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"5)'If anything is central to the creation and maintenance of a unified Chinese culture, it is the standardization of ritual.' (Watson) Discuss"
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Further research into how the Chinese have been able to create and maintain a unified culture has provided varying results. According to James Watson and Evelyn Rawski’s book Death Ritual in Late Imperial and Modern China, the creation and maintenance of a unified Chinese culture were enabled by the standardization of rituals. The following study will provide evidence to justify this statement by evaluating several depictions of ancient and modern Chinese culture.
Watson and Rawski (1988, p. 4) define [Chinese] cultural unification as the acceptance and adherence to set ritual routines by ordinary citizens. Standardization on its part, was the way in which these cultures were made known, proper and acceptable. They further reveal that standardization, which contributed to cultural unification, was in most cases voluntarily taken up by citizens without the use of force. As such, any Chinese aspects seen in the world today are by-products of the ancient processes of ritual standardization. Ritual in Watson and Rawski’s case is defined an active process of transforming something from one state into another wherein “something” could refer to things, people, or other beings. Again, rituals have a transformative power (4).
Funerals had a uniform structure of rites that were practiced all over China, and particularly during the Late Imperial Era. Although it is not widely practiced in China today, some areas such as Hong Kong and Taiwan still practice them. Watson and Rawski (1988, p.7) state that the rites were standardized and practiced all over China, and they in turn played the role of “cultural” cement that bound the Chinese community together. In standardizing burial rituals, the Chinese believed that in death, the body and soul should not be allowed to separate before a ritual was done. It was said that if this happened, the community would experience some form of disaster. Again, they standardized the belief that death should not separate couples
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