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Village and Lineage: Transformations in Village Society in the Central Plains (Zhongyuan) in Ming-Qing

Special Issue
Liuwen Li (Zhengzhou Institute of Aeronautical Industry Management)
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Tracing the overlap and interaction between traditional organizations and institutions of local society such as the lijia village and lineage is the key to understanding the historical transformation of regional society. The evidence from Jiyuan, Henan, shows that the Ming lijia system tried to impose a decimal system to implement village governance. Because of migration and land transfers, the lijia organization went through repeated cycles of disintegration and renewal. In the early Qianlong period (1736-1799), state officials tried to reorganize villages on the basis of the preexisting organization of village altars (she), thereby establishing the central importance of these altars in rural social organization. Once the altar was established as the basic unit for state tax collection and maintaining of village order, it began to depend on the popular cultural resources of the lineage. Altars soon divided into sub- divisions based on lineages. Though divided into multiple smaller organizations, the original village altar did not disappear, but continued to exist. Centred on the village temple, it became a bond uniting different lineages, playing a crucial role in the cultural network of rural society. In the specific historical context of Jiyuan, the interaction of state and local society thus found complex and rich expression.

Journal of History and Anthropology