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The Interweaving of Rituals: Funerals in the Cultural Exchange Between China and Europe: Book by Nicolas Standaert

The Interweaving of Rituals: Funerals in the Cultural Exchange Between China and Europe

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ISBN: 9780295988238    Publisher: University of Washington Press Year of publishing: 2008     Format:  Paperback No of Pages: 336        
The death of the Italian Jesuit Matteo Ricci in China in 1610 was the occasion for demonstrations of European rituals appropriate for a Catholic priest and also of Chinese rituals appropriate to the country...Read more
The death of the Italian Jesuit Matteo Ricci in China in 1610 was the occasion for demonstrations of European rituals appropriate for a Catholic priest and also of Chinese rituals appropriate to the country hosting the Jesuit community. Rather than burying Ricci immediately in a plain coffin near the church, according to their European practice, the Jesuits followed Chinese custom and kept Ricci's body for nearly a year in an air-tight Chinese-style coffin and asked the emperor for burial ground outside the city walls.Moreover, at Ricci's funeral itself, on their own initiative the Chinese performed their funerary rituals, thus starting a long and complex cultural dialogue in which they took the lead during the next century. "The Interweaving of Rituals" explores the role of ritual - specifically rites related to death and funerals - in cross-cultural exchange, demonstrating a gradual interweaving of Chinese and European ritual practices at all levels of interaction in seventeenth-century China.
This includes the interplay of traditional and new rituals by a Christian community of commoners, the grafting of Christian funerals onto established Chinese practices, and the sponsorship of funeral processions for Jesuit officials by the emperor. Through careful observation of the details of funerary practice, Nicolas Standaert illustrates the mechanics of two-way cultural interaction.His thoughtful analysis of the ritual exchange between two very different cultural traditions is especially relevant in today's world of global ethnic and religious tension. His insights will be of interest to a broad range of scholars, from historians to anthropologists to theologians. Nicolas Standaert is professor of Sinology at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium. He is the author of "Yang Tingyun, Confucian and Christian in Late Ming China: His Life and Thought" and editor of "Handbook of Christianity in China: Volume 1, 635-1800".
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Review:
This book is an outstanding work of original scholarship. Standaert uses a huge range of published and unpublished materials in many European languages as well as in Chinese. Several of the texts...Read more
This book is an outstanding work of original scholarship. Standaert uses a huge range of published and unpublished materials in many European languages as well as in Chinese. Several of the texts he discusses, such as the set of Chinese Christian funeral instructions from Guangdong Province, will be new to nearly all China scholars and are likely to be of great interest in themselves for the study of Chinese rituals and practices. The interpretation is original and the scholarship is so strong that one would be hard put to disagree with the conclusions." Henrietta Harrison, Harvard University "The Interweaving of Rituals is one of the most surprising books on Chinese history that I have ever read. The author's command of sources in Chinese, Latin, and vernacular European languages is exemplary. It is a book of immense erudition, worn lightly." Timothy Brook, University of British Columbia "Nicolas Standaert's impressive research on funerary rites in China and Europe in the seventeenth century shows again that we cannot use a universal recipe in the study of cultural exchanges. The Interweaving of Rituals also provides a theoretical and methodological framework that may trigger a fruitful debate between East- Asia specialists." - European History Quarterly, Vol. 43 No. 3, 2013
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