10. Ritual


Abraham, Terry and Priscilla Wegers. "Respecting the Dead: Chinese Cemeteries and Burial Practices in the Interior Pacific Northwest." In: Sue Fawn Chung & Priscilla Wegers, eds. Chinese American Death Rituals. Lanham: AltaMira Press, 2005. Pp.147-173.


Aijmer, Göran, New Year Celebrations in Central China in Late Imperial Times. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 2003.


Aijmer, Göran. "A Family Reunion: The Anthropology of Life, Death and New Year in Soochow." Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 15(2005)2: 199-218.


Allio, Fiorella, "Rituel, territoire et pouvoir local: Le procession du "pays" de Sai-kang (T'ainan, Taiwan)." Doctoral dissertation, U. de Paris X, Paris-Nanterre, 1996.


Allio, Fiorella, "Procession et identité: mise en scène rituelle de l'histoire locale." Cahiers d'Extrême-Asie 10 (1998): 1-18.

Abstract: This article focuses on the Sai-kang procession, an inter-communal ritual performed by local people, with distinct territorial implications. Processions constitute the ritual form most clearly connected with local territory, history, and the environment. Performed in the name of tutelary deities, they reveal the supernatural map of a region. They also establish a direct and concrete relationship between local inhabitants and their living space, while organizing the latter politically and symbolically. Processions demarcate borders and deploy spiritual and physical defenses, while staging socio-political interactions among constituted groups and individuals. The triennial procession of Sai-kang, named koah-hiu*, "to cut and share incense," and held without interruption since 1784, draws delegations from eighty-odd contiguous cult communities, binding them in a supra-local alliance. The procession takes place within a larger festival marking the visitation of the Gods of Pestilence and comprising other collective rituals, such as Taoist jiao. The location is the region of the earliest large-scale Hokkien immigration in Taiwan. The ritual shows how important territorial religious activities have been for the definition of the pioneer frontier, the establishment of local identity and the power, and the expression and development of local traditions and culture. In Sai-kang, the history of the ritual merges with the history of regional settlement, as well as a succession of geomorphologic disruptions (land reclamation, resettlement, river diversions, flood, alluvia, drying up). Such upheavals left profound marks on the collective memory, in time translated into various symbolic inscriptions. Beside manifesting a higher-level alliance, the procession also dramatizes ritualized competitions for prestige, mingled with motifs of old rivalries. The processional ritual presents a dynamic and living tableau of local history and society. It constitutes an unusual but highly pertinent source for historians. [Source: article]


Allio, Fiorella. "Marcher, danser, jouer: La prestation des troupes processionnelles à Taiwan." Études Mongoles at Siberiennes 31(1999-2000)2: 181-235.


Andersen, Poul, "Taoist Ritual in the Shanghai Area." In: Daniel L. Overmyer [ed.] (with the assistance of Shin-yi Chao), Ethnography in China Today: A Critical Assessment of Methods and Results. Taipei: Yuan-Liou Publishing Co., 2002. Pp.263-283.


Andersen, Poul, "Concepts of Meaning in Chinese Ritual." Cahiers d'Extrême-Asie 12(2001): 155-183.


Anderson, Samantha, "Gender and Ritual in South-East China." In: Arvind Sharma & Katherine K. Young [eds.], Annual Review of Women in World Religions, vol. VI. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2002. Pp.122-207.


Armstrong, David E., Alcohol and Altered States in Ancestor Veneration Rituals of Zhou Dynasty China and Iron Age Palestine. Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1998.


Baptandier, Brigitte, "Le Rituel d'Ouverture des Passes: un concept de l'enfance." L'Homme 137(1996):119-142.


Baptandier, Brigitte, "Penser par substituts: les rituels du corps de remplacement." Atelier 18(1997): 29-47.


Barnett, W. Laurence. “Dealing with the Dead: Rituals of Trance, Transition and Transformation in a Taiwan Temple.” Ph.D. dissertation, Cornell University, 2004.

Abstract: The Taiwanese experience their dead as demanding recognition. The dead will not go away. They are difficult to deal with and Taiwanese spend much time and resources on rituals focused on the dead. In this study I examine four principal rituals performed at Kitchen God Temple in Yilan County, Taiwan: Daily soul retrieval, annual Rescue Ritual, rites to placate the discontented dead during the Ghost Festival, and birthday celebrations for the gods. I argue that the living ritually produce the dead as the source of their own productivity (children produce parents) and the embodiment of unfilled fantasies of autonomy and relatedness. By seeking to close the symbolic gap in social relations created by death through the re-integration of named dead into kinship relations, or denying the generic discontented dead such sociality, the living reproduce a certain kind of family in which individual desires are subordinated to the collectivity and juniors submit to seniors. The conceptual issues that inform this study are the production of the person as praxis, exchange, gender, and the place of the dead in Taiwan society, all within an approach that privileges the transformative power of ritual activity.


Barrett, Timothy Hugh. "Human Sacrifice and Self-Sacrifice in China: a Century of Revelations." In: The Strange World of Human Sacrifice, edited by Jan N. Bremmer. Leuven: Peeters, 2007. Pp. 237-257.


Bell, Catherine, "Acting Ritually: Evidence from the Social Life of Chinese Rites." In: Richard K. Fenn [ed.], The Blackwell Companion to Sociology of Religion, 2001. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers. Pp. 371-387.


Berezkin, Rostislav. “Scripture-telling (jiangjing) in the Zhangjiangang Area and the History of Chinese Storytelling.” Asia Major, Third Series, 24.1 (2011): 1-42.


Betty, Stafford. "The Growing Evidence for "Demonic Possession": What should Psychiatry's Response Be?" Journal of Religion and Health 44(2005)1: 13-30. [Note: Author draws (among other sources) on a description of an exorcistic ritual observed by Peter Goullart in the 1920s.]


Billioud, Sébastien & Joël Thoraval. "Lijiao: The Return of Ceremonies Honouring Confucius in Mainland China." China Perspectives 2009/4: 82-100.


Blake, C. Fred. Burning Money: The Material Spirit of the Chinese Lifeworld. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2011.

Abstract: For a thousand years across the length and breadth of China and beyond, people have burned paper replicas of valuable things—most often money—for the spirits of deceased family members, ancestors, and myriads of demons and divinities. Although frequently denigrated as wasteful and vulgar and at times prohibited by governing elites, today this venerable custom is as popular as ever. Burning Money explores the cultural logic of this common practice while addressing larger anthropological questions concerning the nature of value. The heart of the work integrates Chinese and Western thought and analytics to develop a theoretical framework that the author calls a “materialist aesthetics.” This includes consideration of how the burning of paper money meshes with other customs in China and around the world. The work examines the custom in contemporary everyday life, its origins in folklore and history, as well as its role in common rituals, in the social formations of dynastic and modern times, and as a “sacrifice” in the act of consecrating the paper money before burning it. Here the author suggests a great divide between the modern means of cultural reproduction through ideology and reification, with its emphasis on nature and realism, and previous pre-capitalist means through ritual and mystification, with its emphasis on authenticity. The final chapters consider how the burning money custom has survived its encounter with the modern global system and internet technology. (Source: publisher's website)


Blake, C. Fred. “Lampooning the Paper Money Custom in Contemporary China.” The Journal of Asian Studies 70.2 (2011): 449-469.

Abstract: Over the past millennium and across the length and breadth of China and beyond, people have been burning paper replicas of the material world to send to their deceased family members, ancestors, and myriads of imaginary beings. The paper replicas, which include all types of goods and treasures, mostly old and new forms of money, is commonly referred to as the paper money custom. Studies of the paper money custom have neglected the native opposition to it, especially that of the contemporary intelligentsia, one form of which consists of news reports and human interest stories in the popular press that lampoon the practice of burning paper money. Many stories lampoon the paper money custom by showing how it burlesques traditional virtues such as filial piety. One of the interesting maneuvers in this criticism is how it employs the old and newer kinds of paper monies to shape the response of the readers.(Source: journal)


Boretz, Avron A., "Martial Gods and Magic Swords: Identity, Myth, and Violence in Chinese Popular Religion." Journal of Popular Culture 29(1995)1:93-109.


Boretz, Avron. Gods, Ghosts, and Gangsters: Ritual Violence, Martial Arts, and Masculinity on the Margins of Chinese Society. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2011.

Abstract: Demon warrior puppets, sword-wielding Taoist priests, spirit mediums lacerating their bodies with spikes and blades—these are among the most dramatic images in Chinese religion. Usually linked to the propitiation of plague gods and the worship of popular military deities, such ritual practices have an obvious but previously unexamined kinship with the traditional Chinese martial arts. The long and durable history of martial arts iconography and ritual in Chinese religion suggests something far deeper than mere historical coincidence. Avron Boretz argues that martial arts gestures and movements are so deeply embedded in the ritual repertoire in part because they iconify masculine qualities of violence, aggressivity, and physical prowess, the implicit core of Chinese patriliny and patriarchy. At the same time, for actors and audience alike, martial arts gestures evoke the mythos of the jianghu, a shadowy, often violent realm of vagabonds, outlaws, and masters of martial and magic arts. Through the direct bodily practice of martial arts movement and creative rendering of jianghu narratives, martial ritual practitioners are able to identify and represent themselves, however briefly and incompletely, as men of prowess, a reward otherwise denied those confined to the lower limits of this deeply patriarchal society. Based on fieldwork in China and Taiwan spanning nearly two decades, Gods, Ghosts, and Gangsters offers a thorough and original account of violent ritual and ritual violence in Chinese religion and society. Close-up, sensitive portrayals and the voices of ritual actors themselves—mostly working-class men, many of them members of sworn brotherhoods and gangs—convincingly link martial ritual practice to the lives and desires of men on the margins of Chinese society. (Source: publisher's website)


Brandl, Rudolf M., "Das nuo in Guichi (Anhui, China) 1994: Ein Feldforschungsbericht." In: Klaus Wolfgang Niemöller, Uwe Pätzold & Chung Kyo-chul [eds.], "Lux Oriente": Begegnungen der Kulturen in der Musikforschung: Festschrift Robert Günther zum 65. Geburtstag. Kassel: Gustav Bosse Verlag, 1995. Pp. 111-148.


Brown, Melissa J. "Ethnic Identity, Cultural Variation, and Processes of Change: Rethinking the Insights of Standardization and Orthopraxy." Modern China 33(2007)1: 91-124.


Bujard, Marianne, Le Sacrifice au ciel dans la Chine ancienne: théorie et pratique sous les Han occidentaux. Paris: École française d'Extrême-Orient, 2000.


Bumbacher, Stephan Peter. Empowered Writing: Exorcistic and Apotropaic Rituals in Medieval China. St. Petersburg, FL: Three Pines Press, 2013.

Abstract: Empowered Writing explores the inherent powers of Chinese talismans, petitions, registers, and holy scriptures, presenting a systematic study of their exorcistic and apotropaic properties. The book divides into three parts: tallies, petitions, and scriptures—all inherently empowered since they originate from the very same primordial energy as Dao, the heavens, and highest gods. Tallies emerge as certificates of legitimation, used both in the imperial government and in religion. Petitions and registers, on the other hand, are writings addressed to higher ranking spirits to control demons, disease, and misfortunes. Scriptures, third, contain power even in their physical presence: entrained with superior spiritual beings, they can exorcize evil spirits and negative energies. This feature holds also true in Buddhism, where the readers of sutras can count on the support of unseen guardian buddhas and bodhisattvas. Using a vast arsenal of original sources, the book traces the unfolding and transformation of empowered writing from the Warring States period through the Six Dynasties, closely examining the different kinds of writing, their uses, and interpretation as well as relating uniquely Daoist features to imperial and Buddhist usages. The book is pathbreaking in its endeavor and stunning in its depth of analyis. It is a must for all China historians and scholars of religion. (Source: publisher's website)


Bunkenborg, Mikkel. "Popular Religion Inside Out: Gender and Ritual Revival in a Hebei Township." China Information 26.3 (2012): 359-376.


Capitanio, Joshua. “Dragon Kings and Thunder Gods: Rainmaking, Magic, and Ritual in Medieval Chinese Religion.” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, 2008.

Abstract: This dissertation demonstrates that the application of ritual methods to ensure timely rainfall was an important element of religious Practice in China from antiquity through the medieval period. Drawing on a broad range of sources, I show how rainmaking ritual, performed by kings, emperors, priests, and ritual specialists, continued to develop from its roots in the earliest recorded forms of Chinese religion. As religious beliefs underwent significant change in ancient and medieval China, the importance of rainmaking persisted, even as its techniques were re-imagined by successive generations of ritual practitioners, particularly within the developing traditions of Buddhism and Daoism. Thus, this study provides an opportunity to observe the evolution of a particular ritual practice across a broad span of time and a wide spectrum of religious beliefs and social contexts. Furthermore, this study shows that activities such as rainmaking, in which practitioners attempt, through the use of various ritual forms, to harness extra-human or supernatural forces for the purpose of effecting, some sort of beneficial change, constituted a fundamental aspect of Chinese religion. While such practices are often deemed by scholars as belonging to the category of "magic," I argue against such a designation in this dissertation.


Cave, Roderick, Chinese Paper Offerings. Hong Kong: Oxford University Press, 1998.


Chace, Paul G. "On Dying American: Cantonese Rites for Death and Ghost-Spirits in an American City." In: Sue Fawn Chung & Priscilla Wegers, eds. Chinese American Death Rituals. Lanham: AltaMira Press, 2005. Pp.47-79.


Chan, Hong Y. "The Hungry Ghost Festival in Singapore: Getai (Songs on Stage) in the Lunar Seventh Month." Religions 11, no. 7 (2020): 356. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11070356

Abstract: This paper examines the interaction between state power and the everyday life of ordinary Chinese Singaporeans by looking at the Hungry Ghost Festival as a contested category. The paper first develops a theoretical framework building on previous scholars' examination of the contestation of space and the negotiation of power between state authorities and the public in Singapore. This is followed by a short review of how the Hungry Ghost Festival was celebrated in earlier times in Singapore. The next section of the paper looks at the differences between the celebrations in the past and in contemporary Singapore. The following section focuses on data found in local newspapers on Getai events of the 2017 Lunar Seventh Month. Finally, I identify characteristics of the Ghost Festival in contemporary Singapore by looking at how Getai is performed around Singapore and woven into the fabric of Singaporean daily life.


Chan, Margaret. Ritual is Theatre, Theatre is Ritual: Tang-ki Chinese Spirit Medium Worship. Singapore: Singapore: Wee Kim Wee Centre, Singapore Management University, SNP Reference, 2006.


Chan, Selina Ching. “Heritage Conservation and Ethnic Associations: The Chaozhou Hungry Ghosts Festival in Hong Kong.” In Heritage and Religion in East Asia, edited by Shu-Li Wang, Michael Rowlands, and Yujie Zhu, 125–147. London: Routledge, 2021. 


Chao, Paul, "Fire Ancestor Worship in China." Chinese Culture 39(1998)3: 1-19.


Chau, Adam Yuet. "Hosting Funerals and Temple Festivals: Folk Event Productions in Rural China." Asian Anthropology 3(2004): 39-70.


Chau, Adam Yuet. "Mao’s Travelling Mangoes: Food as Relic in Revolutionary China." Past & Present 2010, Supplement 5: 256-275. Online edition.


Chau, Adam Yuet. “Modalities of Doing Religion.” In Chinese Religious Life, edited by David A. Palmer, Glenn Shive, and Philip L. Wickeri. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. Pp.67-84.


