Blue Emperor Scorpion

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The ritual system of the early emperors of the Han dynasty (206 BCE–220 AD) was not different from that of the Qin, with the only change consisting in the integration of the Black Deity by Gaozu or Liu Bang (206–195), the first emperor of the dynasty. However, Han state religion soon found itself divided between two factions. On one hand there were the Confucians who pushed for a new ritual system and a religio-political centralisation around the worship of the God of Heaven by the emperor, the God of Heaven's son, and the worship of lesser deities who had to be approved by the Confucians themselves, who considered themselves the only ones capable of interpreting the signs of Heaven in accordance with the classics. On the other hand there were the fangshi (方士 "masters of directions"), ritual masters who formulated what would have been called the "Huang–Lao" proto-Taoist religious movement, who presented themselves as the continuators of the traditions of the erstwhile kingdoms, and who emphasised the worship of local deities integrated into a theology in which the supreme God of Heaven was named Taiyi ("Great One"), and its human manifestation was the ancestral Yellow Emperor whom the emperors had to imitate.