Brill’s Encyclopedia of China

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(899 words)

Death rites have long been the most complex and expensive of Chinese life-cycle ceremonies. Chinese mortuary practices (funeral customs) have been traced back to the Neolithic and Early Bronze ages. The imperial Chinese state made it legally compulsory for those kin related to the deceased according to the wu fu (five grades of mourning attire) to mourn in a manner prescribed by Confucian orthodoxy; failure was punishable by severe corporal punishment or worse. The structure and sequence of funeral rites has displayed impressive uniformity bot…

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Thompson, Stuart, “Death”, in: Brill’s Encyclopedia of China, Managing Editor English Edition: Daniel Leese. Consulted online on 07 December 2023 <>
First published online: 2008
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004168633, 20121018

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