Han Scholars’ Three Dynasties Cultural Theory

Peng Mei-ling
September 2014
Hanxue Yanjiu (Chinese Studies);Sep2014, Vol. 32 Issue 3, p1
Academic Journal
Following the cultural decline of the Zhou and ruthless rule of the Qin, Han dynasty scholars’ major task was to restore the great cultural lineage of the Three Dynasties. The efforts of scholars such as Dong Zhongshu ..., Sima Qian ..., Liu Xin ..., Ban Gu ..., He Xiu ..., and Zheng Xuan ... all deal with the cultural and historical experience of those earlier times and attempt to identify the rules that were used to govern human affairs. Collectively their work can be referred to as the Three Dynasties Cultural Theory ... of the Han dynasty. This theory draws on the historical experience of the Xia, Shang, and Zhou dynasties to produce formulations that gradually evolved into a system of governing by decree and educating the populace that was essential to the successful establishment of a new dynasty. It covered resetting the calendar, regulating dress codes and transportation for rites, inventing words and symbols, changing instruments used in rites, music, and battles, and establishing new ritual and ceremonial dress codes. This paper discusses Han scholars’ Three Dynasties Cultural Theory, aiming to understand Han dynasty perspectives on history, time, government, and culture, as well as to study the similarities between the Gongyang Commentary on the Spring and Autumn Annals ... and Book of Rites ....


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