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Shang-ti (Lord of Heaven). In China, a collective name for gods, perhaps representing one supreme god or overlord. Ti were worshipped as deified ancestors of the Shang dynasty, and the Shang rulers worshipped Shang-ti—but the absence of a plural form makes it uncertain whether Shang-ti was one or many. He or they had overarching functions of control (e.g. over natural phenomena and plagues). Shang-ti was regarded as the Ancestor of the royal house of the Chou dynasty (c.1123–1221). In later history Shang-ti or Tʾien (Heaven) became semi-monotheistic; the worship of him was primarily an imperial cult confined to the royal houses and their supporters—the Confucian official class.

Shang-ti in later times was often referred to, in abbreviation, as Ti (Lord). But Ti was also commonly used in later history to refer to an emperor; his origin is divine because his First Ancestor is Shang-ti. Christian missionaries adopted Shang-ti as the name of God, though Tʾien-chu (Lord of Heaven) was also used.