The Development and Evolution of the Idea of the Mandate of Heaven in the Zhou Dynasty
The changes in the idea of Mandate of Heaven during the Shang and Zhou dynasties are ofgreat significance in the course of the development of traditional Chinese culture. The quickeningand awakening of the humanistic spirit was not the entire content of the Zhou idea of Mandate ofHeaven. In the process of annihilating the Shang dynasty and setting up their state, the Zhoupropagated the idea of the Mandate of Heaven out of practical needs. Their idea of the Mandateof Heaven was not very different from that of the Shang. From the Western Zhou on, the Zhouidea of Mandate of Heaven by no means developed in a linear way along a rational track. Theintermingling of rationality and irrationality and of awakening and non-awakening remained theoverall state of the Zhou intellectual superstructure after their "spiritual awakening".The Evolution of the Testamentary System from the Qin and Han to the Tang and Song Dynasties
In ancient China, there was a process of development by which dying injunctions (yiming) became wills. In the early period, the injunctions had multifaceted content; they werethe deceased´s expression, while living, of wishes and arrangements for after his death. Outsideforces and national laws or regulations had no part in them. From the Sui and Tang dynasties on,with the weakening of the system of hereditary aristocracy, big families with shared wealth livingunder one roof gradually evolved into smaller ones and the issue of inheritance of family propertybecame more immediate and important. Last injunctions thus became the means by which thehead of the family divided the inheritance. Last injunctions with economic content were in effectwills, as defined by the Testamentary Law of the Tang dynasty. The popularity of wills andsample wills in the Tang and Song dynasties reflects the importance of the will in the inheritanceof family property. The system of inheritance by will reflects the patriarchal system of familyproperty inheritance; and inheritance by will had a higher status than statutory succession. In theSong dynasty, wills were completely under state control, and a will become valid only after it hadbeen approved by the official authorities. The Southern Song levied a tax on wills (actually aninheritance tax) ; this institutional refinement marks a new stage in the development of China´ssystem of inheritance.