In his commentary on the present passage [from the 春秋大專 Simplified: 春秋大专 Pinyin: chūn qiū dà zhuān Wade-Giles: Chhun Chhiu Ta Chuan “The Great Commentary on the Spring and Autumn Annals”, about investiture of land] Khung An–Kuo [ Pinyin: kǒng ān guó 孔安國 Simplified: 孔安国], about -85, explains how this was done. ‘The emperor’s altar mound of the God of the Soil,’ he says, ‘was made of the earths of the five colours. When a lord was enfeoffed with territory (in one or other of the four directions) he was presented with a sod …’ … As Chavennes [probably his 1910 paper in the Bibliographie d’Etudes (Annales de Musée Guimet)] points out, the etymology of the character fêng [封 Pinyin: fēng], enfeoffment, shows a piece of land with a plant growing on it, alongside a length measure and a hand (the radical of which now means an inch…). Thus just as in the medieval Western world, enfeoffment was per herbam et terram.
“On this a story hangs”, about the five earths — Joseph Needham, Science and Civilisation in China: Volume VI:1 Botany, (1986) [Cambridge University Press, 1989], p 86 n l. ISBN 9780521087317