Chau, Adam Yuet; G. Lowes Dickinson. “Modalities of Doing Religion and Ritual Polytropy: Evaluating the Religious Market Model from the Perspective of Chinese Religious History.” Religion 41.4 (2011): 547-568.

Abstract: This article examines the Chinese religious landscape through the lenses of ‘modalities of doing religion’ and ‘ritual polytropy’ and explores the implications such different conceptualisations might bring to the religious-market model. It argues that in Chinese religious culture one can identify five modalities of doing religion (the scriptural/discursive, the self-cultivational, the liturgical, the immediate-practical and the relational), each cutting across broader, conceptually aggregated religious traditions such as Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism. Instead of competition between membership-based churches, there is more typically competition within each modality, especially the liturgical modality. Religious pluralism in China is not manifested as the co-existence of, and competition between, confession- and membership-based denominations and churches, but rather as the co-existence of, and competition between, various ritual-service providers with different (though sometimes convergent) liturgical programmes. (Source: journal)


Chau, Adam Yuet. "Script Fundamentalism: The Practice of Cherishing Written Characters (Lettered Paper xizizhi) in the Age of Literati Decline and Commercial Revolution." In Chinese and European Perspectives on the Study of Chinese Popular Religions, edited by Philip Clart. Taipei: Boyang Publishing, 2012. Pp.129-167.

Abstract: The practice of cherishing written characters (xizizhi) has a long history. Many late imperial morality books (shanshu) included xizizhi as one of the many merit-generating practices that people should be engaged in. Xizizhi often appeared as an item in ledgers of merits and demerits (gongguoge). It later became attached to the worship of Lord Wenchang (Wenchang Dijun), who was the patron deity of candidates for the imperial civil service examination. In the early 20th century, however, xizizhi acquired a new significance. With the abolition of the imperial civil service examination in 1905 and the introduction of ”Western Learning,” the traditional literati lost their sense of purpose and superiority and the foundation of their identity. As a response to such sudden transformation, many grassroots literati resorted to advocating practices that emphasized the role of writing and the Chinese language, which allowed them to recreate a sense of purpose and identity and to maintain or regain respectability in local society. Spirit-writing became increasingly popular among local literati groups, often connected to newly- established redemptive societies. On the other hand, xizizhi became an all-purpose devotional practice, as a new generation of advocates fetishized the Chinese written language as the foundation of Chinese civilization. More interestingly, merchants and commerce featured more prominently in stories of divine retribution relating to xizizhi practices, which more than hinted at the impact of the commercial and consumer revolutions in the early 20th century on popular religiosity. In other words, what seems like a very old traditional practice (xizizhi) was deployed and repackaged strategically to respond to a very modern situation. (Source: book)


Chau, Adam Yuet. "A Different Kind of Religious Diversity: Ritual Service Providers and Consumers in China." In: Religious Diversity in Chinese Thought, ed. by Perry Schmidt-Leukel & Joachim Gentz, 141-154. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.


Chau, Adam Yuet. “Religious Subjectification: The Practice of Cherishing Written Characters and Being a Ciji (Tzu Chi) Person.” In: Chinese Popular Religion: Linking Fieldwork and Theory: Papers from the Fourth International Conference on Sinology. Taipei: Academia Sinica, 2013. Pp.75-113.

Abstract: When looking at a particular religious tradition we can heuristically distinguish two crucial aspects. One aspect is the system of ideas, symbols, and ritual practices that make up this particular religious tradition. The other aspect is the mechanisms through which people mobilize this system of ideas, symbols, and ritual practices and are in turn mobilized by it. This second aspect we can call religious subjectification, i.e., how a certain kind of person (i.e. religious subject) is made through the dynamic interaction between “the system” and “the individual.” Religious subjectification as a model for understanding religious life works best when we look at religious initiatives that consciously aim at transforming people’s thinking and behavior and thus interpellating people into particular kinds of religious subjects. In this article I will use two cases to illustrate this kind of formation of religious subjects: the practice of cherishing written characters and lettered paper (xizizhi) and “being a Ciji person” (zuo cijiren). (Source: article)


Chau, Adam Yuet. "Ritual Terroir: The Generation of Site-Specific Vitality." Archives des sciences sociales des religions, no. 193 (2021): 25–54.

Abstract: The French term "terroir" has entered the English language carrying more or less the same viticultural and culinary references. Despite its close English-language cousin "terrain" and "territory", terroir is a lot more than things having to do with the earth. It is a particular and dynamic "compositional assemblage" (Chau, 2012) of all elements that contribute to the unique qualities of a product (be it wine, foie gras or mushroom): climate, weather, topography, soil, precipitation, drainage, exposure to sunlight (duration, direction, intensity, etc.), disasters, ecology (including flora and fauna), human intervention (e.g. irrigation, fertilisers, weeding, introduction of cultivar and other bio-elements, fermentation and other procedures, craftsmanship and handling), etc. The deliberate, modern-day construction and privileging of terroir is a reaction against "soulless" mass production, against food and drink with no traceable origin because they have been industrially produced (with the help of globally-produced chemical fertilisers and feed), mixed and packaged. I propose to look at the production of power-laden religious sites through the lens of "ritual terroir", using examples from Chinese religious practices (drawn from my own fieldwork). Just like food and drink, some religious practices are extremely translocalisable and, even as they are always adapted to specific local conditions as they spread across the globe (e.g. Zen Buddhism, evangelical Christianity, Tibetan Buddhism, post-colonial and post-Cold-War Islam), many thrive precisely because of a delinking between the practices and any particular site or terroir. On the other hand, some other religious practices are resolutely spatially grounded in the production of specific religious sites and draw spiritual power from these sites. I will present the case of the Dragon King Valley (Longwanggou) in northcentral China to illustrate the workings of ritual terroir. Like all local cults, the reputation and efficacy of the Black Dragon King depend on an ensemble of site-specific features that combine geographical and human input.


Chen, Fan Pen. “Ritual Roots of the Theatrical Prohibitions of Late-Imperial China.” Asia Major 20.1 (2007): 25-44.

Chen, Jiaren and Benoît Vermander. "Rituals, Spacetime and Family in a 'Native' Community of North Shanghai." Religions 10, no. 10 (2019).

Abstract: China's dramatic process of urbanization has profound influence on the country's religious communities, practices and psyche. This article focuses on a village of North Shanghai that has been integrated into urban life through demolition and relocation at the turn of the century. It follows the evolution of the ritual practices of its former inhabitants until present day. It underlines the fracture that has occurred in the way jia (home/family) was recognized and lived as a focus of ritual activities, and it documents the subsequent enlargement of the ritual sphere that is taking place. The choice of specific temples as privileged places of pilgrimage and ancestral worship is shown to be the result of a combination of factors, relational, geographical, and financial. The study also highlights the fact that the plasticity and inventiveness of the practices observed still testify to the resilience of the "home" concept, whatever the transformation it undergoes, and it links such resilience to the agency of women. By closely following the dynamic of ritual activities in the everyday life of the community under study, the article aims at providing a pragmatic and evolving approach to what "Chinese religion" is becoming in an urban context.



Chen, Ningning; Jinwen Chen, and Kenneth Dean. „Religion in Times of Crisis: Innovative Lay Responses and Temporal-Spatial Reconfigurations of Temple Rituals in COVID-19 China.” cultural geographies 2021: 1–8.

Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about massive changes in religious landscapes across the world. Recent research has focused on whether religions create problems or are sources of solution or support in these extraordinary times. Although some studies document religious leaders’ and institutions’ innovative responses to preserve ritual practices and foster members’ sense of belonging, they fail to highlight lay practitioners’ bottom-up religious transformations. Noting this, this article draws on the case of Lufeng city in south China to examine how local residents inventively reconfigured the temporal-spatiality of their ritual practices during temple lock-downs. Through an ethnographic-style exploration, we reveal multi-faceted spatial changes in the ritual performance, including the reconfiguration of home spaces, the performance of worship practices outside temple doors and the mobilization of digital spaces of communication to accumulate good fortune. Apart from these spatial strategies, local ritual transformation also produces temporal adaptations. Through these temporal-spatial reconfigurations, local residents innovatively cope with new social circumstances and articulate religion’s continual significance. This study foregrounds an agentive and flexible understanding of religion in times of crisis.


Chen Xi & Hoyt Cleveland Tillman. “Ghosts, Gods, and the Ritual Practice of Local Officials during the Song: With a Focus on Zhu Xi in Nankang Prefecture.” Journal of Song-Yuan Studies 44 (2014): 287-323.


Chen Yi-yuan, "The Drama of Redemption of Vows of the Living (Yangxi) in Sichuan: A Critical Review of Current Research." In: Daniel L. Overmyer [ed.] (with the assistance of Shin-yi Chao), Ethnography in China Today: A Critical Assessment of Methods and Results. Taipei: Yuan-Liou Publishing Co., 2002. Pp.53-66.


Chenivesse, Sandrine, "Écrit démonifuge et territorialité de la mort en Chine. Étude anthropologique du lien." L'Homme 137(1996):61-86.


Cheu Hock Tong, "The Festival of the Nine Emperor Gods in Malaysia. Myth, Ritual, and Symbol." Asian Folklore Studies 55(1996)1:49-72.


Cheung, Neky Tak-Ching. Women’s Ritual in China: Jiezhu (Receiving Buddhist Prayer Beads) Performed by Menopausal Women in Ninghua, Western Fujian. Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2008.


Cheung, Neky Tak-ching. “Women’s Salvation and Collective Order: A Penitential Ritual for Deliverance from the Lake of Blood Performed in Hong Kong.” Journal of Chinese Studies 2014, no. 58: 287-314.


Chipman, Elana. “Our Beigang: Culture Work, Ritual, and Community in a Taiwanese Town.” Ph.D. dissertation, Cornell University, 2007.

Abstract: This dissertation examines the production of locality in Beigang, a rural Taiwanese town, which is a famous popular-religious transnational pilgrimage center for the goddess Mazu. It is based on 14 months of fieldwork research in Taiwan and five months at two related pilgrimage centers in Fujian, China. I focus on two interrelated and mutually constitutive mediating processes through which locality is produced: First, the rituals of Beigang's local territorial cult and of visiting pilgrims; and second, "culture work," a relatively recent form of explicit cultural production through amateur historical and folklore research and related cultural activities. Ritual and culture work can be analyzed as forms of media which mediate between people and place, and between local and trans-local processes and power. I trace the production of identities anchored in Mazu's temple by examining communal and individual practices and the ways in which their discourses of history, tradition, and piety are framed and deployed. Following an introduction, I describe how ritual mediates local identity in Beigang. The next two chapters map historical transformations in Beigang using a regional systems approach. I examine pilgrimage networks and other hierarchical relationships across Taiwan in order to trace Beigang's transformation into an island-wide pilgrimage center. The following chapters examine the practices and discourses of "culture workers." They are co-opted by the state in the construction of an explicitly cultural national narrative, yet also challenge and critique particular local formations of power through their work. Local agents also deploy cultural and ritual practices and discourses through which they gain prestige and other forms of value. Finally, I discuss inter-communal rivalries as expressed through competition between temples and disputes over archaeological artifacts, to reveal local cultural identity practices as forms of boundary making. Religion and culture work have played an important role in Taiwan's largely successful negotiations with pressures of colonialism, modernity and globalization by providing a coherent framework within which the tensions inherent in change are both highlighted and contained. These cultural practices mediate and inscribe local identity. Yet, because they are symbolic systems, they are forever uncanny, contingent, and open to competing interpretations.


Chipman, Elana. "The De-territorialization of Ritual Spheres in Contemporary Taiwan." Asian Anthropology 8 (2009): ??.

Abstract: This article considers the transformations over time of ritual networks centered on the town of Beigang, Taiwan in dialogue with earlier treatments of ritual and social organization. The case of this pilgrimage center supports observations on contemporary Taiwanese ritual and belief spheres, but it also complicates the understanding that contemporary trans-local political and economic processes have strengthened pan-island belief spheres at the expense of local communal ritual organization. Ritual networks in contemporary Taiwan are increasingly de-territorialized, but in Beigang they remain linked to locality, even as worshippers and natives become de-territorialized as individuals in their relationship to Beigang Mazu. Thus, I argue, if a trans-local cult is strong enough, the deity’s perceived powers serves to bolster the local ritual community, as well as to bring outsiders into the fold and keep sojourners linked to it.


Chou, Hansen. “Politics of the Periphery: Religion and Its Place at a City’s Edge in Taiwan.” MA thesis, University of British Columbia, 2009.

Abstract: This thesis explores the recent revival of popular religion in Taiwan through broader anthropological concerns regarding place and space. Swift industrialization and rapid urbanization of past decades have not dissuaded religious practice; instead they have flourished on the island. This study pays specific attention to their proliferation at the urban margins. Drawing on historical and ethnographic data based on field research conducted in 2007, the present work examines the spatial politics of place at a community on the urban periphery, just outside of Taipei in northern Taiwan. More specifically, it analyzes two key sites within the community that locals often evoke as crucial locations in their cultural and social imaginings of place: a cultural heritage district and the local communal temple. It documents various “spatial practices” (de Certeau 1984) of place, and focuses particularly on the divination ritual at the temple. This work draws upon some of the ideas advanced by Henri Lefebvre (1991) in his theorization of urbanization, particularly his notion of “abstract space”: the expanding spaces of homogeneity created in the wake of global capitalism’s spread. By addressing the everyday experiences of space, this thesis addresses the dynamics between histories, affect and place. In all, it argues that, amidst the uncertainties of change brought on by their modern(izing) surroundings, people resort to rituals like divination in hopes to mitigate their maladies and misfortunes. By turning to the past in their attempts to make sense of the present, they further engage in a form of local production.


Chung, Sue Fawn & & Priscilla Wegers, eds. Chinese American Death Rituals. Lanham: AltaMira Press, 2005.

Abstract: [...] Chinese American Death Rituals examines Chinese American funerary rituals and cemeteries from the late nineteenth century until the present in order to understand the importance of Chinese funerary rites and their transformation through time. The authors in this volume discuss the meaning of funerary rituals and their normative dimension and the social practices that have been influenced by tradition. Shaped by individual beliefs, customs, religion, and environment, Chinese Americans have resolved the tensions between assimilation into the mainstream culture and their strong Chinese heritage in a variety of ways. [...] [Source: publisher's website.]


Chung, Sue Fawn, Fred B. Frampton, and Timothy W. Murphy. "Venerate These Bones: Chinese American Funerary and Burial Practices as Seen in Carlin, Elko County, Nevada." In: Sue Fawn Chung & Priscilla Wegers, eds. Chinese American Death Rituals. Lanham: AltaMira Press, 2005. Pp.107-145


Chung, Sue Fawn & Reiko Neizman. "Remembering Ancestors in Hawai'i." In: Sue Fawn Chung & Priscilla Wegers, eds. Chinese American Death Rituals. Lanham: AltaMira Press, 2005. Pp.175-194.


Clarke, Ian, "Ancestor Worship and Identity: Ritual, Interpretation, and Social Normalization in the Malaysian Chinese Community." Sojourn: Social Issues in Southeast Asia 15 (2000)2: 273-295.


Clart, Philip. "Generals, Pigs, and Immortals: Views and Uses of History in Chinese Morality Books." Journal of Ritual Studies 19(2005)1: 99-113.


Cohen, Erik. “Kuan To: The Vegetarian Festival in a Peripheral Southern Thai Shrine.” In: Pattana Kitiarsa [ed.], Religious Commodifications in Asia: Marketing Gods. London: Routledge, 2008. Pp.68-88.


