China and Inner Asia

Organized Panel Session

3 - A Study on the Yuegonglü Based on Newly Excavated Materials from Yangzhou

Friday, March 23
10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Location: Roosevelt Room 1, Exhibit Level

Accounts in Han texts state that Wudi (r. 141-87 BCE) once ordered his minister, Zhang Tang, to draw up a statute concerned with the management of royal palaces. Unfortunately, these “Statutes on Palace Trespassing” (Yue gong lü 越宫律) became fragmented and over time were almost entirely lost. Qing scholars recovered fragments in transmitted texts, but the lack of sources has made study of the “Statutes on Palace Trespassing” next to impossible. Those studies that do exist have emphasized the role played by the statutes in Wudi’s project of imperial centralization. One scholar in particular has argued that the statutes were meant to distinguish practices of imperial palace management from those of the regional kingdoms, with the goal of glorifying and stressing the superior status of the emperor vis-à-vis the kings. Fortunately, several memorials excavated in 2015 from a site near Yangzhou, Jiangsu, allow us to reassess the “Statutes on Palace Trespassing.” This paper presents a detailed study of these memorials in order to test previous understandings. Though the excavated sources suggest that the Qing reconstructions were by and large accurate, they also demonstrate that the regional kingdoms also adopted the rules outlined in the statutes. As a result, we cannot assume that the statutes were designed to elevate the status of the emperor. Rather, whether by design or by accident, they helped mark and solidify membership within the larger imperial family. 

Zhaoyang Zhang

Shanghai Jiaotong University, Not Applicable, China

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3 - A Study on the Yuegonglü Based on Newly Excavated Materials from Yangzhou



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