A Short History of Chinese Art

By Hugo Munsterberg | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
The Art of the Middle and Late Chou Periods

HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL BACKGROUND

Although for the first century and a half of its rule the house of Chou was not creative artistically, the Chou people almost at once made great contributions in the political realm which were to remain the very basis of Chinese society for many centuries. Under the Chou rulers, China was organized into a confederacy of feudal states in which each feudal lord held his fief, at least nominally, in the name of the king who was known as the "Son of Heaven". He, in turn, had a divine mandate and was subject to recall any time he did not do the will of Heaven and live up to his obligations as the supreme arbiter between Heaven and the Chou people. His function, then, was religious as well as political, for he served both as high priest and supreme ruler of "the world under heaven", as the Middle Kingdom was called. All the princes of the various states owed him homage and offered him tribute, and when at court were bound by a strict ceremony which indicated

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