Aijmer, Göran. “Ancestors and Ancestry in Southwestern China: Transforms in Tradition.” Anthropos 113, no. 2 (2018): 437-452.


Ang, Isabelle. "The Revival of the Cult of Xu Xun in Jiangxi Province: The Pilgrimage to Xishan, and the Annual Rites in a Clanic Village." Daojiao xuekan 道教学刊/Journal of Taoist Studies 1 (2018): 111-132.


Brown, Tristan G. “The Deeds of the Dead in the Courts of the Living: Graves in Qing Law.” Late Imperial China 39, no. 2 (2018):109-155.


Campany, Robert Ford. “Miracle Tales as Scripture Reception: A Case Study Involving the Lotus Sutra in China, 370-750 CE.” Early Medieval China 24 (2018): 24-52.


Cheung Hiu Yu. "Inventing a New Tradition: The Revival of the Discourses of Family Shrines in the Northern Song." Journal of Song-Yuan Studies 47 (2017-2018): 85-136.


Clart, Philip. “Yiguan Dao.” In Handbook of East Asian New Religious Movements, edited by Lukas Pokorny & Franz Winter, 429-450. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2018.


Galambos, Imre. "Laozi Teaching Confucius: History of a Text Through Time." Studies in Chinese Religions 4, no. 4 (2018): 355–381.

Abstract: In addition to religious scriptures that survive from the Ming-Qing period, the Qing archives related to the prosecution of secret societies contain references to texts and images found in the possession of members of such societies at the time of their arrest. Texts may also be mentioned or at times quoted in full by the accused in the course of their interrogation. Some of these texts are unknown from other sources and thus the archival material offers precious insights into religious literature used by sectarian groups. This article examines a text that appears in the archives under the title Laojun du fuzi 老君度夫子 (The Elderly Lord Saves the Master), tracing the history of its transmission from the Song dynasty until modern days. In the course of the centuries, the text changed its title and part of its content, to the extent that it may be argued that its versions no longer constitute the same text but rather several interrelated ones, each with its own agenda and socio-cultural background.


Haar, Barend J. ter. “Shamans, Mediums, and Chinese Buddhism: A Brief Reconnaissance.” Hualin International Journal of Buddhist Studies 1, no. 2 (2018): 202–230.

Abstract: In traditional China, Buddhism was not a separate religious tradition or culture practiced in isolation from the rest of Chinese religious culture. This applied not only to people outside the monastic context, but also to people within that context. Even shamanic and medium practices could take place within a Buddhist context. Shamanic is here defined as spirit travel or communication whilst the practitioner stays him- or herself, whereas a medium would be possessed and temporarily become the other spiritual being. Finally, future research should look at the way in which these practices may have been influenced and/or partially replaced by other forms of contact with the divine or supernatural world, such as dreams and visions.


Haar, Barend ter. "Rumours and Prophecies: The Religious Background of the Late Yuan Rebellions." Studies in Chinese Religions 4, no. 4 (2018): 382-418.

Abstract: The conventional view of the late Yuan rebellions of Xu Shouhui and Han Shantong is that they were both inspired by Maitreyist beliefs. Han Shantong claimed that a Luminous King would appear. The prominent Chinese historian Wu Han therefore argued that this rebellion was influenced by Manichaean beliefs. The rebellion is also traditionally seen as the moment that the lay Buddhist devotionalist White Lotus movement worshipping Guanyin and Amitāhba changed into the messianic and suppo- sedly rebellious White Lotus Teachings. I will demonstrate that the Xu Shouhui rebellion was not Maitreyist at all, but advocated the reestablishment of a Song dynasty. It included a large number of leaders with a background in the lay Buddhist White Lotus movement, but was never labelled a messianic White Lotus Teachings until modern historians applied this label. The Han Shantong rebellion on the other hand was definitively Maitreyist, but the belief in a Luminous King did not derive from Manichaean beliefs but from an old indigenous tradition, the Sutra of the Five Lords. I argue that even the choice of the name Ming for Zhu Yuanzhang's new dynasty and his choice of the capital of Nanjing were inspired by this particular religious text.


