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Chinese literature Unit 3 - Essay Example

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Ritual, or the codifications of our social and theological behaviour, underlines people’s class and status in society. The more familiar and adept you are at using various rituals…
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Chinese literature Unit 3
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Download file to see previous pages u’s “Praying For Rain,”1 from the Chou period, and the poem “Sitting and Forgetting,”2 from the Nine Songs, from the latter Chu period, and examine how each portray and think about ritual. The first shows a more straightforward approach to ritual—as in a kind of rain dance which is a means to an end. The second show ritual and its relation to nature as being potentially personally transformative.
In “Praying for Rain” the poet describes the rituals or etiquette that surrounds rainfall, the harvest, and agriculture. Back then there was no agricultural science. Most farmers believed that a good harvest came because the gods were happy. The harvest was hugely important for everyone because the population relied on it for nourishments. It therefore made sense that rituals and prayers that poets and priests believed would help the harvest would be of huge importance and would frequently be refined and added to in order to ensure the best possible harvest. Poetry and ritual at the time were in some sense a matter of life and death. Ku Liang Shu describes the correct time to pray for rain to improve the crops.3 He says that petitioners must wait until the last minute, until it becomes clear that the rain is absolutely necessary, before engaging in the ritual prayer. By praying, man is “asking for a favour” the poet rights. These things must not be taken lightly. The power the gods have over people is one of life and death.
There is an additional social aspect to this view of rituals: favours are important things and should be frivolously asked for. Ask only for what you need. We see in this work that rituals are taken very seriously and are mostly a way of communing with the gods, rather than with people (although there can be social implications to these rituals).
The “Sitting and Forgetting,” one of the Nine Song, focuses much more on an abstraction of the ritual and its power to transform the world or the poet’s perspective of the world. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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