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Ten Thousand Names: Rank and Lineage Affiliation in the Wenxian Covenant Texts


Williams, C (2009). Ten Thousand Names: Rank and Lineage Affiliation in the Wenxian Covenant Texts. Asiatische Studien / Études Asiatiques, 63(4):959-989.

Abstract

The following paper looks at evidence of rank distinction and lineage affiliation among participants in a covenant recorded on tablets excavated at Wenxian 溫縣, Henan province, and dated to the fifth century BC. The covenant is in the form of a loyalty oath to a leader, taken to be the head of the Han 韓 lineage, one of the ministerial families of Jin 晉. The text of the covenant is written in ink on stone tablets, each individualized with the name of a covenantor. Tablets with this particular covenant text were found in five separate pits. The number of tablets in each pit ranged from several dozen to more than 5000. The stone-type and shape of the tablets varied within and among pits. I argue that these variations are evidence of distinctions in rank among the covenantors. I discuss a set of four related names from the tablets that appear to support this conjecture. I then look at names, of both covenantors and enemies, in which a lineage name is found. I argue that these names show that it was loyalty to the Han leader, not shared lineage affiliation, which was the main requirement for participation in the covenanting group. I conclude with a brief discussion on the size of the covenanting group, lineages within political groups, and the wider significance of these materials.

The following paper looks at evidence of rank distinction and lineage affiliation among participants in a covenant recorded on tablets excavated at Wenxian 溫縣, Henan province, and dated to the fifth century BC. The covenant is in the form of a loyalty oath to a leader, taken to be the head of the Han 韓 lineage, one of the ministerial families of Jin 晉. The text of the covenant is written in ink on stone tablets, each individualized with the name of a covenantor. Tablets with this particular covenant text were found in five separate pits. The number of tablets in each pit ranged from several dozen to more than 5000. The stone-type and shape of the tablets varied within and among pits. I argue that these variations are evidence of distinctions in rank among the covenantors. I discuss a set of four related names from the tablets that appear to support this conjecture. I then look at names, of both covenantors and enemies, in which a lineage name is found. I argue that these names show that it was loyalty to the Han leader, not shared lineage affiliation, which was the main requirement for participation in the covenanting group. I conclude with a brief discussion on the size of the covenanting group, lineages within political groups, and the wider significance of these materials.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:Journals > Asiatische Studien / Études Asiatiques > Archive > 63 (2009) > 4
Dewey Decimal Classification:950 History of Asia
Language:English
Date:2009
Deposited On:20 Feb 2010 14:36
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 13:59
Publisher:Schweizerische Asiengesellschaft / Verlag Peter Lang
ISSN:0004-4717
Related URLs:http://www.sagw.ch/de/asiengesellschaft/publikationen/Asiatische-Studien.html (Publisher)
http://www.peterlang.com/index.cfm?vID=86850&vLang=D&vHR=1&vUR=4&vUUR=11 (Publisher)
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-31870

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