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Birth in ancient China : a study of metaphor and cultural identity in pre-imperial China /
Constance A. Cook and Xinhui Luo.
Albany : State University of New York Press, [2017]
xiv, 158 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.
1438467117, 9781438467115
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Albany : State University of New York Press, [2017]
contents note
Introduction: A Chu Text -- 1. Words and Images -- Chu Ancestral Names and the Word for Birth -- A Lost Word for Birth -- Suggestive Images -- 2. Controlling Reproduction : Fertility Prayers -- Zhou Fertility Prayers in Zhou Bronze Inscriptions -- A Warring States Prayer Preserved on Bamboo Strips -- 3. Mothers and Embryos -- Gestation -- 4. Controlling the Pregnant Body -- Time and Divination -- Curses -- Sequestering -- A Question of Thorns -- 5. Divine Origins and Chu Genealogical History -- Gender Bending -- 6. The Traumatic Births of Non-Zhou Ancestors.
Using newly discovered and excavated texts, Constance A. Cook and Xinhui Luo systematically explore material culture, inscriptions, transmitted texts, and genealogies from BCE China to reconstruct the role of women in social reproduction in the ancient Chinese world. Applying paleographical, linguistic, and historical analyses, Cook and Luo discuss fertility rituals, birthing experiences, divine conceptions, divine births, and the overall influence of gendered supernatural agencies on the experience and outcome of birth. They unpack a cultural paradigm in which birth is not only a philosophical symbol of eternal return and renewal but also an abiding religious and social focus for lineage continuity. They also suggest that some of the mythical founder heroes traditionally assumed to be male may in fact have had female identities. Students of ancient history, particularly Chinese history, will find this book an essential complement to traditional historical narratives, while the exploration of ancient religious texts, many unknown in the West, provides a unique perspective into the study of the formation of mythology and the role of birthing in early religion.
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Includes bibliographical references and index.

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