2012 New History
P. O. Box 1-44, Nankang, Taipei 11529, Taiwan, R. O. C.
02-2782-9555 # 226

Diversification and Unification in Ancient Chinese Society:  An Analysis of the Intersection of Politics and Culture

Cheng-sheng Tu

Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica

This paper analyzes both unique and universal features of culture during the ancient Chinese political system’s progression from multiplicity to unity. Both the power of politics in shaping culture and the degree of independence the culture may hold are examined. The paper is divided into eight parts. The first part shows that according to the theory of “division in unity” recently popularized in China, the tendency for unification was greater than that for division. The second part deals with how “Zhongguo (central state)” was conceptualized during the Warring States period, originating from the nine zhou of “Shangshu, Yugong.” The paper will focus on issues within these ancient geographic boundaries. The third part discusses the multiplicity of Neolithic cultures within this geographical area. The fourth part examines the “proto-state” stage when local characteristics were strong and unity of the area weak. The fifth part discusses the urban center period, when standardization emerged and became systematic. Political forms, however, remained diverse. The sixth part studies the variations of bronze vessel styles in the metropolis and its peripheries. The seventh part discusses the complex relationship between political unification and cultural conformity in the latter Warring period, using burial rituals and Day Books as examples. Finally, the last part shows how the military and administration necessarily led and sustained the so-called “sinicization” process.


Key Words: China, type of area and lineage, pre-state period, local style