Working for His Majesty: The zhong and the ren of the Late Shang Dynasty
David N. Keightley
Monday, December 02, 2002
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
10383 Bunche Hall
The way in which Late Shang divination and kingship were linked is nowhere better demonstrated than in the mobilization and employment of the dynasty's manpower. The oracle-bone inscriptions reveal a dynastic elite that paid considerable attention to matters of personnel selection, the issuing of orders, the choice of strategies, the validation of choices made, and the recording of many of these complex concerns, all within the structure of a system of religious belief that set great store on good order, on a generational hierarchy, on contractual sacrifices, and on proper observance of jurisdictions. The paper ends with a consideration of the factors in ancient China that help to account for this routine and large-scale employment of human labor by a central, proto-bureaucratic Shang elite.
David N. Keightley is Professor of History Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, where he taught between 1969, the year he received his PhD from Columbia University, and 1998. While at Berkeley he served as Chair of the Center for Chinese Studies, Chair of the History Department, and Interim Director of the East Asian Library. He is the author of Sources of Shang History: The Oracle-Bone Inscriptions of Bronze Age China (1978) and The Ancestral Landscape: Time, Space, and Community in Late Shang China (ca. 1200-1045 B.C.), and editor of The Origins of Chinese Civilization (1983). He also wrote the chapter on the Shang dynasty for the Cambridge History of Ancient China (1999). One of the editors and founders of the journal, Early China, he is the author of numerous articles on Neolithic and Bronze-Age China, with particular attention to the Shang dynasty (ca. 1500 to 1050 B.C.). Keightley is currently at work on a book called Divining the Shang: Kingship and Religion in Bronze-Age China.
For more information please contact
Sponsor(s): Center for Chinese Studies