Sheji (Gods of the Earth and Five Grains)
She (社) is the God of the Earth, and ji (稷 millet), represents the God of Five Grains. Chinese kings and vassals of ancient times offered sacrifices to these gods. As the Han Chinese depended on farming, these gods were the most important primitive objects of worship. The ancient rulers offered sacrifices to the gods of the Earth and Five Grains every year to pray for peace and good harvests in the country. As a result, sheji became a symbol of the nation and state power.
Why do the Sons of Heaven worship the gods of the Earth and Five Grains? They do so to seek blessings for all under heaven and to requite the gods’ blessings. Without earth, people have nowhere to live; without grain, people have nothing to eat. The earth is too vast to be worshipped everywhere; the variety of grains is too large to be worshipped one by one. Therefore, earth altars to the God of the Earth have been set up to honor the earth; and as millet is the chief one of the five grains, it has become the God of Five Grains and sacrifices have been instituted. (Debates of the White Tiger Hall)
Rivers and Mountains / Country or State Power
The term, similar in meaning to heshan (河山), literarily means rivers and mountains. It is used to refer to the sovereignty of a state and all its territory. The term has these implications: rivers and mountains provide natural barriers that protect the country and its sovereignty; territory is the key feature of a state.
To seize a region by force, establish a regime there, and extend its territory far and wide. (Records of the Three Kingdoms)
Selected from Key Concepts in Chinese Thought and Culture published by Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press.