Harkness, Etan. “Seeking an Audience in the Underworld and the Question of the Han Juridical Soul.” Bamboo and Silk 2, no.1 (2019): 16-31.

Abstract: By considering the Kongjiapo gaodishu (“notice to the underworld”) document of 142 B.C.E. in conjunction with the rishu (“daybook”) manuscript from the same tomb and other examples of gaodishu, this article highlights the function gaodishu served to aid the deceased with meeting important figures in a bureaucratized conception of the underworld. Questions are raised about Han burial practices and contemporaneous social institutions such as chattel slavery. (Source: journal)


Harper, Donald. “The Zhoujiatai Occult Manuscripts.” Bamboo and Silk 1, no.1 (2018): 53-70.

Abstract: Bamboo-slip manuscripts from Zhoujiatai tomb 30, Hubei (burial dated ca. 209 B.C.E.), provide important evidence of ancient Chinese occult manuscripts belonging to a man of modest status. One manuscript, identified as a rishu “day book” by the modern editors of the Zhoujiatai manuscripts, treats of hemerology and astrology and is the focus of this study. The bamboo slips of a calendar for years corresponding to 211–210 B.C.E. can be associated with the rishu and may have formed one manuscript unit. The contents of the rishu include two large-size diagrams related to hemerological and astro-calendrical systems. The first diagram involves calculations based on the position of the handle of the Dipper constellation and the second diagram is notable for reference to one of the years (211 B.C.E.) of the associated calendar. A third diagram, for which the title rong liri “rong calendar day [divination]” is written on the manuscript, has a slightly different form in a second occurrence on the manuscript. Both forms of the diagram show thirty lines arranged in a vertical column, corresponding to the thirty days of the ideal month, with some lines enclosed in boxes. Days of the month are counted in the sequence of lines on the diagram in order to determine the lucky and unlucky aspects of a given day. A related hemerological system is attested in a manuscript from Mawangdui tomb 3, Hunan (burial dated 168 B.C.E.), and in medieval occult manuscripts from Dunhuang. (Source: journal)


Hryniewska, Joanna, Arkadiusz Gut and Michał Wilczewski. "The Chinese Folk Model of the Mental Concept of 'Soul': A Linguistic Perspective." Roczniki Humanistyczne 66, no. 9 (2018): 195–216.

Abstract: The paper focuses on specific intuitions associated with mental concepts—especially with the concept of the soul in Mandarin. The main objective is to seek the basic linguistic meanings that shape folk intuitions about the mental space in Chinese culture through a linguistic analysis performed on the selected data from modern Chinese language dictionaries, authentic language corpora, and literary works. First, we briefly describe the phenomenon of high-level synonymy in Chinese language, including terms for describing mental concepts. Next, we discuss the linguistic realizations of the concept of the mind as it is presumed to be interrelated with the concept of the soul. Then, we present a linguistic analysis of terms used to talk about the soul in Mandarin to show how the concept of the soul is reflected in this language. The analysis allowed us to demarcate the semantic boundaries of the “soul.” We found that the Chinese folk model of this concept distinguishes between two main conceptualizations: (1) the “soul” as an invisible and immaterial part of living creatures, which is not bound permanently to the body, and as a seat of emotions and thoughts, and (2) the “soul” as a quasi-independent spiritual being that shows much creative potential and is able to persist after the physical death of a person or animal. Although we found a tendency to separate the “soul” from the “body”, the “soul” is still functionally conceptualized in relation to the “body.” Accordingly, we provided linguistic evidence supporting the arguments against the radical mind–body dualist position and for the sake of the weak mind–body holism.(Source: journal)


Introvigne, Massimo. “Xie Jiao as ‘Criminal Religious Movements’: A New Look at Cult Controversies in China and Around the World.” The Journal of CESNUR 2, no. 1 (2018): 13-32.

