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Papers from the Fourth International Conference on Sinology: Commoners in Ancient China


Liang Qichao once criticized that none of the historical records in Imperial China recorded the life of commoners, but only the life of the imperial families and their courts.  With the recent popularity in the research of social history, scholars had been keen in filling in this gap, but were often constrained by the limited number of historical sources.  Newly discovered documentations and archeological data, however, has brought new lights to the field.  This volume presents a discussion on the life of commoners in Imperial China, with the help of newly discovered bamboo slips and silk books, and focuses on four issues: (1) how was political will enforced among the commoners: a study on the social structure and the interaction between the commoners and bureaucrats with the help from old household registries; (2) civil association and daily life: a study on the materialistic aspect of life in the past; (3) cultural aspects of the life of a commoner: a study of the literacy rate among commoners; (4) rituals and beliefs: a study of the funeral rituals and the imagination of the afterlife.   In sum, through discussions of these issues, this volume provides some valuable and new images of the life of commoners in Imperial China.

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