Goran Aijmer: Ancestors and Ancestry in Southwestern China. Transforms in Tradition


This article explores some enigma of Chinese ancestor worship as they were found once in Sichuan Province of southwestern China in late traditional times. These rituals and their symbolism are subjected to an anthropological analysis resulting in some new understandings of the ethnographic data. Ancestry is shown to have been a pluralistic concept with varying semantic properties and put to use in terms of shifting cultural modalities. The outcome of the study is a tentative contribution to the explanation of the cultural grammar of Chinese ancestor worship and the wider formation of traditional Chinese society.

[China, Sichuan Province, ancestor worship, death, symbolism, cultural modalities]