Problems of Han Administration

Ancestral Rites, Weights and Measures, and the Means of Protest


Author: Michael Loewe
Michael Loewe calls on literary and material evidence to examine three problems that arose in administering China’s early empires. Religious rites due to an emperor’s predecessors must both pay the correct services to his ancestors and demonstrate his right to succeed to the throne. In practical terms, tax collectors, merchants, farmers and townsmen required the establishment of a standard set of weights and measures that was universally operative and which they could trust. Those who saw reason to criticise the decisions taken by the emperor and his immediate advisors, whether on grounds of moral principles or political expediency, needed opportunities and the means of expressing their views, whether as remonstrants to the throne, by withdrawal from public life or as authors of private writings.

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Michael Loewe, PhD, served as University Lecturer in Chinese Studies at Cambridge from 1963 to 1990. His publications range from Records of Han Administration (1967) to Dong Zhongshu, a ‘Confucian’ Heritage and the Chunqiu fanlu (2011).

"Loewe’s three-part study informs us about three aspects of the forms and workings of power during the Han period, in the Xin interregnum, and beyond. Anyone with an interest in the time or in the specific topics Loewe treats will gain from reading this book."
-Charles Sanft, University of Tennesee, Knoxville, in Journal of the American Oriental Society, 139.4 (2019)
Students and scholars in Chinese studies; university departments of history, Chinese Studies; university libraries; museums which house Chinese antiquities.