The Han dynasty is oftentimes regarded as one of the most successful of all the Chinese dynasties. The practices and traditions during this dynasty helped set the tone for the imperial rule that governed China for over 2000 years. Like all the other dynasties, religion played a great role in shaping the rule of those in power. Just like the arts and the technologies developed during that era, the influences of the Han Dynasty religions spread long after the dynasty has ended. Several forms of religion dominated China during the Han period.
Ancestor worship has been widespread in China long before the beginning of the Han dynasty. However, ancestor worship was still in practice during the Han dynasty. The emperor worshipped his ancestors through costly burials, and families all throughout China made ritual sacrifices not only to the deities and spirits but also to their ancestors. The emperor was also expected to revere Heaven and Earth, the Great Unity and the deities and spirits of the seasons. It was a tradition for the emperor to climb Mount Tai to give offerings to Heaven and Earth.
Taoism however is considered to be the main Han dynasty religion. It was also founded during the Han dynasty. The Chinese people held Taoist ceremonies for worship and religious purposes. Taoism can be characterized by the belief for opposites, such as, “there would be no love without hate.” Buddhism also became a major religion in China during the Han dynasty after its arrival at around 1st century CE. It was believed to have been brought by travelers who took the Silk Road from North India.
Confucianism, on the other hand, was more of a philosophy rather than a Han dynasty religion but it also ruled China for almost 2000 years. It was during the Han dynasty that China first embraced Confucianism. Despite it not being a religion, it became one of the most important ideological beliefs during that era.
There were still many primitive religions and beliefs which were observed by some of them minorities during that time. What is undeniable though is that each of them helped shape the Han dynasty to become the successful dynasty that it was.