would be laid flat on a writing desk. Tablets were the main medium of everyday writing during the period spanning the pre-Qin and Western and Eastern Han dynasties. In the drafting of various literary texts, taking court records, and taking classroom notes, tablets were the primary writing medium. Among written materials from before the Western Han dynasty, duan zhang (short passages) were the most common style of writing, and most texts were composed of short passages. Among the early Chinese manuscripts that have been unearthed, short passages are also very common. However, almost no one has raised the question of why a documentary system dominated by short passages was formed in the pre-Qin and Western and Eastern Han dynasties period. The number of characters that a writing tablet can accommodate essentially coincides with the number of characters in short passages in early Chinese manuscripts. In view of its wide use, I propose that the formation of the short passage form was potentially influenced by the material writing medium of the tablet.

Open Access
In: Journal of Chinese Humanities
Author:

Abstract

The silk manuscripts of Huang-Lao, unearthed at the Mawangdui Han Tombs, articulate a theory that advocates nurturing penal virtue through the prioritization of virtue before punishment. Many scholars have used Han Fei’s concept of xingde-erbing 刑德二柄 to explain the theory and give it context. Contrasted with Legalism, represented by Shang Yang and Han Fei, which emphasizes rewards and punishments – with Shang Yang advocating punishment before reward – the Huang-Lao doctrine extends beyond this dichotomy. It notably diverges in its exploration of the relationship between the heavens and humanity, as well as theories on motivations underlying human nature. Han Fei’s concept of the xingde-erbing fundamentally aligns with Shang Yang’s approach to governance through the mechanisms of punishment and reward. Moreover, Han Fei’s notion of yindao quanfa 因道全法 posits that sovereigns, by governing according to universal principles and fully understanding the law, can ensure state peace and deter major crimes. However, this concept is distinct from Huang-Lao thought, which does not share the same ideological framework as the reward-punishment methods of Shang Yang and Han Fei. The analogous approach of the prioritization of virtue before punishment found in Guanzi, which stresses that wise and virtuous monarchs govern by aligning their decrees with the natural progression of the seasons, is closely aligned with Huang-Lao philosophy. The present analysis clarifies the longstanding intellectual debates between Huang-Lao and Legalism, affirming the distinctiveness of Huang-Lao’s penal virtue theory and illuminating the conceptualization of the heaven-human relationship during the Warring States period.

Open Access
In: Journal of Chinese Humanities