Cohen, Paul A., History in Three Keys: The Boxers as Event, Experience, and Myth. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997. See esp. ch.4: "Magic and Female Pollution."


Cook, Constance A. "Moonshine and Millet: Feasting and Purification Rituals in Ancient China." In Roel Sterckx [ed.], Of Tripod and Palate: Food, Politics, and Religion in Traditional China. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. Pp. 9-33.


Crowder, Linda Sun. "The Chinese Mortuary Tradition in San Francisco Chinatown." In: Sue Fawn Chung & Priscilla Wegers, eds. Chinese American Death Rituals. Lanham: AltaMira Press, 2005. Pp.195-240.


Davis, Edward L., Society and the Supernatural in Song China. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2001.

Abstract: Society and the Supernatural in Song China is at once a meticulous examination of spirit possession and exorcism in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and a social history of the full panoply of China's religious practices and practitioners at the moment when she was poised to dominate the world economy. Although the Song dynasty (960-1276) is often identified with the establishment of Confucian orthodoxy, Edward Davis demonstrates the renewed vitality of the dynasty's Taoist, Buddhist, and local religious traditions. (Source: publisher's webpage)


Dean, Kenneth, "China's Second Government: Regional Ritual Systems in Southeast China." In: Wang Ch'iu-kui, Chuang Ying-chang & Chen Chung-min [eds.], Shehui, minzu yu wenhua zhanyan guoji yantaohui lunwenji. Taipei: Hanxue Yanjiu Zhongxin, 2001. Pp.77-107.


Dean, Kenneth, "The Masked Exorcistic Theatre of Anhui and Jiangxi." In: Daniel L. Overmyer [ed.] (with the assistance of Shin-yi Chao), Ethnography in China Today: A Critical Assessment of Methods and Results. Taipei: Yuan-Liou Publishing Co., 2002 Pp.183-197.


Dean, Kenneth, "Alternative Approaches to Chinese Ritual." Journal of Chinese Religions 31(2003): 151-166. [Note: This is a review of Robert Hymes' 2002 publication, Way and Byway (University of California Press).]


Dean, Kenneth & Zheng Zhenman. Ritual Alliances of the Putian Plain. Volume One: Historical Introduction to the Return of the Gods. Volume Two: A Survey of Village Temples and Ritual Activities. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2010.

Abstract: Making ingenious use of a wide variety of sources, and old as well as modern technical resources, Kenneth Dean and Zheng Zhenman here set a new standard for an histoire totale for a coherently well-defined cultural region in China. At the same time it deals in-depth with the ongoing negotiation of modernity in Chinese village rituals. Over the past thirty years, local popular religion has been revived and re-invented in the villages of the irrigated alluvial plain of Putian, Fujian, China. Volume 1 provides a historical introduction to the formation of 153 regional ritual alliances made up of 724 villages. Early popular cults, Ming lineages, Qing multi-village alliances, late Qing spirit-medium associations, 20th century state attacks on local religion, and the role of Overseas Chinese and local communities in rebuilding the temple networks are discussed. Volume 2 surveys the current population, lineages, temples, gods, and annual rituals of these villages. Maps of each ritual alliance, the distribution of major cults and lineages, are included. (Source: publisher's website)


Dean, Kenneth; Lamarre, Thomas. "Ritual matters." In: Lamarre, Thomas; Kang, Nae-hui, eds. Impacts of Modernities. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2004. Pp. 255-292


Dean, Kenneth, and Zheng Zhenman. "The Rise of a 'Temple-Centric' Society in Putian in the Song and Later Transformations of the Ritual Sphere." Minsu quyi, no. 205 (2019): 103–159.


DeBernardi, Jean, "Ritual, Language, and Social Memory in a Nineteenth-Century Chinese Secret Sworn Brotherhood." In: Linguistic Form and Social Action (= Michigan Discussions in Anthropology 13), 1998. Pp.103-125.


DeBernardi, Jean, Rites of Belonging: Memory, Modernity, and Identity in a Malaysian Chinese Community. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004.

Abstract: In what is today Malaysia, the British established George Town on Penang Island in 1786, and encouraged Chinese merchants and laborers to migrate to this vibrant trading port. In the multicultural urban settlement that developed, the Chinese immigrants organized their social life through community temples like the Guanyin Temple (Kong Hok Palace) and their secret sworn brotherhoods. These community associations assumed exceptional importance precisely because they were a means to establish a social presence for the Chinese immigrants, to organize their social life, and to display their economic prowess. The Confucian "cult of memory" also took on new meanings in the early twentieth century as a form of racial pride. In twentieth-century Penang, religious practices and events continued to draw the boundaries of belonging in the idiom of the sacred.

Part I of Rites of Belonging focuses on the conjuncture between Chinese and British in colonial Penang. The author closely analyzes the 1857 Guanyin Temple Riots and conflicts leading to the suppression of the Chinese sworn brotherhoods. Part II investigates the conjuncture between Chinese and Malays in contemporary Malaysia, and the revitalization in the 1970s and 1980s of Chinese popular religious culture. [Source: publisher's website]


DeBernardi, Jean. " Wudang Mountain and Mount Zion in Taiwan: Syncretic Processes in Space, Ritual Performance, and Imagination." Asian Journal of Social Science 37.1 (2009): 138-162.

Abstract: In this paper, I develop a detailed consideration of ways in which Chinese religious practitioners, including Daoists, Christians, and spirit mediums, deploy syncretism in complex fields of practice. Rather than focusing on doctrinal blending, this study emphasises the ways in which these practitioners combine elements from diverse religious traditions through the media of ritual performance, visual representation, story, and landscape. After considering the diverse ways in which syncretic processes may be deployed in a field of practice, the paper investigates three ethnographic cases, exploring ritual co-celebration at Wudang Mountain in South-central China, charismatic Christian practices in Singapore, and the recent development of Holy Mount Zion as a Christian pilgrimage site in Taiwan.


DeBernardi, Jean. "On Women and Chinese Ritual Food Culture in Penang and Singapore." Min-su ch'ü-i / Journal of Chinese Ritual, Theatre and Folklore 168 (2010): 111-155.


DeBernardi, Jean. “Commodifying Blessings: Celebrating the Double-Yang Festival in Penang, Malaysia, and Wudang Mountain, China.” In: Pattana Kitiarsa [ed.], Religious Commodifications in Asia: Marketing Gods. London: Routledge, 2008. Pp.49-67.


De Pee, Christian. The Writing of Weddings in Middle-Period China: Text and Ritual Practice in the Eighth through Fourteenth Centuries. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2007.

Abstract: Approaching writing as a form of cultural practice and understanding text as an historical object, this book not only recovers elements of the ritual practice of Middle-Period weddings, but also reassesses the relationship between texts and the Middle-Period past. Its fourfold narrative of the writing of weddings and its spirited engagement with the texts--ritual manuals, engagement letters, nuptial songs, calendars and almanacs, and legal texts--offer a form and style for a cultural history that accommodates the particularities of the sources of the Chinese imperial past. [Source: publisher's website]


Ebner von Eschenbach, Silvia Freiin. “Managing Floods and Droughts by Invocating the Water Spirits: Analyzing Prayers for Rain (daoyu 禱雨) and Prayers for a Clear Sky (qiqing 祈晴). With Some Examples from Local Source Materials of the Song 宋 Dynasty (960-1279).” Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 169, no. 1 (2019): 205-229.


Ebrey, Patricia B., "The Incorporation of Portraits into Chinese Ancestral Rites." In: Jens Kreinath & Constance Hartung [eds.], The Dynamics of Changing Rituals: The Transformation of Religious Rituals within Their Social and Cultural Context. New York: Peter Lang, 2004. (Toronto Studies in Religion, 29) Pp. 129-140.


Eisenhofer-Halim, Hannelore, "Menschenopfer und Totengeleit in der Shang-Zeit." Monumenta Serica 49(2001): 181-205.


Epstein, Maram. “Writing Emotions: Ritual Innovation as Emotional Expression.” Nan nü 11.2 (2009): 155-196.

Abstract: This article examines the chronological biographies of the Qing ritualists Yan Yuan (1635-1704) and Li Gong (1659-1733) to witness how they negotiated and wrote about the ritual and emotional priorities in their relationships with various family members. It argues that rather than being just a form of ritual duty, filial piety was a core emotion at the center of many people's affective and spiritual lives. Although the conservative nature of nianpu (chronological biography) as a genre meant that some of the most intimate relationships in these two men's lives would get passed over in silence, the recording of their manipulation of ritual forms allowed them an indirect means of expressing their affective bonds.


Fan Lizhu, "A Review of Minxiang: Civil Incense Worship in Liaoning, China by Ren Guangwei." In: Daniel L. Overmyer [ed.] (with the assistance of Shin-yi Chao), Ethnography in China Today: A Critical Assessment of Methods and Results. Taipei: Yuan-Liou Publishing Co., 2002. Pp.297-309.


Fang Ling, "Les médecins laïques contre l'exorcisme sous les Ming. La disparition de l'enseignement de la thérapeutique rituelle dans le cursus de l'Institut impérial de la médecine." Extrême-Orient, Extrême-Occident 24(2002): 31-45.


Faure, David, "State and Rituals in Modern China: Comments on the 'Civil Society' Debate." In: Wang Ch'iu-kui, Chuang Ying-chang & Chen Chung-min [eds.], Shehui, minzu yu wenhua zhanyan guoji yantaohui lunwenji. Taipei: Hanxue Yanjiu Zhongxin, 2001. Pp.509-536.


Feuchtwang, Stephan. "Hopes, Fears and Excitement: the Authority of a Local Festival." In: Lin, Tsong-yuan [ed.], Proceedings of the International Conference on Anthropology and the Museum = Renleixue yu bowuguan guoji xueshu yantaohui lunwen zhuanji. Taipei: Taiwan Museum, 1995. Pp. 101-118. [Note: on a Mazu festival in Guandu]


Feuchtwang, Stephan. "On Religious Ritual as Deference and Communicative Excess." Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 13.1 (2007): 57-72.

Abstract: I shall argue that most religious ritual is a performance that not only invokes but also performs communication. The ethnographic material from which I derive this argument is from China, in particular the temple rituals of local festivals. My argument is that a deep obeisance of welcome and departure that is both like and not like the normal ritual of greeting marks a religious from a non-religious ritual occasion and place. It is a ritual doubling that makes the honoured guest also a host. Religious ritual is a medium, and as a medium it is double in another sense. It is deference and deferral, a repeated transmission of obeisance to authority that has the authority of repetition. As well as doubling, religious ritual is excessively communicative. The medium is a performance not only of invitation and departure but also of communicative response, and it repeats this communication as a test of communicative response over and over again. Religious ritual performs both the opening and closing of communication, both the seeking and the responsive reciprocation of gift offerings with bounteousness. It is shadowed by the possibility of no response, of giving offence, of being abandoned. This possibility is acknowledged by being prevented, while the possibility that the performers are their own responders is disavowed. [Source: journal]


Feuchtwang, Stephan. The Anthropology of Religion, Charisma and Ghosts: Chinese Lessons for Adequate Theory. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2010.

Abstract: It has been said that Chinese government was, until the republican period, government through li. Li is the untranslatable word covering appropriate conduct toward others, from the guest rituals of imperial diplomacy to the hospitality offered to guests in the homes of ordinary people. It also covers the centring of self in relation to the flows and objects in a landscape or a built environment, including the world beyond the spans of human and other lives. It is prevalent under the republican regimes of China and Taiwan in the forming and maintaining of personal relations, in the respect for ancestors, and especially in the continuing rituals of address to gods, of command to demons, and of charity to neglected souls. The concept of ?religion’ does not grasp this, neither does the concept of ?ritual’, yet li undoubtedly refers to a figuration of a universe and of place in the world as encompassing as any body of rite and magic or of any religion. Through studies of Chinese gods and ghosts this book challenges theories of religion based on a supreme god and that god’s prophets, as well as those like Hinduism based on mythical figures from epics, and offers another conception of humanity and the world, distinct from that conveyed by the rituals of other classical anthropological theories. (Source: publisher's website)


Formoso, Bernard, "Hsiu-Kou-Ku: the Ritual Refining of Restless Ghosts Among the Chinese in Thailand." Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Incorporating Man 2(1996)2:217-234.


Formoso, Bernard, "Le jambe pour le coeur. Les prestations matrimoniales chez les Teochiu de Thaïlande." L'Homme 141 (1997): 55-82.


Formoso, Bernard. "Ethnicity and Shared Meanings: A Case Study of the 'Orphaned Bones' Ritual in Mainland China and Overseas." American Anthropologist 111.4 (2009): 492–503.

Abstract: Several theories of ethnicity emphasize the analysis of intergroup relations. They neglect, however, the conflation of ideas and values structuring these relations—notably the cross-cultural aggregates of shared cultural meanings that underlie forms of cooperation and competition between interacting groups. In this article, I explore this kind of process through a multisite ethnography of the Xiu gugu (“refining of orphaned bones”), a ritual that the Chaozhou people of northeast Guangdong province, an ethnic subgroup of the Han, perform periodically. The celebration of this rite in Chaozhou is compared to versions resulting of the ritual in Malay Muslim and Thai Buddhist contexts. In the latter case, close conceptions of malevolent death underlie a fascinating interethnic cooperation, with most of the unfortunate dead whose bones are “refined” during the Chaozhou ritual being Thai.

Frick, Johann, "Wiederversöhnung des verletzten Erdgeistes: ein Brauch im chinesisch-tibetischen Grenzgebiet." In: Johann Frick, Zwischen Himmel und Erde. Riten und Brauchtum in Nordwestchina. Sankt Augustin: Academia Verlag, 1995. Pp.225-231.


Galvany, Albert. "Death and Ritual Wailing in Early China: Around the Funeral of Lao Dan." Asia Major, Third Series, 25.2 (2012): 15-42.


Goossaert, Vincent. L'interdit du boeuf en Chine. Agriculture, éthique et sacrifice. Paris: Collège de France, 2005. Bibliothèque de l'Institut des Hautes Études Chinoises, vol. XXXIV.

Abstract: L'interdit du boeuf (ne pas tuer de bovin, ne pas manger leur chair) se forme entre le 9e et le 13e siècle, en même temps que la religion chinoise moderne dont il est indissociable. Si la justification de cette nouvelle règle éthique se place d'abord au niveau de l'économie agricole -- les bovins, symboles fragiles de la civilisation céréalière chinoise, sont nos compagnons de travail -- la très abondante littérature (traités, poèmes, romans, théâtre, révélation ...) qui exhorte les lecteurs à ne pas tuer et manger les animaux les plus proches de l'homme relie cet interdit à de multiples enjeux: les règles de pureté rituelle (est-il nécessaire d'être végétarien pour être pur?), le choix des animaux sacrificiels (que mangent les dieux?), l'éthique du respect de la vie (tous les animaux sont-ils égaux?). Certains respectent l'interdit, des activistes en faisant même une croisade morale; d'autres le bravent, se démarquant par là-même du reste de la société. L'interdit du boeuf se révèle ainsi comme une perspective inédite et fascinante pour comprendre certains modes de fonctionnement de la société chinoise à la fin de la période impériale: qui dicte les règles éthiques et rituelles: les lettrés, les religieux bouddhistes et taoïstes, les leaders des communautés locales? Finalement, en Chine comme ailleurs, tuer et manger contribuent à ordonner la société. [Source: publisher's website]


Goossaert, Vincent. "The Beef Taboo and the Sacrificial Structure of Late Imperial Chinese Society." In Roel Sterckx [ed.], Of Tripod and Palate: Food, Politics, and Religion in Traditional China. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. Pp. 237-248.


