Representations of Childhood in Early China

The child became an important topic of intellectual speculation in the institutional changes initiated in Qin times and the historical, philosophical, and political discourse of the Han. One can single out the creation of a unified empire as the most momentous and profound impetus for this new attention. This entry discusses evidence of the importance of childhood in early China, factors that influenced the importance of childhood in early China, how this influence was gender based, and how certain elements of Daoist and Huang-Lao thought may have played a role in early China’s reverence of childhood.

Archaeological Evidence of the Importance of Childhood

Archaeological remains from China’s Neolithic period (ca. 5000–2000 BCE) provide cryptic evidence about childhood. Children have been found carefully entombed in clay urns alongside ...

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