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Tsing Hua Journal of Chinese Studies
ISSN 0577-9170; DOI 10.6503/THJCS


Pre-Qin Dynasty Land Worship, Harvest Rituals, and Their Transformation

Vol. 39 No. 4   12/2009    


Pre-Qin Dynasty Land Worship, Harvest Rituals, and Their Transformation  


Lin, Su-chuan  









Key words

land worship, harvest rituals, Gaomei (高禖) animal sacrifice, rebirth, primitive thought


 This article discusses Pre-Qin Dynasty land worship and harvest rituals from the perspective of primitive thought, cosmology, religious beliefs, ethics, and ritual politics. In the first section, I analyze the relationship between harvest rituals, primitive thought, and metaphor, and then I discuss the relationship between the cyclical nature of the universe, rebirth, worship, and church and state. The second section discusses the harvest rituals, whicha symbolize the cycles of birth and rebirth. Through the analysis of Gaomei (高禖) sexual relations, weddings, and birth ceremonies, I interpret their relationships with land worship and the life force of the universe. In the third section, I examine such topics as autumn and winter sacrifices, where an animal's blood, organs, and head are used to revive the life force of the universe and to increase crop yields; and the use of animal sacrifices to transfer guilt to others. It becomes clear that the ceremonies of birth and death are two sides of the same coin. Returning to chaos symbolizes the temporary disappearance of civilization, which causes the structural and anti-structural processes of nature, society, and human relations to be renewed and adjusted. Thus, the life force of the universe is reborn ceaselessly. I conclude by discussing the transformation and influence of land worship and harvest rituals.



Author: Lin, Su-chuan
Genre: Article
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