Goossaert, Vincent. "Les reliques en Chine." In Les objets de la mémoire, ed. Philippe Borgeaud & Youri Volokhine. Bern: Peter Lang, 2005. Pp. 181-191 (Studia Religiosa Helvetica 2004/2005).


Goossaert, Vincent. "Resident Specialists and Temple Managers in Late Imperial China." Minsu quyi 153 (2006): 25-68.


Goossaert, Vincent. "Les animaux interdits de consommation dans la religion chinoise moderne, 16e-21e siècle." Les Cahiers de l’OCHA 12 (2007): Pp. 103-111.


Goossaert, Vincent. “A Question of Control: Licensing Local Ritual Specialists in Jiangnan, 1850-1950.” In Xinyang, shijian yu wenhua tiaoshi. Proceeding of the Fourth International Sinology Conference. Taipei: Academia Sinica, 2013. Pp. 569-604.


Greenwood, Roberta S. "Old Rituals in New Lands: Bringing the Ancestors to America." In: Sue Fawn Chung & Priscilla Wegers, eds. Chinese American Death Rituals. Lanham: AltaMira Press, 2005. Pp.241-262.


Guo, Qitao. Ritual Opera and Mercantile Lineage: The Confucian Transformation of Popular Culture in Late Imperial Huizhou. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2005.

Abstract: This book analyzes Confucian ideology as culture and culture as history by exploring the interplay between popular ritual performance of the opera Mulian and gentrified mercantile lineages in late imperial Huizhou. Mulian, originally a Buddhist tale featuring the monk Mulian's journey through the underworld to save his mother, underwent a Confucian transformation in the sixteenth century against a backdrop of vast socioeconomic, intellectual, cultural, and religious changes. The author shows how local elites appropriated the performance of Mulian, turning it into a powerful medium for conveying orthodox values and religious precepts and for negotiating local social and gender issues altered by the rising money economy. The sociocultural approach of this historical study lifts Mulian out of the exorcistic-dramatic-ethnographic milieu to which it is usually consigned. This new approach enables the author to develop an alternative interpretation of Chinese popular culture and the Confucian tradition, which in turn sheds significant new light upon the social history of late imperial China. [Source: publisher's website]


Haar, Barend J. ter, Ritual and Mythology of the Chinese Triads: Creating an Identity. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1998.


Haar, Barend J. ter. Telling Stories: Witchcraft and Scapegoating in Chinese History. Leiden: Brill, 2006.

Abstract: This book analyzes the role of oral stories in Chinese witch-hunts. Successive chapters deal with the implications of Chinese versions of the Little Red Riding Hood story; the use of parts of the adult human body, children and foetuses, to draw out their life-force; attacks by mysterious creatures, causing open wounds, suffocation, the loss of hair and the like; the presence of a Drought Demon in the corpses of recently deceased women; and finally the emperor forcibly recruiting unmarried women for his harem. Of interest to historians and anthropologists working on oral traditions, folklore and witch-hunts (also from a comparative perspective), but also to those working on anti-Christian movements and the intersection of popular fears and political history in China. [Source: publisher's website]


Haar, Barend J. ter. "The Dragon Flower Teachings and the Practice of Ritual." Minsu quyi (Journal of Chinese Ritual, Theatre and Folklore) 163 (2009): 117-159.


Haar, Barend ter. Religious Culture and Violence in Traditional China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019.

Abstract: The basis of Chinese religious culture, and with that many aspects of daily life, was the threat and fear of demonic attacks. These were inherently violent and could only be counteracted by violence as well - even if this reactive violence was masked by euphemisms such as execution, expulsion, exorcisms and so on. At the same time, violence was a crucial dimension of the maintenance of norms and values, for instance in sworn agreements or in beliefs about underworld punishment. Violence was also an essential aspect of expressing respect through sacrificial gifts of meat (and in an earlier stage of Chinese culture also human flesh) and through a culture of auto-mutilation and ritual suicide. At the same time, conventional indigenous terms for violence such as bao 暴 were not used for most of these practices since they were not experienced as such, but rather justified as positive uses of physical force.


Hansen, Valerie, Negotiating Daily Life in Traditional China. How Ordinary People Used Contracts, 600-1400. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995. See especially Part II: "Contracting with the Gods", pp.149-242.


Harper, Donald, "Spellbinding." In: Lopez, Donald S., Jr. [ed.], Religions of China in Practice. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996. Pp.241-250.


Harper, Donald. "Contracts with the Spirit World in Han Common Religion: The Xuning Prayer and Sacrifice Documents of A.D. 79." Cahiers d'Extrême-Asie 14(2004): 227-267.


Heinze, Ruth-Inge. "The Nature and Function of Rituals: Comparing a Singapore Chinese with a Thai Ritual." In Ruth-Inge Heinze [ed.], The Nature and Function of Rituals: Fire from Heaven. Westport, Connecticut: Bergin & Garvey, 2000. Pp. 1-23.


Herrmann-Pillath, Carsten; Guo Man, Feng Xingyuan. Ritual and Economy in Metropolitan China: A Global Social Science Approach. London: Routledge, 2021.

Abstract: This book focuses on Shenzhen, one of China's most globalized metropolises, a leading centre of high-tech industries and, as a melting pot of migrants from all over China, a place of vibrant cultural creativity. While in the early stages of Shenzhen's development this vibrant cultural creativity was associated with the resilience of traditional social structures in Shenzhen's migrant 'urban villages', today these structures undergird dynamic entrepreneurship and urban self-organization throughout Shenzhen, and have gradually merged with the formal structures of urban governance and politics. This book examines these developments, showing how important traditional social structures and traditional Chinese culture have been for China's economic modernization. The book goes on to draw out the implications of this for the future of Chinese culture and Chinese economic engagement in a globalized world.


Ho Yuk-ying. "Bridal Laments in Rural Hong Kong." Asian Folklore Studies 64(2005)1: 53-87.


Ho Ts'ui-p'ing, "Ritual Literalized: A Critical Review of Ritual Studies on the National Minorities in Guangxi, Guizhou, Hunan and Sichuan." In: Daniel L. Overmyer [ed.] (with the assistance of Shin-yi Chao), Ethnography in China Today: A Critical Assessment of Methods and Results. Taipei: Yuan-Liou Publishing Co., 2002. Pp.135-155.


Holm, David, "A Review of the Celebration of the Bodhisattva Ritual of the Vernacular Priests of the Zou Lineage in Poji Township, Zhenxiong County, Zhaotong Region, Yunnaan by Guo Siju and Wang Yong." In: Daniel L. Overmyer [ed.] (with the assistance of Shin-yi Chao), Ethnography in China Today: A Critical Assessment of Methods and Results. Taipei: Yuan-Liou Publishing Co., 2002. Pp.109-116.


Holm, David, "A Review of the Yangxi of Guizhou: The Theatrical Troupe of the Deng Lineage in Dashang Village, Limu Township, Luodian by Huangfu Chongqing." In: Daniel L. Overmyer [ed.] (with the assistance of Shin-yi Chao), Ethnography in China Today: A Critical Assessment of Methods and Results. Taipei: Yuan-Liou Publishing Co., 2002. Pp.117-127.


Holm, David, "A Review of the Celebration of the Bodhisattva Ritual of the Han Chinese in Poji Township, Zhenxiong County, Yunnan by Ma Chaokai." In: Daniel L. Overmyer [ed.] (with the assistance of Shin-yi Chao), Ethnography in China Today: A Critical Assessment of Methods and Results. Taipei: Yuan-Liou Publishing Co., 2002. Pp.129-132.


Holm, David, "A Review of Pleasing the Nuo Gods in Cengong County, Guizhou." In: Daniel L. Overmyer [ed.] (with the assistance of Shin-yi Chao), Ethnography in China Today: A Critical Assessment of Methods and Results. Taipei: Yuan-Liou Publishing Co., 2002. Pp.171-180.


Holm, David, "The Death of Tiaoxi (the 'Leaping Play'): Ritual Theatre in the Northwest of China." Modern Asian Studies 37(2003)4: 863-884.


Hong, Jeehee. “Exorcism from the Streets to the Tomb: An Image of the Judge and Minions in the Xuanhua Liao Tomb No.7.” Archives of Asian Art 63 (2013): 1-25.


Hou Jie, "Mulian Drama: A Commentary on Current Research and Source Materials." In: Daniel L. Overmyer [ed.] (with the assistance of Shin-yi Chao), Ethnography in China Today: A Critical Assessment of Methods and Results. Taipei: Yuan-Liou Publishing Co., 2002 Pp.23-48.


Hsieh Shu-Wei. “Possession and Ritual: Daoist and Popular Healing in Taiwan.” Journal of Daoist Studies 9 (2016): 73-100.

Abstract: This paper focuses on the everyday realities of religious healing cultures in the particular ethnographic context of Taiwan. In order to understand therapeutic aspects of religion in both the traditional and contemporary contexts as well as its local and global manifestations, I explore religious healing in the traditionally observant city of Tainan, which offers three compelling cases studies. From there, I explore the theoretical understanding of spirit, body, and illness in traditional Chinese society. The analysis focuses on healing through ritual and spirit possession, providing vivid accounts of the role spirit possession and ritual performance play in healing individuals and communities in Chinese society. It also increases our understanding of healing and spirit possession in southern Taiwan. Core issues involve the agency of ritual and medium of deities and spirits in accounting for and dealing with a range of psychological and physical trauma. (Source: journal)


Hsu Li-ling, "Three Books on the Duangong Ritual of Jiangbei County, Sichuan by Wang Yue." In: Daniel L. Overmyer [ed.] (with the assistance of Shin-yi Chao), Ethnography in China Today: A Critical Assessment of Methods and Results. Taipei: Yuan-Liou Publishing Co., 2002. Pp.67-73.


Hung Lichien. “Ritual Healing in Taiwan: The Rite for Concealing the Soul.” Journal of Daoist Studies 12 (2019): 123-140.


Hymes, Robert, "A Jiao Is a Jiao Is a? Thoughts on the Meaning of a Ritual." In: Theodore Huters, R. Bin Wong, and Pauline Yu [eds.], Culture & State in Chinese History: Conventions, Accommodations, and Critiques. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1997. Pp.129-160.


Ikels, Charlotte. "Serving the Ancestors, Serving the State: Filial Piety and Death Ritual in Contemporary Guangzhou." In: Charlotte Ikels [ed.], Filial Piety: Practice and Discourse in Contemporary East Asia. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004. Pp.88-105.


James, Jean M., "The Eastern Han Offering Shrine: A Functional Study." Archives of Asian Art 51(1999): 16-29.


Ji, Yiwen. „The Hainanese Temples of Singapore: A Case Study of the Hougang Shui Wei Sheng Niang Temple and Its Lantern Festival Celebration.“ Religions 11, no. 7 (2020): 350. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11070350

Abstract: Shui Wei Sheng Niang (水尾圣娘) Temple is located within a united temple at 109a, Hougang Avenue 5, Singapore. Shui Wei Sheng Niang is a Hainanese goddess. the worship of whom is widespread in Hainanese communities in South East Asia. This paper examines a specific Hainanese temple and how its rituals reflect the history of Hainanese immigration to Singapore. The birthday rites of the goddess (Lantern Festival Celebration) are held on the 4th and 14th of the first lunar month. This paper also introduces the life history and ritual practices of a Hainanese Daoist master and a Hainanese theater actress.


Jing, Anning, The Water God's Temple of the Guangsheng Monastery: Cosmic Function of Art, Ritual, and Theater. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2001.

Abstract: The 14th century dragon king temple in Southern Shanxi is the only known intact survivor of this ancient Water God institution once existing in every Chinese agricultural community. After describing the history, lay-out and mural paintings of the building, its original Yuan time mural paintings enable the author to depict the ritual of praying for rain, and the actual rain-making of the god. The meaning of the unique painting of a theatrical company is interpreted as to subject and its connections with the ritual of praying for rain. Rainmaking magic is compared with similar practices in other parts of the world (India), and thus suggests a common cosmological basis of Chinese and Indian cultures, and a common pattern of human behaviour and mode of thinking concerning human procreation and food production. (Source: publisher's catalogue)


Johnson, David [ed.], Ritual and Scripture in Chinese Popular Religion. Five Studies. Berkeley, Calif.: Chinese Popular Culture Project, 1995.


Johnson, Ian. "Chasing the Yellow Demon." Journal of Asian Studies 76, no. 1 (2017): 5-24.

Abstract: Author's note: A few years ago, I read David Johnson's Spectacle and Sacrifice: The Ritual Foundations of Village Life in North China. The book immediately caught my attention because it dealt with parts of China that I know well: southern Hebei and eastern Shanxi provinces, where I was conducting research for a new book. Johnson describes festivals that helped bind together communities, and in several cases had information showing that some of them had been revived after the Cultural Revolution. One, particularly, seemed noteworthy: Guyi Village in the south of Hebei Province. This is near the steel-making city of Handan and one of the most polluted parts of China. I had been there several times and was fascinated with the idea that this area could also be home to elaborate, multi-day rituals that seemed otherwise not to exist in North China. According to Johnson's informants, local scholars had visited the village in the 1990s and seen exciting performances of Zhuo Huanggui, or Chasing the Yellow Demon, an exorcistic purging ritual performed at the end of the fifteen-day Chinese New Year's festival. I contacted local officials and academics, who were unsure if the ritual would be performed again. No one, it seemed, had been out to the village in years. So in mid-February 2014, I set off to see if anything was left of these complex performances. (Source: journal)

Jones, Stephen. "Chinese Ritual Music under Mao and Deng." British Journal of Ethnomusicology 8(1999): 27-66.


Jones, Stephen. Plucking the Winds: Lives of Village Musicians in Old and New China. Leiden: CHIME, 2004.

Abstract: This book tells the story of 20th-century China through the eyes of village musicians in north China. Based on extensive fieldwork since 1989, it portrays the lives of several generations of members of an amateur ritual association in South Gaoluo, a village not far from Beijing. The musicians perform solemn chants and music for wind and percussion instruments, serving funerals and Chinese New Year rituals. The reader learns how they have managed to maintain their local ritual traditions amidst massacre, invasion, civil war, famine, political campaigns, theft, destruction, banditry, and religious rivalry (from a Catholic community in the early 1930s).

The book looks beyond cosy and rosy images of modernizing ideology to the realities of local survival, and shows the astonishing resilience and stoic humanity of the musicians and their fellow villagers under all kinds of onslaughts. In a community whose history might seem to have been erased under Maoism, the account becomes a kind of detective story. It also features the author's relationship with the musicians and provides a lively impression of the "spit and sawdust" which are the tribulations and delights of fieldwork in rural China. The account is further enlivened by a CD and many photographs. [Source: publisher]


Jones, Stephen. “Turning a Blind Ear: Bards of Shaanbei.” Chinoperl 27 (2007): 174–208.

Abstract: This article introduces the blind bards of Shaanbei, contrasting the new stories of the Party's model bard Han Qixiang, and the official teams, with the persistent practice of traditional stories, based in ritual practice and healing, among the majority. Since the 1980s, sighted bards have encroached on the blindmen's 'food-bowl', and TV and pop music have dented the bards' popularity. [Source: author]


Jones, Stephen. Ritual and Music of North China: Shawm Bands in Shanxi. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007.

