Gods, spirits and demons of the kingdom of Chu (6th-3rd century BC)

lecture by Alain Thote, Alain Thote, director of studies EPHE, IVe Section, Art and Archeology of Pre-Imperial China.

In pre-imperial China, the kingdom of Chu is certainly the country whose material culture has been best preserved to the present day because of very favorable conservation conditions. In addition, this region of the middle course of the Blue River (Yangzi) experienced an unprecedented territorial expansion and economic boom during the Warring States era (around 481-221 BC). Its richness is particularly evident in the furniture of tombs excavated by archaeologists. On the one hand, the funerary context proves particularly conducive to the study of beliefs in the hereafter. On the other hand, the objects discovered in the burials of the kingdom give us in their decoration various representations of the deities to which a cult was then rendered. Finally, records on bamboo cards bring us insights into the divinatory practices and bonds that the inhabitants of Chu maintained with their ancestors. We will try to explore this living world of gods, spirits and demons by relying on the latest archaeological discoveries.

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