Abstract: Chinese Criminal Code punishes those active in a xie jiao with imprisonment from three to seven years. Xie jiao is translated in the English versions of Chinese official documents as “evil cults,” but the translation is inaccurate. As “heterodox teachings,” xie jiao have been banned in China since the Ming era, and the Communist regime inherited the practice of publishing lists of xie jiao from imperial and republican China. Historically, teachings were often declared “heterodox” for political rather than purely theological reasons, and today the definitions of xie jiao in Chinese documents and case law are vague at best. The paper argues that taking inspiration on Western categories such as “heresy” and “cult” would not help the Chinese in defining xie jiao in more precise terms, since these Western terms were als o historically fluid and easily used as tools for discriminating unpopular groups. In recent years, the Chinese authorities did invite to their anti - xie - jiao events, in addition or as an alternative to militant anti - cultists, Western scholars of new religious movements, including the author of this paper. I tried to introduce a new category, “criminal religious movements,” including groups that either (or both) consistently practice and justify common crimes such as terrorism, child abuse, rape, physical violence, homicide, and serious economic crimes, as opposite to the vague or imaginary crimes of “being a cult” or “brainwashing members.” The paper argues that there would be definite advantages in replacing categories such as xie jiao, “destructive cults,” and “extremist religions” (the latter now fashionable in Russia) with “criminal religious movements,” a notion that would refer to ascertained crimes perpetrated by each movement rather than to notions so vague that they become dangerous for religious liberty. (Source: journal)


Irons, Edward Allen. “The List: The Evolution of China’s List of Illegal and Evil Cults.” The Journal of CESNUR 2, no. 1 (2018): 33–57.

Abstract: In China, departments under the central government have published lists of banned and illegal religious groups since 1995. This practice can be seen as an extension of traditional ways of categorizing heterodox associations dating back to imperial times. Groups on the current list are often identified as xie jiao — normally translated as “ evil cults. ” The list is thus directly connected to questions of the categorization of religion in China. The study of the lists provides insight into the government ’ s evolving policy on religion, as well as the legal environment for religious activity.


Lewis, James R. Falun Gong: Spiritual Warfare and Martyrdom. Cambridge Elements: Elements in Religion and Violence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018.

Abstract: Falun Gong, founded by Li Hongzhi in 1992, attracted international attention in 1999 after staging a demonstration outside of government offices in Beijing. It was subsequently banned. Followers then created a number of media outlets outside of China focused on protesting the People’s Republic of China’s attack on the “human rights” of practitioners. This volume focuses on Falun Gong and violence. Although I will note accusations of how Chinese authorities have abused and tortured practitioners, the volume will focus on Li Hongzhi’s teachings about “spiritual warfare” and how these teachings have motivated practitioners to deliberately seek brutalization and martyrdom. (Source: book)


Li Geng. “Divination, Yijing, and Cultural Nationalism: The Self-Legitimation of Divination as an Aspect of ‘Traditional Culture’ in Post-Mao China.” The China Review 18, no. 4 (2018): 63-84.


Lu Yunfeng, Lu Yuxin, Zhou Na. “Doctrinal Innovation, Resistance, and Falun Gong’s Politicization.” The China Review 18, no. 4 (2018): 41-62.


Mozias, Ilia. “Immortals and Alchemists: Spirit-Writing and Self-Cultivation in Ming Daoism.” Journal of Daoist Studies 11 (2018): 83-107.

