This research investigates the antient Chinese after-life concepts through analyzing the documents of funeral service and burial, for example Gaodice(the gaodi text, 告地策)․"tomb contract"(買地券)․"grave quelling contract"(the Zhenmu wen, 鎭墓文, ...
This research investigates the antient Chinese after-life concepts through analyzing the documents of funeral service and burial, for example Gaodice(the gaodi text, 告地策)․"tomb contract"(買地券)․"grave quelling contract"(the Zhenmu wen, 鎭墓文, in Han dynasty.
It is clear in the Gaodices and tomb contracts how the imperial power concretely regulated the deceased. The Gaodices is a kind of documents that messengers of death submit to the underground officials in order to confirm the deceased's entrance to the underground world is legitimate. In gaodices, the officials in the living world ask to the officials in the underground world the administrative procedures necessary for the transfer of the deceased, family members, slaves and livestock between two world. Besides, Their administrative procedures imitate carefully prepared regular official documents in the world of the living and census registers for the deceased in the underground world followed the same steps as the moving in the living world. Consequently, for the Han people, the death is only the phenomenon seperating the sprit from the body and the entrance to the underground world from the living world. However, the same principles rule the both world, that are one of the imperial reign system.
Tomb contracts are the documents that certify the deceased to pay and buy the house and the land in the underground world. Through this contracts, the deceased can establish rightful ownership of the land of the tomb which was said typically to have been acquired from some diety. As tomb contracts is authenticated documents submitted to the underground official(the local earth god, 地神) for the eternal ownership. Tomb contracts carry the dates of purchases, names of buyers, names of sellers, the locations of the lands, the prices, the confirmation of the ownership about the attached materials to the land, the names of guarantors and the quantities of liquors spent in the process of contracts. The format of tomb contacts is identical to the land contracts in the real world. Finally, the gods of the land, like the god of Dixiaerqianshi地下二千石, received the contracts documents as the completion of the contract, whose roles is equal to those of the officials in the land contract of the living world. There are far more the gods of the land playing the role of officials in the tomb contracts than in the Gaodices.
Finally, grave quelling contracts are texts to appeal for Tiandi天帝 and Huangdi黃帝 to protect the deceased from the evil spirits and to prevent the deceased from returning to the former residence to haunt for the living offsprings' welfare. The underground world depicted in grave quelling contracts have a lot of gods and goddess. Their world is basically replica of secular bureaucratic order and The highest god of the underground world is a incarnation of secular emperor, who use the same documental system as the imperial documental system to execute his order through the upper-ranking gods to the low-ranking gods. In grave quelling contracts, the deceased are those totally seperated from the living world and they sometimes are harmful to the living family members. The actions to pacify the deceased by treating them by food and by praying through the rituals is for securing the living people from the possible misfortune brought by the deceased. One of the reasons of this changes could be the popularity of Daoist in the Western Han Dynasty and the other could be the general social unrest in this period. The deterioration of imperial power also weakened the imperial control about the underground world. Natural disasters, social disturbances, spreading epidemics might drive the people to regard the supernatural existence - the deceased -as the messenger of unhappiness. The fear to the deceased and the strict separation from the deceased to the living world found in grave quelling contracts could be a sign of the collective mentalities.