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Priests and Their Main Functions in the Western Han (206 BC—AD 9)

ФИО студента: Meerim Aitimbetova

Руководитель: Dmitry Khudyakov

Кампус/факультет: Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs

Программа: Asian Studies (Bachelor)

Год защиты: 2020

The history and the development of China is connected with its religion and religious cults. Therefore, priests of local and state cults who held religious authority and could participate in decision-making process had been regarded as important players during the Han period. Although there has been considerable research into the role of different groups of priests during Spring and Autumn period (722 – 481 BC), no study has been reported about the changes in their functions in the Western Han period (206 BC – AD 9). The goal of this study is to identify the hierarchy among five groups of priests [zhu (祝), bu (卜), zong (宗), shi (史), wu (巫)] and to determine the main functions and responsibilities of these priests in the Western Han period. For this purpose, a mixed-methods research design was employed. First of all, we translated some fragments from the chapter “Annals” (“Book of Han”) and from the “Book of Rites” into Russian. Then, we explored the functions of priests by using content analysis of translated parts. Next, the frequency of mentions of certain priests’ groups was calculated. Finally, the author made attempts to determine the hierarchy among the priests in the Former Han and to establish the link between the frequency of mention of certain priests’ group and the influence of those people at court. The findings of this research may have significant implications for those who are interested in the history, religion and philosophy of ancient China. Likewise, our results may be of use to scholars who undertake studies in the related areas of political studies, history, community and religion. Based on our results, other researchers can continue to study the role of priests during subsequent dynasties’ reign. Keywords: religion, priests, Former Han, Western Han.

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