Brill’s Encyclopedia of China

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Ancestor Worship
(958 words)

Ancestor worship has been the lynchpin of Chinese "familism". It correlates with xiao (filial piety), the cardinal Chinese virtue, for ancestor worship minimally involves and invokes proper filial compliance to the needs of deceased parents. It expresses and is importantly constitutive of family and wider kin relationships, tending to confirm patriarchal lines of authority. It is premised on the culturally crucial idea that the living males of the family are merely links in a continuum of patrilineal descent. The family extends through time, and its living representatives …

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Thompson, Stuart, “Ancestor Worship”, in: Brill’s Encyclopedia of China, Managing Editor English Edition: Daniel Leese. Consulted online on 05 December 2023 <>
First published online: 2008
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004168633, 20121018

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