社稷 – Chinese philosophy and culture

shèjì 社稷

Sheji (Gods of the Earth and the Five Grains)

古代帝王、诸侯所祭祀的土地神和五谷神。“社”是土地神,“稷”是五谷神。土地神和五谷神是以农为本的汉民族最重要的原始崇拜物。古代君主为了祈求国事太平、五谷丰登,每年都要祭祀土地神和五谷神,“社稷”因此成为国家与政权的象征。

She (社) is the God of the Earth, and ji (稷 millet), represents the God of the Five Grains. Chinese kings and vassals of ancient times offered sacrifices to these gods. As the Han Chinese depended on farming, these gods were the most important primitive objects of worship. The ancient rulers offered sacrifices to the gods of the Earth and the Five Grains every year to pray for peace and good harvests in the country. As a result, sheji became a symbol of the nation and state power.

引例 Citation:

◎王者所以社稷何?为天下求福报功。人非土不立,非谷不食。土地广博,不可遍敬也;五谷众多,不可一一祭也。故封土立社示有土尊;稷,五谷之长,故立稷而祭之也。(《白虎通义·社稷》)

(天子为何设立土地神与五谷神呢?是为了天下百姓祈求神的赐福、报答神的功德。没有土地,人就不能生存;没有五谷,人就没有食物。土地广大,不可能全都礼敬;五谷众多,不可能全都祭祀。所以封土为坛立土地神以表示土地的尊贵;稷[谷子]是五谷中最重要的粮食,所以立稷为五谷神而予以祭祀。)

Why do the Sons of Heaven worship the gods of the Earth and the Five Grains? They do so to seek blessings for all under heaven and to requite the gods’ blessings. Without earth, people have nowhere to live; without grain, people have nothing to eat. The earth is too vast to be worshipped everywhere; the variety of grains is too large to be worshipped one by one. Therefore, earth altars to the God of the Earth have been set up to honor the earth; and as millet is the chief one of the five grains, it has become the God of the Five Grains and sacrifices have been instituted. (Debates of the White Tiger Hall)

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