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Ritual In Everyday Life and Imperial Palace

Robert Oxnam :: Ritual permeates all levels of social interaction in Confucian China.

Irene Bloom :: There are all kinds of rituals governing all aspects of life, the great moments of life: Birth, capping (which is a coming of age ceremony for boys), marriage, death. So there are rituals also which apply to many other aspects of life as well, not just the great moments of human life but many of the smaller and more ordinary interactions of human life.

Robert Oxnam :: At the pinnacle of the social order in imperial China was the emperor, the Son of Heaven, who performed rituals designed to preserve the cosmic order.

Myron Cohen :: There was in fact a board of ritual, as part of the imperial government. And the emperor himself was deeply involved in ritual throughout the year.

The emperor, for example, there would be the annual worship of heaven, which was the most important day of the imperial ritual calendar.

Now it was not only heaven that was worshiped. It was also the emperors of previous dynasties that were worshiped, and it was also the ancestors of the emperor that were worshiped.

Insofar as the emperor was worshiping his own ancestors, he was being a good Chinese Confucian. He was doing what everyone else in China was doing. Insofar as the emperor worshiped the earlier emperors of earlier dynasties, he was proclaiming the continuity of the imperial institution, above and beyond the rise and collapse of particular dynasties. He was giving legitimacy to the imperial institution itself. Insofar as the emperor worshiped heaven, he was expressing his privileged position as the son of heaven.