chapter
Introduction
ByALAN K. L. CHAN AND SOR-HOON TAN
Pages 11

Some scholars contend that the character xiao appears in the oracle bones; most agree that it occurs in Western Zhou (1045-771 bce) sources, frequently as a verb in texts about the performance of sacrifices.3 According to Donald Holzman, “The earliest appearance of the word for filial piety is on a bronze vessel that can be dated to the very last years of the Shang dynasty or the earliest years of the Zhou, that is, roughly around 1000 bce. The etymology of the character is, for once, clear. It shows an old man being supported by a child.”4 Holzman remarks that “probably at the very earliest stages in their history, the Chinese gave filial piety an extremely exalted position – treated it as something one might almost call an absolute, a metaphysical entity.”5