Abstract: The rich local traditions of musical life in rural China are still little known. Music-making in village society is largely ceremonial, and shawm bands account for a significant part of such music. This is the first major ethnographic study of Chinese shawm bands in their ceremonial and social context. Based in a poor county in Shanxi province in northwestern China, Stephen Jones describes the painful maintenance of ceremonial and its music there under Maoism, its revival with the market reforms of the 1980s and its modification under the assault of pop music since the 1990s. Part One of the text explains the social and historical background by outlining the lives of shawm band musicians in modern times. Part Two looks at the main performing contexts of funerals and temple fairs, whilst Part Three discusses musical features such as instruments, scales, and repertories.

Jones, Stephen. In Search of the Folk Daoists of North China. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2010.

Abstract: The living practice of Daoist ritual is still only a small part of Daoist studies. Most of this work focuses on the southeast, with the vast area of north China often assumed to be a tabula rasa for local lay liturgical traditions. This book, based on fieldwork, challenges this assumption. With case studies on parts of Hebei, Shanxi, Shaanxi, and Gansu provinces, Stephen Jones describes ritual sequences within funerals and temple fairs, offering details on occupational hereditary lay Daoists, temple-dwelling priests, and even amateur ritual groups. Stressing performance, Jones observes the changing ritual scene in this poor countryside, both since the 1980s and through all the tribulations of twentieth-century warfare and political campaigns. The whole vocabulary of north Chinese Daoists differs significantly from that of the southeast, which has so far dominated our image. Largely unstudied by scholars of religion, folk Daoist ritual in north China has been a constant theme of music scholars within China. Stephen Jones places lay Daoists within the wider context of folk religious practices - including those of lay Buddhists, sectarians, and spirit mediums. This book opens up a new field for scholars of religion, ritual, music, and modern Chinese society. [Source: publisher's website]


Jones, Stephen. “Revival in Crisis: Amateur Ritual Associations in Hebei.” In: Adam Yuet Chau [ed.], Religion in Contemporary China: Revitalization and Innovation. London: Routledge, 2011. Pp. 154-181.


Jones, Stephen. "Yinyang: Household Daoists of North China and Their Rituals." Daoism: Religion, History and Society 3 (2011): 83–144.

Abstract: The documenting of Daoist ritual in modern China is still only a small part of Daoist studies; most such work has focused on the southeast, for which we now have a substantial body of fieldwork on local lay traditions. In north China, meanwhile, the only outposts of Daoism generally assumed to survive are the major Quanzhen temples. My recent book, based on fieldwork, challenges this assumption that north China is virtually a tabula rasa for folk ritual, showing that local, lay, nominally Zhengyi, traditions remained active through the 20th century there too. Focusing on ritual sequences (mainly for funerals and temple fairs), I deduce that the typical performers in north China, as for the south, were, and are, lay hereditary family groups; further, both Zhengyi and Quanzhen priests from the many small local temples until the 1950s were likely to perform forrituals among the folks. I note the common use of the term yinyang to describe lay Daoists, positing a “yinyang corridor” right along the north of north China. The article focuses on the lay household traditions of north Shanxi, with outlines of ritual performers and descriptions of ritual sequences in the northeast of one county, Yanggao. In many areas of north China the jiao offering ritual, supposedly a staple of Daoist ritual, is unknown. Indeed, the whole vocabulary of north Chinese Daoists is significantly different from that of the southeast, which has so far dominated our image of Daoist ritual. The main proposal is that there is still plenty of folk Daoist activity in north China.(Source: journal)


Jones, Stephen. Daoist Priests of the Li Family: Ritual Life in Village China. St. Petersburg, FL: Three Pines Press, 2017.

Abstract: Complementing the author's moving film Li Manshan: Portrait of a Folk Daoist, this engaging and original book describes a hereditary family of household Daoist priests based in a poor village in north China. It traces the vicissitudes of their lives—and ritual practices—over the turbulent last century through the experiences of two main characters: Li Manshan (b.1946), and his distinguished father Li Qing (1926–99). A social ethnography of ritual specialists and their local patrons, the work anchors in their changing ritual performance practice. The book combines local social history and biography, evoking the changing ritual soundscape and the continuing vibrancy and relevance of the Daoists’ performance. Jones reflects on the inspiration of fieldwork, giving a unique flavor of rural life in China today. A vivid portrait of a rapidly changing society, Daoist Priests of the Li Family will fascinate anthropologists, scholars of Chinese religion, world-music aficionados, and all those interested in Asian society. (Source: publisher's website)


Judd, Ellen R., "Ritual Opera and the Bonds of Authority: Transformation and Transcendence." In: Yung, Bell, Evelyn S. Rawski & Rubie S. Watson [eds.], Harmony and Counterpoint: Ritual Music in Chinese Context. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1996. Pp.226-246.


Katz, Paul R., "The Pacification of Plagues: A Chinese Rite of Affliction." Journal of Ritual Studies 9(1995)1:55-100.


Katz, Paul R., "Festival Systems and the Division of Ritual Labor: A Case Study of the An-fang at Hsin-chuang's Ti-tsang An." Minsu quyi 130(2001): 57-124.


Katz, Paul R., "Divine Justice: Chicken-beheading Rituals in Japanese Occupation Taiwan and Their Historical Antecedents." In: Wang Ch'iu-kui, Chuang Ying-chang & Chen Chung-min [eds.], Shehui, minzu yu wenhua zhanyan guoji yantaohui lunwenji. Taipei: Hanxue Yanjiu Zhongxin, 2001. Pp.111-160.


Katz, Paul R., "Recent Developments in the Study of Chinese Ritual Dramas: An Assessment of Xu Hongtu's Research on Zhejiang." In: Daniel L. Overmyer [ed.] (with the assistance of Shin-yi Chao), Ethnography in China Today: A Critical Assessment of Methods and Results. Taipei: Yuan-Liou Publishing Co., 2002. Pp.199-229.


Katz, Paul R., "Fowl Play: Chicken-Beheading Rituals and Dispute Resolution in Taiwan." In: David K. Jordan, Andrew D. Morris, and Marc L. Moskowitz [eds.], The Minor Arts of Daily Life: Popular Culture in Taiwan. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2004. Pp. 35-49.


Katz, Paul R., "Divine Justice in Late Imperial China: A Preliminary Study of Indictment Rituals." In: John Lagerwey [ed.], Religion and Chinese Society. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press / Paris: École française d'Extrême-Orient, 2004. Pp.869-901.


Katz, Paul R. "Festivals and the Recreation of Identity in South China: A Case Study of Processions and Expulsion Rites in Pucheng, Zhejiang." Journal of Ritual Studies 19(2005)1: 67-85.


Katz, Paul R. "Festivals and the Recreation of Identity in South China: A Case Study of Processions and Expulsion Rites in Pucheng, Zhejiang." In Asian Ritual Systems: Syncretisms and Ruptures, edited by Pamela J. Stewart & Andrew Strathern. Durham, N.C.: Carolina Academic Press, 2007. Pp.153-182.

Katz, Paul R. "Orthopraxy and Heteropraxy beyond the State: Standardizing Ritual in Chinese Society." Modern China 33(2007)1: 72-90.


Katz, Paul R. Divine Justice: Religion and the Development of Chinese Legal Culture. London, New York: Routlege, 2009.

Abstract: This book considers the ways in which religious beliefs and practices have contributed to the formation of Chinese legal culture. It does so by describing two forms of overlap between religion and the law: the ideology of justice and the performance of judicial rituals.

One of the most important conceptual underpinnings of the Chinese ideology of justice is the belief in the inevitability of retribution. Similar values permeate Chinese religious traditions, all of which contend that justice will prevail despite corruption and incompetence among judicial officials in this world and even the underworld, with all wrongdoers eventually suffering some form of punishment. The second form of overlap between religion and the law may be found in the realm of practice, and involves instances when men and women perform judicial rituals like oaths, chicken-beheadings, and underworld indictments in order to enhance the legitimacy of their positions, deal with cases of perceived injustice, and resolve disputes. These rites coexist with other forms of legal practice, including private mediation and the courts, comprising a wide-ranging spectrum of practices. [Source: publisher's website]


Katz, Paul R. "Trial by Power: Some Preliminary Observations on the Judicial Roles of Taoist Martial Deities." Journal of Chinese Religions 36 (2008): 54-83.


Katz, Paul R. "Banner Worship and Human Sacrifice in Chinese Military History." In: Perry Link [ed.], The Scholar's Mind: Essays in Honor of F. W. Mote. Hong Kong: The Chinese University of Hong Kong Press, 2009. Pp.207-227.


Katz, Paul R. “Ritual? What Ritual? Secularization in the Study of Chinese Legal History, from Colonial Encounters to Modern Scholarship.” Social Compass 56 (2009): 328-344.

Abstract: The author explores the reasons why scholars have overlooked the importance of judicial rituals in Chinese legal culture and considers this neglect in the light of scholarship on secularization. He explores the issue by analysing the interaction between Chinese and western judicial practices in the colonial histories of the Straits Settlements (now Malaysia and Singapore) and Hong Kong. The concept of secularization appears to be of relevance to the study of Chinese legal culture, given that secularized societies tend to become differentiated into autonomous sub-systems, religion being restricted in influence to its own sub-system. In fact, however, religion has continuously interacted with a range of other sub-systems in China, including legal ones, which indicates that, in modern Chinese legal culture, religion and the law have not evolved into separate sub-systems. (Source: journal)


Katz, Paul R. „Repaying a Nuo Vow in Western Hunan: A Rite of Trans-Hybridity.“ Taiwan renleixue kan 11, no.2 (2013): 1-88.


Kennedy, Brian L. & Elizabeth Nai-Jia Guo. "Taiwanese Daoist Temple Parades and Their Martial Motifs." Journal of Daoist Studies 2 (2009): 197-209.


Kern, Martin, ed. Text and Ritual in Early China. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 2006.

Abstract: In Text and Ritual in Early China, leading scholars of ancient Chinese history, literature, religion, and archaeology consider the presence and use of texts in religious and political ritual. Through balanced attention to both the received literary tradition and the wide range of recently excavated artifacts, manuscripts, and inscriptions, their combined efforts reveal the rich and multilayered interplay of textual composition and ritual performance. Drawn across disciplinary boundaries, the resulting picture illuminates two of the defining features of early Chinese culture and advances new insights into their sumptuous complexity.

Beginning with a substantial introduction to the conceptual and thematic issues explored in succeeding chapters, Text and Ritual in Early China is anchored by essays on early Chinese cultural history and ritual display (Michael Nylan) and the nature of its textuality (William G. Boltz). This twofold approach sets the stage for studies of the E Jun Qi metal tallies (Lothar von Falkenhausen), the Gongyang commentary to The Spring and Autumn Annals (Joachim Gentz), the early history of The Book of Odes (Martin Kern), moral remonstration in historiography (David Schaberg), the "Liming" manuscript text unearthed at Mawangdui (Mark Csikszentmihalyi), and Eastern Han commemorative stele inscriptions (K. E. Brashier). [Source: publisher's website.]


Klöpsch, Volker, "Dramatische Wirkung und religiöse Läuterung am Beispiel der buddhistischen Mulian-Spiele." In: Christiane Hammer & Bernhard Führer [eds.], Tradition und Moderne - Religion, Philosophie und Literatur in China. Dortmund: projekt verlag, 1997. Pp. 99-112.


Kolb, Raimund Th., "A Tentative Assessment of the Role of Religion in the General Context of Locust Plague Control in Qing China (1644-1911)." Journal of Chinese Ritual, Theatre and Folklore / Minsu quyi 143(2004): 49-87. (Special issue on "Disasters and Religion", edited by Paul R. Katz and Wu Hsiu-ling)


Kominami, Ichirô. “Rituals for the Earth.” In: John Lagerwey and Marc Kalinowski [eds.], Early Chinese Religion: Part One: Shang through Han (1250 BC-220 AD). Leiden: Brill, 2009. Pp.201-234.


Lagerwey, John, "Popular Ritual Specialists in West Central Fujian." In: Wang Ch'iu-kui, Chuang Ying-chang & Chen Chung-min [eds.], Shehui, minzu yu wenhua zhanyan guoji yantaohui lunwenji. Taipei: Hanxue Yanjiu Zhongxin, 2001. Pp.435-507.


Lagerwey, John, "The Altar of Celebration Ritual in Lushan County, Sichuan." In: Daniel L. Overmyer [ed.] (with the assistance of Shin-yi Chao), Ethnography in China Today: A Critical Assessment of Methods and Results. Taipei: Yuan-Liou Publishing Co., 2002. Pp.75-79.


Lagerwey, John, "Duangong Ritual and Ritual Theatre in the Chongqing Area: A Survey of the Work of Hu Tiancheng." In: Daniel L. Overmyer [ed.] (with the assistance of Shin-yi Chao), Ethnography in China Today: A Critical Assessment of Methods and Results. Taipei: Yuan-Liou Publishing Co., 2002. Pp.81-107.


Li Feng-mao, "A Review of Ye Mingsheng's Study of the Lüshan Sect in Longyan, Fujian and Its Rituals." In: Daniel L. Overmyer [ed.] (with the assistance of Shin-yi Chao), Ethnography in China Today: A Critical Assessment of Methods and Results. Taipei: Yuan-Liou Publishing Co., 2002. Pp.257-262.


Li Lan. „The Changing Role of the Popular Religion of Nuo in Modern Chinese Politics.“ Modern Asian Studies 45.5 (2011): 1289-1311.

Abstract: Since the early 1980s, China's rapid economic growth and profound social transformation have greatly changed the role of popular religion in modern Chinese politics. In the case of nuo, these changes have been directly responsible for the incorporation of this popular religion into the implementation of Party-state's policy on ethnic minority and the provision of evidence to support the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party's regime. Through manipulation and reinterpretation by local governments, the popular religion of nuo has not only become the target of local socio-economic development, a common phenomenon in contemporary China, but has also played a key role in ethnic identification, which is an important step for a post-Mao's CCP to maintain political stability in ethnic minority areas. In addition, nuo has through the research of Marxism-influenced schools fundamentally altered its position from an officially unrecognized religion opposed to both socialist political order and atheist ideology to a politically favoured ‘living fossil’ of primitive culture. This proves the Marxist evolutionary theory in which socialism and communism are thought to be inescapable consequences of social development. The positive role played by nuo in modern Chinese politics has brought the popular religion much open support and endorsement from party-state officials at all levels, including top-ranking officials within the Central Committee of the CCP. Like any popular religion, nuo has over the centuries undergone significant changes, but never before has it experienced such dramatic changes in its relationship with an anti-religious and pragmatic central government, something which has significantly altered the course of its development. (Source: journal)


Li Lan. Popular Religion in Modern China: The New Role of Nuo. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2015.

