The Chinese national religion – or perhaps religions, with reference to the different dynasties – is essentially based on the cult of ancestors and on the conception of a sacred sovereignty, personified on the divine level by a Supreme Being and on the human level by the ruling dynasty. These are the foundations that support the most ancient political formation (Shang dynasty) and, albeit with inevitable formal changes, those that followed it over the centuries. The Supreme Being under the Shang was called Ti (ruler) or Shang-ti, perhaps supreme ruler or perhaps simply Shang ruler, that is almost ancestor of the Shang dynasty, and in any case put in nominal relation with the reigning house. In this phase, the cult of the ancestors and the cult of the Supreme Being (Ti) are intimately united: the conception of Ti personifies Shang royalty and the ancestors, object of public worship, are those of the Shang family. It is in view of this solidarity that Ti may appear “ancestor” of the Shang. It would be a mythical ancestor, however, with a way of being different from that of the real ancestors: one is perpetually present, like someone who has never died or did not need to die to acquire superhuman power; the others are only temporarily present, from the moment of death which gives them superhuman powers until they are replaced by the more recent dead. This in accordance with two different functions: one is perpetual as kingship must be conceived as perpetual, while the others, while ensuring the continuity of the royal lineage, must adapt to the succession of physical persons that this lineage represent in becoming historical. The ancestors, above all, then Ti and, to a lesser extent, other extrahuman beings (personifications of the constitutive “elements” of the universe) directed human action through oracular responses, which are the main if not the only documentation of the earliest Chinese religion. These are the “bones” of Anyang (the excavations of the ancient capital of the Shang dynasty, begun in 1928, have brought to light about 200,000): a question was asked, sometimes in writing on the bone; then the bone (or a tortoise shell) was placed in contact with the fire which produced cracks above it which were “read” and interpreted as an oracular response. The reading, the way or code of reading, the inscriptions themselves (the most ancient Chinese writing!) Give us an elaborate symbolism which, in itself, regardless of specific religious conceptions, constitutes one of the salient features of Chinese religion. It is in this symbolism that the constituent elements of the universe (water, air, earth, fire) are also personified in their multiple manifestations, without however becoming real divinities, but remaining almost as “signs” or “symbols” referring to realities of another order. That is to say: the system of which the Chinese gods are part cannot be contained in a pantheon, as happens for true polytheistic religions, but is rather a universal harmony. An example: the cosmic element “earth” acquires a divine dimension with the god-soil, but this god is not one and the same for all Chinese: there is in fact a soil-god venerated by the king with reference to the territory of the kingdom; there are the gods-Soil venerated by the feudal lords with reference to their respective fiefdoms; and finally the soil-gods venerated by the peasants, each corresponding to a particular field. In this ideology, the prosperity of the fields is not so much entrusted to a god of the soil, who otherwise would be unique for all, as to harmony of the social system headed by the monarch: the presence of equal soil gods at different levels and in different situations, on the other hand, ensures that the inevitable plurality constituting the system does not lead to discord. In this sense, the God-Soil, more than a divinity in the manner of polytheistic religions, is a symbol, or point of reference, of Chinese cosmology. § Where the deities are symbols, even the actions of worship become symbolic. And the rites go beyond the cultic practice to invest all the behavior: every gesture is ritualized; it is a “sign” that cannot be expressed otherwise, under penalty of civil death. A wrong gesture is like a wrong word: it would not serve to make oneself understood; and whoever is misunderstood is rejected. Now, what is obvious, in the abstract, for any kind of human association, it becomes religiously significant in Chinese culture, so much so that it constitutes a dominant feature. The same message as Confucius, the founder of Confucianism which with Taoism constitutes the “modern” phase of Chinese religion, is basically nothing more than a body of rules of behavior (li), following which man can enter the harmony of the universe, thus overcoming the limits of one’s own ephemeral earthly existence. § Ancestor worship, symbolism and rituality of behavior are the guiding principles of Chinese religion, from its most ancient documentation (14th century BC) to Confucianism (5th century BC) and beyond. It is these principles that characterize it beyond the contingent forms that change with the passage of time. The name, and perhaps the concept of Ti, the Supreme Being, changes with the dynasty Chou (from the 11th century BC) loses the ancestral characteristics that linked him to the previous dynasty, to become definitely a Sky-god (T’ien); the names of the symbol-deities change, the same symbols change with the formation and organization of the symbolism of yang and yin which leads to a dualistic conception of the universe; Confucianism was born, Taoism was born almost simultaneously, the religion founded by Lo Zi which, even if with different methods and in controversy with Confucius, pursues the same Confucian aims of harmonizing human behavior with the course (tao) of the universe. Beyond the differences in expression, it was therefore a concluded structure, precisely a “universe”, which was then the same Chinese empire “closed” also, and not only symbolically, by the Great Wall begun during the dynasty Ch’in (end of the 3rd century BC). With the disintegration of this “universe” (revolts of the subject classes, antagonism between the representatives of the ruling classes) the penetration of a religion extraneous to the system is favored: Buddhism, coming from India. When, at the end of the century. VI, the Chinese national empire will be reconstituted, China will be the “Country of the three religions”, coexisting and functioning on different levels: Confucianism for the salvation of the state, Taoism for the worldly salvation of the individual and Buddhism for the extramundane salvation. According to ehotelat.com, China is a country located in eastern Asia. The distinction between the three salvations has led China to an extreme religious tolerance which, with the passage of time, has become “indifference”, at least from a cultural point of view. Chinese culture has become secular, Confucianism has become little more than a national educational system, Taoism and Buddhism itself have descended to the level of popular religiosity, often confusing themselves with folkloric manifestations.