Chinese Religions: the EBook by Mario Poceski

By Mario Poceski

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Yu is also credited with the establishment of the first Chinese dynasty, the mythical Xia dynasty. According to tradition, he left the dynastic throne to his son, which became a model that was followed by subsequent royal houses. 14 1 | Early Patterns of Chinese Religious Life The Five Emperors (wudi) • The Yellow Emperor (Huangdi) • Zhuanxu • Yao • Shun • Yu the Great The three sagely kings of antiquity, together with the Yellow Emperor and his somewhat obscure grandson Zhuanxu, are often grouped together and identified as the Five Emperors (see box).

29 2 | The Classical Confucian Tradition The Five Classics • Book of Songs (Shijing), an anthology of verses from the early Zhou through the Spring and Autumn periods. • Book of Change (Yijing), a manual of divination from the Zhou dynasty, with Han-era additions. • Book of Documents (Shujing), a chronological collection of speeches, proclamations, and stories about ancient rulers from the pre-Zhou and Zhou periods. • Spring and Autumn Annals (Chunqiu), a chronicle of the state of Lu up to the time of Confucius.

Consequently, the departed royal ancestors had influence on what was happening among the living. Moreover, as their primary living descendants, the Shang kings had access to them and were able to tap into their knowledge and power. Death essentially marked a change in existential status that to some extent redefined the relationship between members of the same family lineage, namely the lineage of the royal house. Or to put it differently, while death did not alter the fundamental nature of kinship relationships—a person remained the son of his deceased father, for instance— it brought about significant changes in the channels of communication that linked the two parties, as the living had to resort to rituals means such as sacrifice in order to commune with their departed relations.

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