Abstract: Since the early 1980s, China's rapid economic growth and social transformation have greatly altered the role of popular religion in the country. This book makes a new contribution to the research on the phenomenon by examining the role which popular religion has played in modern Chinese politics. Popular Religion in Modern China uses Nuo as an example of how a popular religion has been directly incorporated into the Chinese Community Party's (CCP) policies and how the religion functions as a tool to maintain socio-political stability, safeguard national unification and raise the country's cultural 'soft power' in the eyes of the world. It provides rich new material on the interplay between contemporary Chinese politics, popular religion and economic development in a rapidly changing society. (Source: publisher's website)


Lim, Alvin E. H. "Live Streaming and Digital Stages for the Hungry Ghosts and Deities." Religions 11, no. 7 (2020): 367. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11070367

Abstract: Many Chinese temples in Singapore provide live streaming of getai (English: a stage for songs) during the Hungry Ghost Month as well as deities' birthday celebrations and spirit possessions—a recent phenomenon. For instance, Sheng Hong Temple launched its own app in 2018, as part of a digital turn that culminated in a series of live streaming events during the temple's 100-year anniversary celebrations. Deities' visits to the temple from mainland China and Taiwan were also live-streamed, a feature that was already a part of the Taichung Mazu Festival in Taiwan. Initially streamed on RINGS.TV, an app available on Android and Apple iOS, live videos of getai performances can now be found on the more sustainable platform of Facebook Live. These videos are hosted on Facebook Pages, such as "Singapore Getai Supporter" (which is listed as a "secret" group), "Singapore Getai Fans Page", "Lixin Fan Page", and "LEX-S Watch Live Channel". These pages are mainly initiated and supported by LEX(S) Entertainment Productions, one of the largest entertainment companies running and organising getai performances in Singapore. This paper critically examines this digital turn and the use of digital technology, where both deities and spirits are made available to digital transmissions, performing to the digital camera in ways that alter the performative aspects of religious festivals and processions. In direct ways, the performance stage extends to the digital platform, where getai hosts, singers, and spirit mediums have become increasingly conscious that they now have a virtual presence that exceeds the live event.


Liu, Huan-yueh. "Placating Lost Souls and Praying for Them to be at Peace--the Mid Prime Festival of Universal Salvation in Worship of Lonely Ghosts." Translated by Lin Pei-yin. Taiwan Literature: English Translation Series 14 (2004): 119-128.


Liu, Xin, "Three Styles in the Study of (Chinese) Ritual." Journal of Ritual Studies 14(2000)2: 58-64.


Liu, Xuan: Monica McGarrity; Li Yiming. “The Influence of Traditional Buddhist Wildlife Release on Biological Invasions.” Conservation Letters 5.2 (2012): 107-114.

Abstract: An understanding of anthropogenic factors influencing wildlife invasions is crucial to development of comprehensive prevention and management strategies. However, little attention has been paid to the role religious practice plays in biological invasions. The tradition of wildlife release is prevalent in many areas around the world where Asian religions are influential and is hypothesized to promote species invasions, although quantitative evidence is lacking. We used an information-theoretic approach to evaluate the influence of Buddhist wildlife release events on establishment of feral populations of American bullfrogs ( Lithobates catesbeianus) in Yunnan province, southwestern China, from 2008 to 2009. We identified frequency of release events and lentic water conditions as factors that promote establishment of bullfrog populations, whereas hunting activity likely helps to prevent establishment. Our study provides the first quantitative evidence that religious release is an important pathway for wildlife invasions and has implications for prevention and management on a global scale. (Source: journal)


Liu, Yonghua. Confucian Rituals and Chinese Villagers: Ritual Change and Social Transformation in a Southeastern Chinese Community, 1368-1949. Religion in Chinese Societies, vol.6. Leiden: Brill, 2013.

Abstract: In Confucian Rituals and Chinese Villagers, Yonghua Liu presents a detailed study of how a southeastern Chinese community experienced and responded to the process whereby Confucian rituals - previously thought unfit for practice by commoners - were adopted in the Chinese countryside and became an integral part of village culture, from the mid fourteenth to mid twentieth centuries. The book examines the important but understudied ritual specialists, masters of rites (lisheng), and their ritual handbooks while showing their crucial role in the ritual life of Chinese villagers. This discussion of lisheng and their rituals deepens our understanding of the ritual aspect of popular Confucianism and sheds new light on social and cultural transformations in late imperial China. (Source: publisher's website)


Lu Miaw-fen. "The Cult of Confucius as Family Ritual in Late Imperial China." Chinese Historical Review 24, no. 1 (2017): 21-40.

Abstract: The cult of Confucius as practiced in Confucian temples had all the characteristics of a state religion, largely removed from the everyday lives of elite Confucians. In con- trast, during late Imperial China, many Confucians cultivated private household ritual practices centered on the cult of Confucius and important sages and worthies. This private ritual practice differed significantly from the official cult of Confucius. First, it was far less rigid and more fluid. Second, because it was a private practice, there was greater autonomy in ritual practice. Thirdly, these ideas reflected a new understanding of Confucian identity in relation to both one’s own bloodline and the genealogy of the Way. This articles addresses these issues in the context of descriptive examples of this ritual practice, along with an account of its significance with respect to ideas related to this private ritual practice, including ritual theory debates on incorporating images in the ritual, and the relationship between ritual and moral cultivation. To better understand this practice, this article will further provide some discussion of the intellectual context of the Ming-Qing transition. (Source: journal)


McCreery, John L., "Negotiating with Demons: The Uses of Magical Language." American Ethnologist 22(1995)1: 144-164.


Menegon, Eugenio. “European and Chinese Controversies over Rituals: A Seventeenth-Century Genealogy of Chinese Religion.” In Devising Order: Socio-Religious Models, Rituals, and the Performativity of Practice, edited by Bruno Boute and Thomas Småberg, 193–222. Leiden: Brill, 2013.


Moore, Oliver, "Violence Un-scrolled: Cultic and Ritual Emphases in Painting Guan Yu." Arts Asiatiques 58(2003): 86-97.


Morgan, Carole, "Inscribed Stones. A Note on a Tang and Song Dynasty Rite." T'oung Pao 82(1996)4-5: 317-348.


Moskowitz, Marc L. , "The Haunting Fetus: Greed, Healing, and Religious Adaptation in Modern Taiwan." Bulletin of the Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica 86(1998): 157-196.


Moskowitz, Marc L., "Fetus-Spirits: New Ghosts in Modern Taiwan." Ph.D. dissertation, University of California-San Diego, 1999.


Moskowitz, Marc L., The Haunting Fetus: Abortion, Sexuality, and the Spirit World in Taiwan. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2001.


Moskowitz, Marc L. "Magic Tricks, Midnight Grave Outings, and Transforming Trees: Performance and Agency in Taiwanese Religion." Journal of Ritual Studies 19(2005)1: 19-29.


Moskowitz, Marc L. "Magic Tricks, Midnight Grave Outings, and Transforming Trees: Performance and Agency in Taiwanese Religion." In Asian Ritual Systems: Syncretisms and Ruptures, edited by Pamela J. Stewart & Andrew Strathern. Durham, N.C.: Carolina Academic Press, 2007. Pp.63-81.

Murray, Gerald, and Haiyan Xing. "Religion and Climate Change: Rain Rituals in Israel, China, and Haiti."Religions 11, no. 11 (2020): 554; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11110554

Ng, Emily. "Spectral Revolution: Notes on a Maoist Cosmology." Made in China 5, no. 2 (2020): 104–111.

Abstract: This essay describes the cosmological role of Mao in ritual and spirit mediumship in rural China. It considers the occulted forces hosted by the Chairman's image and words, across movements of display, concealment, and circulation. Here, the Party-state has a cosmic double, and Maoist anti-religious policies are not what they seem.


Ng, Wing Chung, "Collective Ritual and the Resilience of Traditional Organizations: A Case Study of Vancouver since the Second World War." In: Wang Ling-chi & Wang Gungwu [eds.], The Chinese Diaspora: Selected Essays (Volume I). Singapore: Times Academic Press, 1998. Pp.195-227.


Nickerson, Peter. "'Let Living and Dead Take Separate Paths': Bureaucratisation and Textualisation in Early Chinese Mortuary Ritual." In; Benjamin Penny [ed.], Daoism in History: Essays in Honour of Liu Ts'un-yan. London, New York: Routledge, 2006. Pp.10-40.


Oakes, Tim. “Alchemy of the Ancestors: Rituals of Genealogy in the Service of the Nation in Rural China.” In: Tim Oakes & Donald S. Sutton [eds.], Faiths on Display: Religion, Tourism, and the Chinese State. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010. Pp.51-77.

Olles, Volker. Ritual Words: Daoist Liturgy and the Confucian Liumen Tradition in Sichuan Province. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2013.

Abstract: The Qing dynasty scholar Liu Yuan (1768-1856) developed a unique system of thought, merging Confucian learning with ideas and practices from Daoism and Buddhism, and was eventually venerated as the founding patriarch of an influential movement combining the characteristics of a scholarly circle and a religious society. Liu Yuan, a native of Sichuan, was an outstanding Confucian scholar whose teachings were commonly referred to as Liumen (Liu School). Assisted by his close disciples, Liu edited a Daoist ritual canon titled Fayan huizuan (Compendium of Ritual Words). Daoist priests affiliated with the Liumen community and using the Fayan huizuan canon in their rituals constituted an independent liturgical branch of Daoism, which is still extant and known under the name of “Fayan tan” (Altar of Ritual Words). Following a comprehensive description of the Liumen tradition, the volume by Volker Olles discusses the compilation history of the Fayan huizuan canon, the lineage of the Fayan tan priests, as well as the temporal framework of their liturgy. The main part of the volume consists of a detailed study of the ritual canon, identifying its textual sources and describing its pantheon, the influence of the Liumen ideology on its texts, as well as the function and performance of its rituals in contemporary religious practice. Furthermore concluding thoughts about the Fayan tan tradition’s role in present-day Sichuan constitute the epilogue. By showing how members of the Confucian elite were involved in the evolution of modern Daoism, this study sheds light on hitherto obscure or poorly understood aspects of the intellectual and spiritual culture of Southwest China. (Source: publisher's website)

Overmyer, Daniel L. [ed.] (with the assistance of Shin-yi Chao), Ethnography in China Today: A Critical Assessment of Methods and Results. Taipei: Yuan-Liou Publishing Co., 2002. [Note: This volume is dedicated to the memory of Piet van der Loon.]

Abstract: This book includes twenty chapters reviewing a total of sixty-four books in Chinese in the two series: "Studies in Chinese Ritual, Theatre and Folklore" and "Traditional Hakka Society," edited respectively by Wang Ch'iu-kuei and John Lagerwey.

It is intended to inform the wider world of scholarship of this new research, which provides the most detailed information ever available about Chinese local culture, drama and religion. Together with the excellent studies of this dimension of culture by scholars in Taiwan, and with a revived interest in this area by other China mainland scholars, this book represents a resumption of the folklore studies movement of the 1920s and 1930s that was interrupted by the war with Japan. These new reports may also be seen as a complement to the work of anthropologists, who until recently have not been able to conduct many field studies in China. As such, this research provides fresh information for an understanding of the culture of the majority of the Chinese people, an understanding based on their lived experiences and values. [From the book's cover.]


Overmyer, Daniel L. "Ritual Leaders in North China Local Communities in the Twentieth Century: A Report on Research in Progress." Minsi quyi 153 (2006): 203-263.


Oxfeld, Ellen. "Life-Cycle Rituals in Rural and Urban China: Birth, Marriage and Death." In Handbook on Religion in China, edited by Stephan Feuchtwang, 110–131. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2020.


Paper, Jordan, "Female Rituals and Female Priestly Roles in Traditional Chinese Religion." Canadian Woman Studies/Les Cahiers de la Femme 17(1997)1: 96-99.


Pee, Christian de, "The Ritual and Sexual Bodies of the Groom and the Bride in Ritual Manuals of the Sung Dynasty (Eleventh through Thirteenth Centuries)." In: Harriet T. Zurndorfer [ed.], Chinese Women in the Imperial Past: New Perspectives. Leiden: Brill, 1999. Pp.53-100.


Peng, Mu. "Shared Practice, Esoteric Knowledge, and Bai: Envisioning the Yin World in Rural China." Ph.D. dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, 2008. 

Abstract: How do rural Chinese people practice popular religion? Without Church and institutional propagation, how do people form visions of the yin world, the Chinese spiritual world that is the opposite of the yang world where we live? Based upon fieldwork from 2005-2006 in Chaling County, Hunan Province, China, my dissertation explores what and how social processes and agents influence and shape formation and reproduction of religious beliefs and practices in individual and rural community. Portraying how daily life practices, rites of passage, and annual festival performances mold people’s mind and body, I highlight various wandering ritual specialists, who, as ordinary villagers as well as itinerants, shape and are shaped by local tradition. Centering upon how beliefs and practices are reproduced on the ground, my dissertation touches upon wider issues in the study of religion in general and Chinese popular religion in particular. Religion, belief, and ancestor worship are all modern Western categories. What are the Chinese sense of religion, worship, and belief and believing—at least in one place and time? I invoke the local term bai to shed light on the sense of doing religion. On the one hand, bai refers to concrete bodily movements that embody respect and awe, such as bowing, kneeling, or holding up offerings on ritual occasions. On the other hand, villagers not only use bai as a generic term to generalize ritual worship, but also to characterize their religious inclinations and practices. In this sense, my dissertation is an ethnography of bai, of how cultural and social practices cultivate people to bai appropriately and to envisage the yin world at the same time. Religious practices, I argue, instill into people beliefs and ways of doing religion, and deeply engrain visions of the yin world in the acting body and mind as a whole. Religion is not simply a matter of belief. Using case studies in rural China, I aim to offer an ethnographic critique that demonstrates the possibility of religion as a way, as a repertoire, for people to negotiate and come to terms with the dread and desires of life and death. (Source: dissertation)


Peng, Mu. “Imitating Masters: Apprenticeship and Embodied Knowledge in Rural China.” In: Devorah Kalekin-Fishman & Kelvin E.Y. Low [eds.], Everyday Life in Asia: Social Perspectives on the Senses. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate, 2010. Pp. 115-136.


Plutschow, Herbert, "Archaic Chinese Sacrificial Practices in the Light of Generative Anthropology." Anthropoetics: The Electronic Journal of Generative Anthropology 1(1995)2. http://www.anthropoetics.ucla.edu/ap0102/china.htm


Pomeranz, Kenneth. "Orthopraxy, Orthodoxy, and the Goddess(es) of Taishan." Modern China 33(2007)1: 22-46.


Poo, Mu-chou, "Ghost Literature: Exorcistic Ritual Texts or Daily Entertainment?" Asia Major (Third series) 13(2000)1: 43-64.


Poo, Mu-chou. “Ritual and Ritual Texts in Early China.” In: John Lagerwey and Marc Kalinowski [eds.], Early Chinese Religion: Part One: Shang through Han (1250 BC-220 AD). Leiden: Brill, 2009. Pp.281-313.


Poo, Mu-chou. “Images and Ritual Treatment of Dangerous Spirits.” In: John Lagerwey and Lü Pengzhi [eds.], Early Chinese Religion: Part Two: The Period of Division (220-589 AD). Leiden: Brill, 2010. Pp.1075-1094.


Puett, Michael J., To Become a God: Cosmology, Sacrifice, and Self-Divinization in Early China. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, Harvard University Press, 2002.

Abstract: Evidence from Shang oracle bones to memorials submitted to Western Han emperors attests to a long-lasting debate in early China over the proper relationship between humans and gods. One pole of the debate saw the human and divine realms as separate and agonistic and encouraged divination to determine the will of the gods and sacrifices to appease and influence them. The opposite pole saw the two realms as related and claimed that humans could achieve divinity and thus control the cosmos. This wide-ranging book reconstructs this debate and places within their contemporary contexts the rival claims concerning the nature of the cosmos and the spirits, the proper demarcation between the human and the divine realms, and the types of power that humans and spirits can exercise. It is often claimed that the worldview of early China was unproblematically monistic and that hence China had avoided the tensions between gods and humans found in the West. By treating the issues of cosmology, sacrifice, and self-divinization in a historical and comparative framework that attends to the contemporary significance of specific arguments, Michael J. Puett shows that the basic cosmological assumptions of ancient China were the subject of far more debate than is generally thought. [Source: publisher's website]


Puett, Michael. "The Offering of Food and the Creation of Order: The Practice of Sacrifice in Early China." In Roel Sterckx [ed.], Of Tripod and Palate: Food, Politics, and Religion in Traditional China. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. Pp. 75-95.