Abstract: What role do immortals play in the life and practice of a community of alchemists? In this paper, I examine the role of immortals in the cultivation practice of a small alchemical community formed around the famous Ming alchemist Lu Xixing. Lu and his companions had no connection to any religious institution, and instead of looking for a human master, they turned to the practice of spirit-writing. In séances, they met numerous immortals and discussed with them various aspects of self-cultivation and personal life. Lu collected detailed records of these conversations in his key treatise, which documents how immortals became members of their community and transformed alchemical cultivation into a journey in the twilight zone between the human and immortal worlds. They accompanied Lu and his companions on all stages of alchemical cultivation and helped them enter a state of mind necessary for achieving enlightenment. Participation in spirit-writing séances allowed the Daoists to practice internal alchemy without leaving their habitual literati life. (Source: journal)


Murray, Daniel M. “The City God Returns: Organised and Contagious Networks at the Xiamen City God Temple.” The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology 19, no. 4 (2018): 281-297.

Abstract: This paper explores the revival and current networks of the Xiamen City God temple in Southeast China. I divide the networks into two forms: the first is organised and composed of systematically and consciously structured networks; the second is contagious, made up of networks that are more unwieldy and impossible to fully map as they are formed through the affective intensity of ritual events. The two forms of networks are mutually dependent: without the donations and participation generated through organised networks, the ritual events would never take place; without the ritual events that generate networks of contagion, there would be no interest or reason to support the temple and the god’s efficacy would be seen in decline. (Source: journal)


Nguyen, Tho Ngoc. "Buddhist Factors in the Cult of Tianhou in the Mekong River Delta, Vietnam." International Communication of Chinese Culture 5, no. 3 (2018): 229–246.

Abstract: The cult of Tianhou (Vietnamese: Thiên Hậu) originated in Putian, Fujian Province in Southern China, was officially entitled Furen, Tainfei and Tianhou by Song, Ming and Qing dynasties, finally become the popular sea goddess in Southeast China coastlines. At around the late seventeenth century, Southern Chinese immigrated to Southern Vietnam, including the Mekong River Delta, hence the cult was introduced into the region. The whole region has got a total of 74 Tianhou temples (of which the Chinese built 57, the Vietnamese built 17 and around 100 temples of gods in which Tianhou is co-worshipped. After over three hundred years of cultural integration and social development, Tianhou has changed from the main functions of a sea protector to powerful multi-functional Mother Goddess of both ethnic Chinese (also called "ethnic Hoa") and a great number of Vietnamese people. This paper is to explore the structure and connotation of the cult of Tianhou in the Mekong River Delta from the perspective of cultural studies, and applies Western theories of hierarchy of need, superscription and standardization in popular religion and rituals as well as concept of distinction between acculturation and assimilation to analyze the transformation and adaptation of a symbolic faith under the specific background of the Mekong River Delta in Vietnam. The research also aims to investigate the principles of reshaping and constructing contemporary cultural identity of the ethnic Chinese people in Vietnam as well as the activeness and flexibility of local Vietnamese in dealing with the external cultural practices. This case study plays an important role in shaping a systematic look of cultural exchanges and multicultural harmonization in Vietnam nowadays.


Olles, Volker. "Die Halle der Drei Urspünge. Teil III einer Reihe kommentierter Übersetzungen von fünf Inschriften aus der Liumen-Tradition in daoistischen Anthologie Chongkan Daozang jiyao." Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 168, no.2 (2018): 465-480.

