We investigate surviving legal statutes regarding inheritance and descriptions of adoption from the Han dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE), asking to what extent there was consensus among the literate elite about the rules for adoption. We argue that, in contrast to later periods, there is little evidence for the existence of any single set of classical prescriptions. Instead, the Han ruling elite had at their disposal a variety of legitimate strategies for deciding whether to and how to incorporate outsiders into the household. Such strategies involved different parties, contrasting principles, and diverging rationales.
|Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient
|Published - 2009