University of Washington Press
Forming the Early Chinese Court builds on new directions in comparative studies of royal courts in the ancient world to present a pioneering study of early Chinese court culture. Rejecting divides between literary, political, and administrative texts, Luke Habberstad examines sources from the Qin, Western Han, and Xin periods (221 BCE-23 CE) for insights into court society and ritual, rank, the development of the bureaucracy, and the role of the emperor. These diverse sources show that a large, but not necessarily cohesive, body of courtiers drove the consolidation, distribution, and representation of power in court institutions. Forming the Early Chinese Court encourages us to see China's imperial unification as a surprisingly idiosyncratic process that allowed different actors to stake claims in a world of increasing population, wealth, and power.
Table of Contents:
Chronology of Dynasties and Han Reign Periods
Introduction: Forming the Early Chinese Court
Part One Rituals
1. Sumptuary Regulations and the Rhetoric of Equivalency
2. Who Gets to Praise the Emperor?
Part Two Spaces
3. Parks, Palaces, and Prestige
Part Three Roles
4. Politics, Rank, and Duty in Institutional Change
5. The Literary Invention of Bureaucracy