Abstract: This contribution is the third in a series of articles presenting the texts and annotated translations of five stele inscriptions, which were included in the collection Chongkan Daozang jiyao 重刊道藏輯要 (Reedited Essentials of the Daoist Canon), a Daoist anthology published in 1906 at the monastery Erxian An 二仙菴 (Hermitage of the Two Immortals) in Chengdu (Sichuan). The inscriptions in question were, with one exception, composed to commemorate the renovation or rebuilding of temple halls and other structures belonging to either the Erxian An or the adjacent Qingyang Gong 青羊宮 (Palace of the Grey Goat), and were included in the relevant sections of the Chongkan Daozang jiyao. All texts share a common derivation from the Liumen 劉門 (Liu School) tradition. The term Liumen refers to the teachings of the Confucian scholar Liu Yuan 劉沅 (1768–1856) as well as a quasi-religious movement, which was based on Liu's thought and flourished in late imperial and Republican times. Liu Yuan and the following Liumen patriarchs were patrons of the Qingyang Gong and the Erxian An, and the two Daoist sanctuaries, among other temples in Chengdu and its environs, were supported by the Liumen community. The present article contains a full translation of Liu Yuan's Chongxiu Qingyang Gong Sanyuan Dian beiji 重 修青羊宮三元殿碑記 (Stele Inscription on Rebuilding the Three Primes Hall at Qingyang Gong). From the early 19th century to the middle of the 20th century, the Qingyang Gong received substantial support from the Liu family and Liumen adherents, and it is obvious that the Liumen community was significantly involved in the management of this ancient sanctuary. The Three Primes Hall inside the Qingyang Gong was rebuilt by Liumen adherents in the early 19th century. In addition to the annotated translation of the inscription, the present contribution introduces the deities worshiped in the temple hall and briefly discusses how Liu Yuan perceived the Daoist notion of the Three Primes (sanyuan). (Source: journal)


Selbitschka, Armin. "Sacrifice vs. Sustenance: Food as a Burial Good in Late Pre-Imperial and Early Imperial Chinese Tombs and Its Relation to Funerary Rites." Early China 41 (2018): 179-243.

Abstract: One of the medical manuscripts recovered from Tomb No. 3 at Mawangdui (dated 186 b.c.e.) states that, "When a person is born there are two things that need not to be learned: the first is to breathe and the second is to eat." Of course it is true that all healthy newborn human beings possess the reflexes to breathe and eat. Yet, the implications of death should have been just as obvious to the ancient Chinese. Once the human brain ceases to function, there is no longer a biological need for oxygen and nourishment. Nevertheless, a large number of people in late pre-imperial and early imperial China insisted on burying food and drink with the dead. Most modern commentators take the deposition of food and drink as burial goods to be a rather trite phenomenon that warrants little reflection. To their minds both kinds of deposits were either intended to sustain the spirit of the deceased in the hereafter or simply a sacrifice to the spirit of the deceased. Yet, a closer look at the archaeological evidence suggests otherwise. By tracking the exact location of food and drink containers in late pre-imperial and early imperial tombs and by comprehensively analyzing inscriptions on such vessels in addition to finds of actual food, the article demonstrates that reality was more complicated than this simple either/or dichotomy. Some tombs indicate that the idea of continued sustenance coincided with occasional sacrifices. Moreover, this article will introduce evidence of a third kind of sacrifice that, so far, has gone unnoticed by scholarship. Such data confirms that sacrifices to spirits other than the one of the deceased sometimes were also part of funerary rituals. By paying close attention to food and drink as burial goods the article will put forth a more nuanced understanding of early Chinese burial practices and associated notions of the afterlife.


Tam Wai Lun. "Unity in Diversity: The Deliverance of Soul Ritual in South China." Studies in Chinese Religions 4, no. 1 (2018): 112-137.

Abstract: It was James Watson’s contention that the unity of Chinese culture was to be found in funeral rites. Funeral rites are usually conducted by the master of ceremony and ritual specialists. Watson had a detailed description on the part performed by the master of ceremony but gave only a six-page treatment on the part performed by the ritual specialists. This paper deals basically with the part of funeral rites performed by the ritual specialists. To avoid confusion, we will call the part performed by ritual specialist as Duwang (deliverance of the souls of the deceased). We will submit that, despite the diversity of Duwang ritual found in Chinese local societies and despite the fact that both Buddhism and Taoism has their own Duwang ritual, Duwang in China, in the same manner as funeral rites discussed by Watson, has a union structure across the southern part of the nation. We will use two cases to illustrate our hypothesis, namely the case of Jianchuan in Yunnan where a Vajrayana Buddhist tradition called Ācārya Buddhism is flourished and the case of Wanzai in Jiangxi where there is a mixture of Buddho-Daoist tradition. (Source: journal)


Tan Chee-Beng. Chinese Religion in Malaysia: Temples and Communities. Leiden: Brill, 2018.