Rawson, Jessica, "Ancient Chinese Ritual as Seen in the Material Record." In: Joseph P. McDermott [ed.], State and Court Ritual in China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. Pp.20-49.


Rawson, Jessica. “Ordering the Exotic: Ritual Practices in the Late Western and Early Eastern Zhou.” Artibus Asiae 73, no.1 (2013): 5-76.


Reich, Aaron K. "In the Shadow of the Spirit Image: The Production, Consecration, and Enshrinement of a Daoist Statue in Northern Taiwan." Journal of Chinese Religions 49, no. 2 (2021): 265–324.

Abstract: Statues of the gods, or spirit images (shenxiang 神像), remain among the most ubiquitous material objects in the religious culture of modern-day Taiwan. Notwithstanding, research to date has yet to examine adequately the people and processes that produce, consecrate, and enshrine these statues, work that effects a transformation of these cult statues into sacred presences. How should we understand the relationship between these artistic and ritual processes and the resulting spirit image that is born out of them? The article argues that the spirit image at the heart of this study, a statue of the Daoist god Guangcheng Zi 廣成子, emerges in the context of its religious lifeworld not as a discrete entity, but rather as an “assemblage,” a coming together of the people who contribute to it, the materials those people use, and the specific spirits and divine powers those people invoke.



Rouse, Wendy L. "'What We Didn't Understand': A History of Chinese Death Ritual in China and California." In: Sue Fawn Chung & Priscilla Wegers, eds. Chinese American Death Rituals. Lanham: AltaMira Press, 2005. Pp.19-45.


Rouse, Wendy L. "Archaeological Excavations at Virginiatown's Chinese Cemeteries." In: Sue Fawn Chung & Priscilla Wegers, eds. Chinese American Death Rituals. Lanham: AltaMira Press, 2005. Pp.81-106.


Ruizendaal, Robin, "Ritual Text and Performance in the Marionette Theatre of Southern Fujian and Taiwan." In: Jan A.M. De Meyer & Peter M. Engelfriet [eds.], Linked Faiths: Essays on Chinese Religion and Traditional Culture in Honour of Kristofer Schipper. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2000. Pp.336-360.


Sangren, P. Steven, "'Power' Against Ideology: A Critique of Foucaultian Usage." Cultural Anthropology 10(1995)1: 3-40.

Abstract: The inadequacies of Michel Foucault's notion of power are examined. Though Foucault's conceptualization of power has gained substantial following in sociology & is invoked as an explanatory principle in social analysis, it is flawed because it assumes demiurgic demonic properties & fails to distinguish between the real operations of power & the ways in which power is represented in social institutions & discourses. Inherent in Foucault's notion is nonacknowledgement of the alienating & idoelogical elements of representations of power. This neglect reduces the coherence of Foucault's notion & its value for academic exploration into the operations of power in social processes. Foucaultian & Chinese conceptions of power are compared. [Source of abstract: D. Generoli,Sociological Abstracts, Inc.]


Sangren, P. Steven. “Fate, Agency, and the Economy of Desire in Chinese Ritual and Society.” Social Analysis 56.2 (2012): 117-135.

Abstract: For many Western observers, Chinese religion and cosmology appear rife with contradictions, among them the recurrent motif in litera- ture and myth of preordination or fate, on the one hand, and a relentless attempt, through ritual means, to discern, control, or change fate, on the other. This article argues that the obsession with fate and luck is best comprehended with reference to desire understood as a human universal. Underlying one's hope to control the future lies a psychologically more fundamental wish to claim ownership of one's being. I argue that fate and luck are operators in a symbolic economy that implicitly posits what Freud terms the 'omnipotence of thoughts'. Moreover, if the underlying principle of Chinese notions of fate and luck can be termed an 'economy of desire', it is a principle that also coordinates and encompasses Chinese patriliny, family dynamics, and wider collective institutions. (Source: journal)


Scott, Janet Lee, "Traditional Values and Modern Meanings in the Paper Offering Industry of Hong Kong." In: Grant Evans & Maria Tam [eds.], Hong Kong: The Anthropology of a Chinese Metropolis. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1997. Pp.223-241.


Scott, Janet Lee. For Gods, Ghosts and Ancestors: The Chinese Tradition of Paper Offerings. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 2007.

Abstract: Offerings of various kinds - food, incense, paper money, and figures - have been central to Chinese culture for millennia, and as a public, visual display of spiritual belief, they are still evident today in China and in Chinatowns around the world. Using Hong Kong as a case study, Janet Scott looks at paper offerings from every conceivable angle - how they are made, sold, and used. Her comprehensive investigation touches on virtually every aspect of Chinese popular religion as it explores the many forms of these intricate objects, their manufacture, their significance, and their importance in rituals to honor gods, care for ancestors, and contend with ghosts.

Throughout For Gods, Ghosts and Ancestors, paper offerings are presented as a vibrant and living tradition expressing worshippers' respect and gratitude for the gods, as well as love and concern for departed family members. Ranging from fake paper money to paper furniture, servant dolls, cigarettes, and toiletries - all multihued and artfully constructed - paper offerings are intended to provide for the needs of those in the spirit world.

Readers are introduced to the variety of paper offerings and their uses in worship, in assisting worshippers with personal difficulties, and in rituals directed to gods, ghosts, and ancestors. We learn of the manufacture and sale of paper goods, life in paper shops, the training of those who make paper offerings, and the symbolic and artistic dimensions of the objects. Finally, the book considers the survival of this traditional craft, the importance of flexibility and innovation, and the role of compassion and filial piety in the use of paper offerings. [Source: publisher's website.]


Segers, A. “Le mariage traditionnel dans un petit village Chinois anno 1916.” Courier Verbiest 24 (2011/2012): 16-18.


Seiwert, Hubert. “The Dynamics of Religions and Cultural Evolution: Worshipping Fuxi in Contemporary China.” In Dynamics of Religion: Past and Present, ed. Christoph Bochinger and Jörg Rüpke, 9–29. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2016.

Abstract: The paper discusses the theme of the congress ‘Dynamics of Religions’ in the theoretical context of cultural evolution. In contrast to the prevailing progression model of cultural evolution, it proposes a diversification model that allows for considering the dynamics of religions on the micro-level. In this view, a central element of cultural evolution is the dialectical relationship between cultural production and cultural environment, which is the outcome of cultural pro- duction and at the same time enables and restricts further production. The approach is exemplified by the religious dynamics in contemporary China focusing on the worship of Fuxi in popular and state rituals. The example also serves to illustrate divergent views of what counts as religion. (Source: book)


Shaughnessy, Edward L., "From Liturgy to Literature: The Ritual Contexts of the Earliest Poems in the Book of Poetry." Chinese Studies 13(1995)1: 133-164.


Smith, Joanna F. Handlin, "Liberating Animals in Ming-Qing China: Buddhist Inspiration and Elite Imagination." Journal of Asian Studies 58(1999)1: 51-84.


Smith, Richard J. Mapping China and Managing the World: Culture, Cartography and Cosmology in Late Imperial Times. London & New York: Routledge, 2013.

Abstract: From the founding of the Qin dynasty in 221 BCE to the present, the Chinese have been preoccupied with the concept of order (zhi). This cultural preoccupation has found expression not only in China’s highly refined bureaucratic institutions and methods of social and economic organization but also in Chinese philosophy, religious and secular ritual, and a number of comprehensive systems for classifying every form of human achievement, as well as all natural and supernatural phenomena. Richard J. Smith’s Mapping China and Managing the World focuses on several crucial devices employed by the Chinese for understanding and ordering their vast and variegated world, which they saw as encompassing "all under Heaven." The book begins with discussions of how the ancient work known as the Yijing (Classic of Changes) and maps of "the world" became two prominent means by which the Chinese in imperial times (221 BCE to 1912) managed space and time. Smith goes on to show how ritual (li) served as a powerful tool for overcoming disorder, structuring Chinese society, and maintaining dynastic legitimacy. He then develops the idea that just as the Chinese classics and histories ordered the past, and ritual ordered the present, so divination ordered the future. The book concludes by emphasizing the enduring relevance of the Yijing in Chinese intellectual and cultural life as well as its place in the history of Sino-foreign interactions. (Source: publisher's website)


Song, Yoo-who. “'Breaking blood-pond (poxuehu)' Ritual and Women in China.” Asian Journal of Women's Studies 18.1 (2012): 62-86.


Stafford, Charles, The Roads of Chinese Childhood: Learning and Identification in Angang. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. See esp. chapter 8: "Dangerous Rituals".


Stafford, Charles, Separation and Union in Modern China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Abstract: In this original and readable book, Charles Stafford describes the Chinese fascination with separation and reunion. Drawing on his field studies in Taiwan and mainland China, he gives a vivid account of raucous festivals of reunion, elaborate rituals for the sending-off of gods (and daughters), poetic moments of leave-takings between friends, and bitter political rhetoric about Chinese national unity. The idioms and practices of separation and reunion - which are woven into the fabric of daily life - help people to explain the passions aroused by the possibility of national division. In this book, the discussion of everyday rituals leads into a unique and accessible general introduction to Chinese and Taiwanese society and culture. [Source: publisher's website]

Contents: Introduction: an anthropology of separation; 1. Two festivals of reunion; 2. The etiquette of parting and return; 3. Greeting and sending-off the dead; 4. The ambivalent threshold; 5. Commensality as reunion; 6. Women and the obligation to return; 7. Developing a sense of history; 8. Classical narratives of separation; 9. The politics of separation and reunion in China and Taiwan; Conclusion: the separation constraint.


Stafford, Charles. “Misfortune and What Can Be Done about It: A Taiwanese Case Study.” Social Analysis 56, no.2 (2012): 90–102.

Abstract: Drawing primarily on ethnographic material from Taiwan, this paper focuses on misfortune, and more especially on the question of whether people are felt to deserve what happens to them - be it bad or good. I examine the cases of several people who have suffered misfortune in life, exploring ways in which they might actively try to make good things happen – as a way of convincing others, an d indeed themselves, that they are, after all, good. In considering these cases, I discuss three intersecting accounts of fate which are widely held by ordinary people in Taiwan and China: a cosmological one, a spirit - focused one, and a social one. (Source: LSE repository)


Standaert, Nicolas. The Interweaving of Rituals: Funerals in the Cultural Exchange between China and Europe. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 2008.

Abstract: The death of the Italian Jesuit Matteo Ricci in China in 1610 was the occasion for demonstrations of European rituals appropriate for a Catholic priest and also of Chinese rituals appropriate to the country hosting the Jesuit community. Rather than burying Ricci immediately in a plain coffin near the church, according to their European practice, the Jesuits followed Chinese custom and kept Ricci's body for nearly a year in an air-tight Chinese-style coffin and asked the emperor for burial ground outside the city walls. Moreover, at Ricci's funeral itself, on their own initiative the Chinese performed their funerary rituals, thus starting a long and complex cultural dialogue in which they took the lead during the next century.

The Interweaving of Rituals explores the role of ritual - specifically rites related to death and funerals - in cross-cultural exchange, demonstrating a gradual interweaving of Chinese and European ritual practices at all levels of interaction in seventeenth-century China. This includes the interplay of traditional and new rituals by a Christian community of commoners, the grafting of Christian funerals onto established Chinese practices, and the sponsorship of funeral processions for Jesuit officials by the emperor. Through careful observation of the details of funerary practice, Nicolas Standaert illustrates the mechanics of two-way cultural interaction. His thoughtful analysis of the ritual exchange between two very different cultural traditions is especially relevant in today's world of global ethnic and religious tension. His insights will be of interest to a broad range of scholars, from historians to anthropologists to theologians. [Source: publisher's website]


Sterckx, Roel, "An Ancient Chinese Horse Ritual." Early China 21(1996): 57-79.


Sterckx, Roel. “’Of a Tawny Bull We Make Offering’: Animals in Early Chinese Religion.” In: Paul Waldau & Kimberley Patton [eds.], A Communion of Subjects: Animals in Religion, Science, and Ethics. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006. Pp. 259-272.


Sutton, Donald S., "Transmission in Popular Religion: The Jiajiang Festival Troupe of Southern Taiwan." In: Shahar, Meir & Robert P. Weller [eds.], Unruly Gods: Divinity and Society in China. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1996. Pp.212-249.


Sutton, Donald S., "The Uses of Ritual in a Chinese Festival: The Jiajiang Troupe in Southern Taiwan." Journal of Ritual Studies 11(1997)1: 45-60.


Sutton, Donald S., "Prefect Feng and the Yangzhou Drought of 1490: A Ming Social Crisis and the Rewards of Sincerity." Journal of Chinese Ritual, Theatre and Folklore / Minsu quyi 143(2004): 13-48. (Special issue on "Disasters and Religion", edited by Paul R. Katz and Wu Hsiu-ling)


Sutton, Donald S. " Ritual, Cultural Standardization, and Orthopraxy in China: Reconsidering James L. Watson's Ideas." Modern China 33(2007)1: 3-21. (Note: Introduction to a special issue of this journal.)


Sutton, Donald S. "Death Rites and Chinese Culture: Standardization and Variation in Ming and Qing Times." Modern China 33(2007)1: 125-153.


Szonyi, Michael A., "Village Rituals in Fuzhou in the Late Imperial and Republican Periods." D.Phil dissertation, University of Oxford, 1995.


Szonyi, Michael, Practicing Kinship: Lineage and Descent in Late Imperial China. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2002. (Note: See especially ch.5 "Rituals of the Ancestral Hall: New Year's Day and Lantern Festival")

Abstract: Presenting a new approach to the history of Chinese kinship, this book attempts to bridge the gap between anthropological and historical scholarship on the Chinese lineage by considering its development in terms of individual and collective strategies. Based on a wide range of newly available sources such as lineage genealogies and stone inscriptions, as well as oral history and extensive observation of contemporary ritual practice in the field, this work explores the historical development of kinship in villages of the Fuzhou region of southeastern Fujian province.

In the late imperial period (1368-1911), the people of Fuzhou compiled lengthy genealogies, constructed splendid ancestral halls, and performed elaborate collective rituals of ancestral sacrifice, testimony to the importance they attached to organized patrilineal kinship. In their writings on the lineage, members of late imperial elites presented such local behavior as the straightforward expression of universal and eternal principles. In this book, the author shows that kinship in the Fuzhou region was a form of strategic practice that was always flexible and negotiable. In using the concepts and institutions of kinship, individuals and groups redefined them to serve their own purposes, which included dealing with ethnic differentiation, competing for power and status, and formulating effective responses to state policies. Official efforts to promote a neo-Confucian agenda, to register land and population, and to control popular religion drove people to organize themselves on kinship principles and to institutionalize their kinship relationships. Local efforts to turn compliance with official policies, or at least claims of compliance, to local advantage meant that policymakers were continually frustrated.

Because kinship was constituted in a complex of representations, it was never stable or fixed, but fluid and multiple. In offering this new perspective on this history of Chinese lineage practices, the author also provides new insights into the nature of cultural integration and state control in traditional Chinese society. (Source: publisher's webpage)


Szonyi, Michael. "The Virgin and the Chinese State: The Cult of Wang Yulan and the Politics of Local Identity on Jinmen (Quemoy)." Journal of Ritual Studies 19(2005)1: 87-98.


