Taiwan Lecture on Chinese Studies: Prof. Chen Hsi-yuan

Taiwan Lecture on Chinese Studies: Prof. Chen Hsi-yuan

26/09/2018 Tana Dluhosova Events, News, Prague

hen Hsi-yuanResearch Fellow Professor Chen Hsi-yuan from the Institute of History and Philology of Academia Sinica will be the speaker at the 4t Taiwan Lecture on Chinese Studies entitled “DifferentFacesof State Confucianism: TheState LiSacrificeand theGhostFestival in Late ImperialChina”

Time: October 16, 2018

Venue: Premises of our partner the International Sinological Center of the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation at the Charles University in Prague, room 118, Celetna 20, Prague 1


The sacrificial altars were the nucleus of the official religious system in imperial China.Ideally, through a series of sacrificial rituals performed on the altars, the local government prayedon behalf of the Emperor for divine protection and demonstrated their care for the people’s lifefrom cradle to grave. In comparison with the Altar for Land and Grain in the west, theAltar for the natural Deities in the south, and the Altar for thespirits of Agriculture in the east, the Altar for the dead who did not receive any sacrifices in thenorth was arguably the most popular one which served as the very center to host annual ghostfestivals.

By using the lisacrifice in Suzhou (prefecture) as a case study, my presentationproposes to exploremultifarious dimensions of State Confucianism in term of the local altar system practiced oneach county and prefecture level. The ambiguous role of the city god whosymbolically officiated the lisacrifice will be accordingly examined since His supernatural powerwas legitimately endorsed by the Stateand enthusiastically worshipped by the populace. Moreover,special attention will be paid to the dynamic interactions between the state rites and popularreligions. When the people in Suzhou went out to “watch the fair” for the unworshippedghosts, they did not really expect to encounter any of the wandering souls. What they really sawand enjoyed was a raucous spectacle drawing large crowds of people. And they were part of it.Ironical as it may sound, the official cult designed originally for the dead without descendants’sacrifice had turned out to be a popular carnival for the living without social or genderdifferentiation.


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