Kinship, Marriage and Politics in the Light of Ritual Bronze Inscriptions from 11-8 cc. BCE

The present proposal investigates the interaction between Early Chinese principalities amongst themselves and with the Zhou royal house during 11th-8th cc. BCE, aiming at the understanding of the political organization of Early China against the background of its specific social structures. It bases on the analysis of the inscriptions on bronze ritual vessels on one hand, and of the archaeologically investigated tomb complexes of some principalities dating from that period, which reflect the social structure of the local societies and allow for the chronological attribution as well as the historical-anthropological and historical-geographical contextualization of the epigraphic material.

The proposal focuses on the following questions: How the principalities interacted among themselves? How were they connected to the Zhou royal house? How did members of the Zhou network communicate to their politically autonomous neighbours? Which roles kinship and marital relations played in these relationships? Which other factors, such as the organization of warfare and competition for prestige, facilitated interaction in the Early Chinese political space? The representations of the political order of the Early China based on traditional historiography will be critically evaluated and an explanatory model based on the recently discovered source materials and corresponding to the newest state of research will be elaborated. The project results shall be published as a monograph.
Map: Early Chinese polities, ca. 9 c. BCE >>
Model of the inter-polity interaction in Early China (ca. 11-8 c. BCE) >>
Related publications:
  • “The Tombs of Peng Rulers and Relationships between Zhou and non-Zhou lineages in Northern China (up to the early 9th c. BC),” in Shaughnessy, Edward L. (ed.), Imprints of Kinship: Studies of Recently Discovered Bronze Inscriptions from Ancient China (Hongkong: Chinese University of Hong Kong Press), in print (see final manuscript )
  • “Marital Alliances and Affinal Relatives (sheng 甥 and hungou 婚購) in the Society and Politics of Zhou China in the Light of Bronze Inscriptions,” Early China 37 (2014): 1-61.