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Emperor Ch'ien-Lung and the Reconstruction of Manchu Tradition: A Case Study of Family Shaman Rituals
Based on the study of Shaman rituals in Manchu families, this project aims to investigate the way Emperor Ch’ien-lung tried to solve the problem of deviation from tradition among the Manchu people through the establishment of norms, explore the cultural significance of the new norms as well as discuss their influences on Manchu society. In 1747, Emperor Ch’ien-lung ordered the officials to compile Rituals of the Manchu Sacrifices to Ancestral Spirits and to Heaven, Imperially Ordained (《欽定滿洲祭神祭天典禮》) in Manchu language to standardize the rituals among the court, the nobility and the common Manchu families for the purpose to reconstruct a Manchu tradition. This influence was so prevalent that almost every clan had its own “ritual book.” Till 1777, Emperor Ch’ien-lung issued the command to translate the book into Han language, including the eulogy, which was supposed to be chanted in Manchu language, either through phonetic or literal translation. Such an act deserves more discussion. It is noteworthy that in circumstances when Emperor Ch’ien-lung had the chances to interpret the concept of “tradition,” he more than once cited Han ancient classics as his theoretical foundations. Furthermore, he would like to make analogies between the Chinese ancient codes and the Manchu ones, which could also be observed in the officials’ discussion. Whether it is an implication of the Manchu’s sinicization that prompts the emperor and the officials to regard the Han culture as their model, or a principle proposed by Emperor Ch’ien-lung to deem that the Manchu and Han cultures are in effect homologous and then followed by the officials, needs to be further clarified. This is a two-year project. In the first year, I’d like to annotate the Manchu version of Rituals of the Manchu Sacrifices to Ancestral Spirits and to Heaven, Imperially Ordained as well as to compare the very text in Manchu and Han versions. Based on this, I will make further comparisons of the Manchu and Han versions of the “ritual books” among the clans of Silin Gioro, ŠuŠu Gioro, Niohuru, Gioro, and Gūwalgiya, for the purpose to better understand the degree of influence of official ceremony on Manchu family rituals. In the second year, I will write a paper on this topic, focusing on the comparisons and analyses of 1. Emperor Ch’ien-lung’s remarks on Manchu tradition, 2. the standarizationof Manchu family rituals, and 3. the influence of official ceremony on family rituals.
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