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Title: Deciphering a tool of imperial rule : a case study of the marriage rituals of imperial princes during the Hongwu reign (1368-1398)
Author: Zhan, Beibei
ISNI:       0000 0004 6061 7459
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis analyses the changes in the marriage rituals of imperial princes applied during the founding reign of the Ming dynasty (Hongwu 1368-1398). With an ultimate ambition of deciphering the texts of institutionalised rituals, this thesis examines the patterns of, rationales for and influences behind the changes that were made. Similar to those from other periods, the texts of rituals produced during the Hongwu reign utilised terms and procedures that were derived from both the classics and ritual precedents. I contend that these terms and procedures form symbols of rituals. While, on one hand, the stability of these symbols themselves was key to maintaining the impression of the continuity of ritual, on the other hand, the contexts of the symbols were manipulated so as to implant significant innovations. Combining methodological approaches from textual studies, anthropology and history, this thesis investigates such innovations at different time points during the reign. From the first year to the eighth year, the Hongwu emperor gradually seized the power over ritual from the Confucian officials. He then went on to implement his own version of ideal government and put efforts into both the civil and military aspects of government. The marriage rituals were a co-product of these two aspects. In particular, the symbols of state hierarchy such as imperial ancestral shrines and the conferment of the titles were adapted for the later versions of the marriage rituals so that the emperor could define the respective positions of the his sons and their in-laws in the hybrid of his family and state. This thesis argues that changes to the meanings of the marriage rituals were connected with the emperor's developing strategies responding to the specific events in the political process. Furthermore, the Hongwu innovations provided the basis for the further ritual advancement of subsequent periods.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral