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Ancient Chinese society developed a sophisticated and complex bureaucracy which is still in operation today and which had its pristine form in the government of the Western Zhou from 1045 to 771 BC. Li Feng, one of the leading scholars of the period, explores and interprets the origins and operational characteristics of that bureaucracy on the basis of the contemporaneous inscriptions of royal edicts cast onto bronze vessels, many of which have been discovered quite recently in archaeological explorations. The inscriptions clarify the political and social construction of the Western Zhou and the ways in which it exercised its authority. The discussion is accompanied by illustrations of the bronze vessels and their inscriptions, together with full references to their discovery and current ownership. The book also discusses the theory of bureaucracy and criticizes the various models of early-archaic states on the basis of close reading of the inscriptions.Read more
- Redefines the bureaucracy of Ancient Chinese society during the Western Zhou period
- Includes high-quality new images of Western Zhou bronzes and their inscriptions
- Contains full bibliographical data for 230 of the most important bronzes, including information on discovery, current ownership and a summary of their inscriptional content
Reviews & endorsements
"Based on meticulous analysis of the inscriptions, produced to commemorate politically important occasions, the author ably delineates the administrative structure of the Zhou royal domain and subordinate states to the east. An invaluable appendix lists all known Zhou official posts. Li is to be applauded for giving attention to the theoretical implications of his research … Highly recommended."
ChoiceSee more reviews
"Bureaucracy and the State in Early China is a most welcome addition to the studies of China's preimperial history. In this meticulous study, Li Feng introduces the institutional and administrative history of the Western Zhou period (1046–771 BCE), one of the most important - and rarely addressed - stages of the formation of Chinese civilization. This book crowns Li's series of earlier studies of Western Zhou history, most notably Landscape and Power in Early China … making him the single most prolific writer on this topic."
The Journal of Asian Studies
"Li's handling of evidence is masterly throughout and his ideas are fresh and controversial. His chapters are filled with fruitful insights."
Robert Eno, American Historical Review
"… Bureaucracy and the State in Early China will become a standard reference book for Western Zhou studies in the West for years to come."
The Journal of Asian Studies
"The core of Li's project is the description of early government in China based predominantly on archaeologically recovered source materials, avoiding the problems of a historiography based on questionable received texts, above all Zhouli. This is an ambitious, important and difficult undertaking, and its success deserves great respect … Li also gathers and translates much primary material not previously available in English, and in an Appendix he provides a useful list of Zhou offices, including translated titles and brief description of each post. His work will thus be of interest for students and scholars of early Chinese history both for its arguments and as resource."
Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society
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- Date Published: October 2012
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9781107405844
- length: 400 pages
- dimensions: 244 x 170 x 21 mm
- weight: 0.64kg
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
1. The historical context
2. Structural development of the Zhou central government
3. The administrative process of the Zhou central government
4. Managing the core: local society and local administration in the royal domain
5. Official service and career development during the Western Zhou
6. The regional states and their governments
7. Reconceptualizing the Western Zhou state: reflections on previous theories and models
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