Mistakes might lead to natural disasters and threaten the ruler’s throne.
Ancestral rites also were performed at the local and familial levels.
The three levels, though distinct, were viewed as an interconnected reality. A Chinese family was connected not only to their fathers and mothers of the recent past but those from the distant past.
A common belief of the time was that every family traced its origin to Huang Di (the Yellow Emperor), the mythological progenitor of the Han people.
The lineage system was vital for answering questions about origin and identity.
The third premise stated that the human body had two souls: the soul that ascends at death, the hun, and the one that stays with the corpse, the po.
It was common then, as it is today, to find ancestral temples and shrines in towns and villages dedicated to individuals, who became deities through legends surrounding their lives and deaths.
In most homes there was an altar for wood plaques or paper with the names of deceased relatives.
Key Chinese practices this essay will cover are ancestral rites and divination, the teachings of the philosophers Confucius and Laozi, and Buddhism.
Appreciating the complexity of this rich and enduring culture is crucial to understanding the beliefs that have helped to shape China’s behavior and history.