Szonyi, Michael. "Making Claims about Standardization and Orthopraxy in Late Imperial China: Rituals and Cults in the Fuzhou Region in Light of Watson's Theories." Modern China 33(2007)1: 47-71.


Takacs, Jeff, "A Case of Contagious Legitimacy: Kinship, Ritual and Manipulation in Chinese Martial Arts Societies." Modern Asian Studies 37(2003)4: 885-917.


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 ?c?rya Buddhism is flourished and the case of Wanzai in Jiangxi where there is a mixture of Buddho-Daoist tradition. (Source: journal)


Tan, Chris K.K., Xin Wang, and Shasha Chen. "Corpse Brides: Yinhun and the Macabre Agency of Cadavers in Contemporary Chinese Ghost Marriages." Asian Studies Review 43, no. 1 (2019): 148-163.

Abstract: Recently, Chinese newspapers have captured the attention of their readers with stories of criminals pillaging graves and murdering people to obtain corpses to sell for use in "ghost marriages" (yinhun, 阴婚). One sensationalistic report even claims that "150,000 yuan (US$22,000) won't even get you bones". When the state casts yinhun as a "culturally backward" superstition incongruent with national visions of modernity, how are we to understand the resurgence of this practice? By tracing the history of ghost marriages, we argue that yinhun corpses are simultaneously dead and alive. Adapting Gell's theory of the agency of art, we maintain that yinhun corpses may be traded as lifeless commodities, but they also possess powerful living agency that critically undergirds the social efficacy of the ghost-marriage ritual. Indeed, these cadavers perform a sort of macabre affective labour that soothes the anxieties of the living. As such, this article deepens our understanding of what we mean by "commodity".


Tan, Chris K.K. "The Macabre Affective Labour of Cadavers in Chinese Ghost Marriages." Made in China 5, no. 2 (2020): 118–123.

Abstract: Recently, Chinese newspapers have captured the attention of their readers with stories of criminals robbing graves and murdering people to sell the corpses for use in 'ghost marriages' (yinhun 阴婚). The state casts ghost marriages as 'superstition', but the practice remains as a way for people to attempt to sooth the angst of the spirit of the deceased and its living relatives. In fact, the lifeless corpse used in yinhun must be considered alive during the ritual for the ghost marriage to achieve its spiritual and social efficacies. As such, yinhun cadavers perform a sort of macabre affective labour.


Tillman, Margaret Mih & Hoyt Cleveland Tillman. “A Joyful Union: The Modernization of the Zhu Xi Family Ritual Wedding Ceremony.” Oriens Extremus 49 (2010): 115-142.


Tong Chee Kiong & Lily Kong. "Religion and Modernity: Ritual Transformation and the Reconstruction of Space and Time." Social and Cultural Geography 1(2000)1: 29-44.

Abstract: In this paper, we use the case of Chinese religion in Singapore to examine the relationships between religion and modernity, and between social processes, on the one hand, and spatial conceptions, forms and structures and temporal practices, on the other. Specifically, we look at how traditional Chinese rituals are being modified, reinterpreted and invented to fit with modern living. Such ritual transformations entail reconstructed notions of space and time. Through such transformations, modernity does not simply lead to the demise of religious beliefs and practices but allows for a continued role for religion in providing a meaning system for Chinese religionists in Singapore. [Source: article]


Tong Chee Kiong. Chinese Death Rituals in Singapore. London, New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2004.


Tsai, S.C. Kevin. "Ritual and Gender in the 'Tale of Li Wa'." Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews 26(2004): 99-127.


Tsu, Timothy Y., "All Souls Aboard! The Ritual Launch of Model Junks by the Chinese of Nagasaki in Tokugawa Japan." Journal of Ritual Studies 10(1996)1: 37-62.


Tsu Yun Hui, "Between Heaven and the Deep Sea. The Religious Practice of Chinese Seafarers from the Eleventh to the Mid-Nineteenth Century." East Asian History 23(2002): 69-86.


Wang, Ch'iu Kuei, "Studies in Chinese Ritual and Ritual Theatre: A Bibliographical Report." CHINOPERL Papers no.18 (1995): 115-129.


Wang Ch'iu-kuei, "Chinese Ritual and Ritual Theatre." In: Daniel L. Overmyer [ed.] (with the assistance of Shin-yi Chao), Ethnography in China Today: A Critical Assessment of Methods and Results. Taipei: Yuan-Liou Publishing Co., 2002. Pp.11-22.


Wang, Danyu. "Ritualistic Coresidence and the Weakening of Filial Practice in Rural China." In: Charlotte Ikels [ed.], Filial Piety: Practice and Discourse in Contemporary East Asia. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004. Pp.16-33.


Wang, Dean K. L. "The Cult of the Underworld in Singapore: Mythology and Materiality." Religions 11, no. 7 (2020): 363. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11070363

Abstract: Myths provide hagiographic and iconographic accounts of the gods, which shape rituals that are performed in cults associated with these gods. In the realization of iconographies and ritualization of narratives in myths, material objects play an active role. This article examines the pattern of worship in the cult of the Ah Pehs, a group of Underworld gods whose efficacy lies in the promise of occult wealth, and focuses on the material aspects such as offerings and paraphernalia associated with these gods. Though ritual texts and scriptures are absent in the Ah Peh cult, symbols in the form of material objects play a crucial role. These objects are also considered as synecdoche for the gods in certain cases. The first part of this paper presents a case study of the autonomous ritual of "Burning Prosperity Money", which reveals the cycle of occult exchange between gods and devotees. The second part involves an imagery analysis of the material objects central to the cult, and argues that in the system of reciprocity with the gods, material objects common to the everyday life are reinterpreted and enchanted with a capitalist turn, resulting in the development of occult economies within the local Chinese religious sphere.


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


Wang, Qian, and Qiong Yang. “Ritual, Legend, and Metaphor: Narratives of the Willow in Yuan Zaju.” Religions 13 (2022).


Wang Yaofeng, Yue Yongyi. "Belief or Leisure: The Evolution of Miaofeng Mountain Temple Festival in the Last Century." Cambridge Journal of China Studies 11, no.1 (2016): 27-47.

Abstract: The Miaofeng Mountain temple festival is based on Bixia Yuanjun, known as Laoniangniang, belief in Beijing-Tianjin area. The paper discusses its historical changes and transformation through methods of text analysis and fieldwork. The historical changes of Miaofeng Mountain temple festival are organized as follow: 1) its origin, 2) the space-time distribution, 3) the ritualized behavior and interactive mode of incense organizations (Xianghui) and unorganized discrete pilgrims when offering incense and sacrifices, and 4) the impact brought by the participation of special forces represented by the Bannermen and the royal family of Qing dynasty. The driving force behind the contemporary transformation of Miaofeng Mountain temple festival is mainly tourism economy, leisure culture and the decline of the sanctity of the goddess beliefs. Changes were found in temples, managers, the time of the temple festival, the roads to the mountain, the composition and mind set of the Xianghui, etc. (Source: journal)


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)


Wang-Riese, Xiaobing. "Popular Religious Elements in the Modern Confucius Cult." In Chinese and European Perspectives on the Study of Chinese Popular Religions, edited by Philip Clart. Taipei: Boyang Publishing, 2012. Pp.95-128.

Abstract: Starting with a brief historical review, this paper examines several official and nonofficial sacrificial rituals dedicated to Confucius in current times, as well as the popular religious elements included therein. With the collapse of the Chinese Empire at the beginning of the 20th century, Confucius’ cult lost its official status and had to find new forms more adaptive to modern Chinese society. In contrast to the orthodox sacrificial ritual in Imperial times, the reconstructed or newly invented rituals show a more secular character with some additional popular religious elements. Although commemorating events with the intervention of public authorities and rational behaviour patterns represent the main trend of the cult, the market for popular Confucianism is also huge. If the authorities were to relinquish their control in this domain, a strong movement of popular Confucianism might arise in mainland China similar to the one that exists in Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia. (Source: book)


Watson, James L. "Fighting with Operas: Processionals, Politics, and the Specter of Violence in Rural Hong Kong." In: James L. Watson & Rubie S. Watson, eds. Village Life in Hong Kong: Politics, Gender, and Ritual in the New Territories. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 2004. Pp. 311-324.


Watson, James L. "Standardizing the Gods: the Promotion of Tian Hou ('Empress of Heaven') along the South China Coast, 960-1960." In: James L. Watson & Rubie S. Watson, eds. Village Life in Hong Kong: Politics, Gender, and Ritual in the New Territories. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 2004. Pp. 269-310


Watson, James L. "Orthopraxy Revisited." Modern China 33(2007)1: 154-158. (Note: Response to articles in special issue of this journal.)


Watson, Rubie S., "Chinese Bridal Laments: The Claims of a Dutiful Daughter." In: Yung, Bell, Evelyn S. Rawski & Rubie S. Watson [eds.], Harmony and Counterpoint: Ritual Music in Chinese Context. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1996. Pp.107-129.


Watson, Rubie S., "Chinese Bridal Laments: The Claims of a Dutiful Daughter." In: James L. Watson & Rubie S. Watson, eds. Village Life in Hong Kong: Politics, Gender, and Ritual in the New Territories. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 2004. Pp. 221-250.


Wu, Ka-ming. Reinventing Chinese Tradition: The Cultural Politics of Late Socialism. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2015.

Abstract: The final destination of the Long March and center of the Chinese Communist Party's red bases, Yan'an acquired mythical status during the Maoist era. Though the city's significance as an emblem of revolutionary heroism has faded, today's Chinese still glorify Yan'an as a sanctuary for ancient cultural traditions. Ka-ming Wu's ethnographic account of contemporary Yan'an documents how people have reworked the revival of three rural practices--paper-cutting, folk storytelling, and spirit cults--within (and beyond) the socialist legacy. Moving beyond dominant views of Yan'an folk culture as a tool of revolution or object of market reform, Wu reveals how cultural traditions become battlegrounds where conflicts among the state, market forces, and intellectuals in search of an authentic China play out. At the same time, she shows these emerging new dynamics in the light of the ways rural residents make sense of rapid social change. (Source: publisher's website)


Wu Shu-hui, "On Chinese Sacrificial Orations chi wen." Monumenta Serica 50(2002): 1-33.


Yang, Mayfair Mei-hui, "Putting Global Capitalism in Its Place: Economic Hybridity, Bataille, and Ritual Expenditure." Current Anthropology 41(2000)4: 477-509. (Note: On ritual economy of modern Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province.)


Yang, Mayfair Mei-hui, "Goddess Across the Taiwan Strait: Matrifocal Ritual Space, Nation-state, and Satellite Television Footprints." Public Culture 16(2004)2: 209-238.


Yeh, Chuen-rong. "Ritual Exchanges between the Han and the Siraya Pingpu: Bottle Worship in Taiwan." In: Religious and Ritual Change: Cosmologies and Histories, ed. by Pamela J. Stewart & Andrew Strathern. Durham, N.C.: Carolina Academic Press, 2009. Pp. 275-308.


Yeung, Tuen Wai Mary. "Rituals and Beliefs of Female Performers in Cantonese Opera." In: The People and the Dao: New Studies in Chinese Religions in Honour in Prof. Daniel L. Overmyer, edited by Philip Clart & Paul Crowe. Sankt Augustin: Institut Monumenta Serica, 2009. Pp. 303-325.


Yi Jo-lan. „Gender and Sericulture Ritual Practice in Sixteenth-Century China.“ Journal of Asian History 48, no.2 (2014): 281-302.


Yu, Jimmy. Sanctity and Self-Inflicted Violence in Chinese Religions, 1500-1700. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.

Abstract: In this illuminating study of a vital but long overlooked aspect of Chinese religious life, Jimmy Yu reveals that in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, self-inflicted violence was an essential and sanctioned part of Chinese culture. He examines a wide range of practices, including blood writing, filial body-slicing, chastity mutilations and suicides, ritual exposure, and self-immolation, arguing that each practice was public, scripted, and a signal of cultural expectations. Individuals engaged in acts of self-inflicted violence to exercise power and to affect society, by articulating moral values, reinstituting order, forging new social relations, and protecting against the threat of moral ambiguity. Self-inflicted violence was intelligible both to the person doing the act and to those who viewed and interpreted it, regardless of the various religions of the period: Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, and other religions. This book is a groundbreaking contribution to scholarship on bodily practices in late imperial China, challenging preconceived ideas about analytic categories of religion, culture, and ritual in the study of Chinese religions. [Source: publisher's website]


Yu Weijie, "Nuoxi Theatre in China." Archív orientální 64(1996)1: 115-134.


Yue Yongyi. "The Equality of Kowtow: Bodily Practices and Mentality of the Zushiye Belief." Cambridge Journal of China Studies 8, no.1 (2013): 1-20.

Abstract: Although the Zushiye (Grand Masters) belief is in some degree similar with the Worship of Ancestors, it obviously has its own characteristics. Before the mid-twentieth century, the belief of King Zhuang of Zhou (696BC-682BC), the Zushiye of many talking and singing sectors, shows that except for the group cult, the Zushiye belief which is bodily practiced in the form of kowtow as a basic action also dispersed in the group everyday life system, including acknowledging a master (Baishi), art-learning (Xueyi), marriage, performance, identity censorship (Pandao) and master-apprentice relationship, etc. Furthermore, the Zushiye belief is not only an explicit rite but also an implicit one: a thinking symbol of the entire society, special groups and the individuals, and a method to express the self and the world in inter-group communication. The Zushiye belief is not only “the nature of mind” or “the mentality”, but also a metaphor of ideas and eagerness for equality, as well as relevant behaviors. (Source: journal)


Yung, Bell, Evelyn S. Rawski & Rubie S. Watson [eds.], Harmony and Counterpoint: Ritual Music in Chinese Context. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1996.


Zhang Qingren. "The Logic of Chinese Local Religion - Analysis of the Statement of 'Serving Lao Niangniang' Claimed by the Incense Societies Pilgrimaging to Miaofeng Mount." Cambridge Journal of China Studies 9, no. 1 (2014): 96-108.

Abstract: The pilgrims heading for Miaofeng Mount address the Bixia Yuanjun as “Lao Niangniang”, and describing their religious practices as serving Lao Niangniang. These actions reflect the logic of the Chinese local religious practice. The motivation of religious practice is to obtain the goddess’ blessing. In the believers’ opinion, although all the believers pray in front of the goddess and pilgrimage to Miaofeng Mount, the religious practices are centred around the goddess and the blessings differentiate depending on the relationship between the goddess and the believers. The believers try to establish an intimate relationship with Bixia Yuanjun by addressing Bixia Yuanjun as Lao Niangniang and describing their religious practices as serving Lao Niangniang. Therefore they are able to use the moral obligation between relatives to ensure the goddess’ rewards. The logic of the local religious practices is then shaped by the Pattern of Difference Sequence of Chinese society. (Source: journal)


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.


Zhao, Xiaohuan. “Form Follows Function in Community Rituals in North China: Temples and Temple Festivals in Jiacun Village.” Religions 12 (2021).



Zhu Qiuhua, "Achievements in the Study of the Tongzi Ritual Drama in Jiangsu." In: Daniel L. Overmyer [ed.] (with the assistance of Shin-yi Chao), Ethnography in China Today: A Critical Assessment of Methods and Results. Taipei: Yuan-Liou Publishing Co., 2002. Pp.231-241.