Abstract: Based on long-term ethnographic study, this is the first comprehensive work on the Chinese popular religion in Malaysia. It analyses temples and communities in historical and contemporary perspective, the diversity of deities and Chinese speech groups, religious specialists and temple services, the communal significance of the Hungry Ghosts Festival, the relationship between religion and philanthropy as seen through the lens of such Chinese religious organization as shantang (benevolent halls) and Dejiao (Moral Uplifting Societies), as well as the development and transformation of Taoist Religion. Highly informative, this concise book contributes to an understanding of Chinese migration and settlement, political economy and religion, religion and identity politics as well the significance of religion to both individuals and communities. (Source: publisher's website)


Vance, Brigid E. “Divining Political Legitimacy in a Late Ming Dream Encyclopedia: The Enyclopedia and Its Historical Context.” Extrême-Orient, Extrême-Occident 42 (2018): 15-42.


Vermander, Benoit; Liz Hingley, and Liang Zhang. Shanghai Sacred: The Religious Landscape of a Global City. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2018.


Wang Ping. “The Status of Victims in Shang Human Sacrifice Rituals.” minima sinica 30, no. 2 (2018): 7–21.


Wang Xing. "Rethinking the 'Magic State' in China: Political Imagination and Magical Practice in Rural Beijing." Asian Ethnology 77, no. 1-2 (2018): 331-351.

Abstract: This paper discusses the local imagination of the Chinese state in rural Beijing using ethnographic evidence. In particular, it examines the process by which the state is internalized in people's lives through local magical practices and collective memories of traditional rituals, geomancy, and spirit possessions. I argue that the magical aspect of the Chinese state in people's imagination denies an understanding of a magic state as the alternative for a violent and hegemonic reality for the state. In this sense, the Chinese popular perception of the state challenges the established concept of the state as the consequence of an elitist discussion and definition, and at the same time also challenges the national discourse. Furthermore, magical practices and beliefs in rural Beijing in relation to the local comprehension of the Chinese state show that in many cases, the state is considered as powerless.


Wang Yuanyuan & Lin Wushu. “Discovery of an Incantation of St. George in Ritual Manuscripts of a Chinese Folk Society.” Monumenta Serica 66, no.1 (2018): 115-130.

Abstract: In recent years, many ritual manuscripts have been discovered in Xiapu 霞浦 County of Fujian Province. They are probably the religious documents of Lingyuanjiao 靈源教, a polytheistic folk religion that prevailed in the Ming and Qing dynasties, which absorbed various elements of Buddhism, Daoism, Brahmanism, Manichaeism (Mingjiao 明教), Christianity, Zoroastrianism and other local beliefs. The paper discusses specifically an incantation Jisi zhou 吉思呪 in the Xiapu manuscripts. Yishuhe 夷數和 mentioned in the incantation refers to Jesus Christ, while Yihuo Jisi dasheng 移活吉思大聖 should be the early Christian martyr St. George. The incantation, identified as being associated with Nestorianism, depicts the historical background of his martyrdom. From the authors’ point of view, the incantation Jisi zhou from Xiapu is not only meaningful to the studies of Manichaeism, but also to Christian studies in traditional China. (Source: journal)


Zhang, Ellen Cong. “How Long Did It Take to Plan a Funeral? Liu Kai’s (947-1000) Experience Burying His Parents.” Frontiers of History in China 13, no. 4 (2018): 508-530.


Zhang Ying. “Combating Illness-Causing Demons in the Home: Fabing Treatises and Their Circulation from the Late Ming through the Early Republican Period.” Late Imperial China 39, no. 2 (2018): 59-108.