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I don't understand the meaning of the word "sacrifice" in this sentence:

I wish I could do fieldwork in the Ming court, observing the court citizens and asking them why state sacrifices and music played such a central role in their public and private lives.

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    What is the source, or did you write this? "why state sacrifices" seems incomplete. – user3169 Apr 23 '17 at 18:07
  • No I didn't write it. The source is "Methodologies for historical ethnomusicology in the twenty-first century" by David G.Hebert and Jonathan McCollum. – Maryam Apr 23 '17 at 18:22
  • Could you add a couple of sentences before and after your example, to get a better sense of the context? – user3169 Apr 23 '17 at 18:27
  • Yes, of course. – Maryam Apr 23 '17 at 18:28
  • The sentence "I wish I could..." is a quotation from Josef Lam. This section of the article is about time machine and its role for historical researches. But this sentence is just an example and the writers did't wrote anything else about that. I don't understand what does it mean. – Maryam Apr 23 '17 at 18:47
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"State sacrifices" is only a partial thought. Below, I've put brackets around the the complete noun phrase.

I wish I could do fieldwork in the Ming court, observing the court citizens and asking them why [state sacrifices and music] played such a central role in their public and private lives.

So, [state sacrifices] and [music] were two things which were important in the Ming court, and the author would like to ask court citizens why they were so important. It looks like there is a fairly well-regarded book on those topics, so this sentence might refer to that.

"State sacrifices" would be sacrifices performed on behalf of the Ming government. Wikipedia helpfully tells us:

Sacrifice is the offering of food, objects or the lives of animals to a higher purpose, in particular divine beings, as an act of propitiation or worship.

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"Sacrifice" means to give up. It is to get rid of something or give away something that you do not necessarily want to give up, but you may be receiving some reward, relief, or it may be to help somebody else.

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