7. Specific Deities & Cults


Allio, Fiorella. "Matsu Enshrined in the Sanctuary of World Heritage: The 2009 Inscription of 'Mazu Belief and Customs' on UNESCO's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and the Role of Taiwan in Preserving the Cult of the Goddess." In Yanjiu xin shijie: “Mazu yu Huaren minjian xinyang” guoji yantaohui lunwenji, ed. Wang Chien-chuan, Li Shiwei, Hong Yingfa, 91-180. Taipei: Boyang, 2014.


Andersen, Poul, The Demon Chained under the Mountain: The History and Mythology of the Chinese River Spirit Wuzhiqi. Berlin: G & H Verlag, 2001.


Anderson, E.N. “Meeting the Goddess: Religion, Morality, and Medicine in a Fishing Community in Hong Kong Forty Years ago.” In: Deepak Shimkhada & Phyllis K. Herman [eds.], The Constant and Changing Faces of the Goddess: Goddess Traditions of Asia. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008. Pp. 122-134.


Ang, Isabelle, "Le culte de Lü Dongbin sous les Song du Sud." Journal Asiatique 285 (1997) 2: 473-507.


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


Arnold, Lauren. "Folk Goddess or Madonna? Early Missionary Encounters with the Image of Guanyin." In: Xiaoxin Wu [ed.], Encounters and Dialogues: Changing Perspectives on Chinese-Western Exchanges from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Centuries. Sankt Augustin: Institut Monumenta Serica & The Ricci Institute of Chinese-Western Cultural History, 2005. Pp. 227-238.


Baptandier, Brigitte, "Pratiques de la mémoire en Chine: le dieu des murs et des fossés de Puxi et Hanjiang." Genèses 23 (1996): 100-124.


Baptandier, Brigitte, "The Lady Linshui: How a Woman Became a Goddess." In: Shahar, Meir & Robert P. Weller [eds.], Unruly Gods: Divinity and Society in China. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1996. Pp.105-149.


Baptandier, Brigitte; translated by Kristin Ingrid Fryklund. The Lady of Linshui: A Chinese Female Cult. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2008.

Abstract: This anthropological study examines the cult of the Chinese goddess Chen Jinggu, divine protector of women and children. The cult of the "Lady of Linshui" began in the province of Fujian on the southeastern coast of China during the eleventh century and remains vital in present-day Taiwan. Skilled in Daoist practices, Chen Jinggu's rituals of exorcism and shamanism mobilize physiological alchemy in the service of human and natural fertility. Through her fieldwork at the Linshuima temple in Tainan (Taiwan) and her analysis of the narrative and symbolic aspects of legends surrounding the Lady of Linshui, Baptandier provides new insights into Chinese representations of the feminine and the role of women in popular religion. [Source: publisher's website]


Berezkin, Rostislav and Vincent Goossaert. “The Three Mao Lords in Modern Jiangnan: Cult and Pilgrimage between Daoism and baojuan Recitation.” Bulletin de l’École française d’Extrême-Orient 99 (2012-13): 295-326.


Berezkin, Rostislav, and Vincent Goossaert. “The Wutong Cult in the Modern and Contemporary Suzhou Area.” Journal of Chinese Studies, no. 70 (2020): 153–200.

Abstract: This article explores the living Wutong cult in the Suzhou area. In continuation with its long history, this spirit-possession cult still has fortune-bringing and exorcistic di- mensions. The authors combine historical and ethnographic approaches to the Wutong beliefs with a focus on the pilgrimage to cult's centre at Shangfangshan (a sacred site in Suzhou) and the domestic worship of the Wutong in the Changshu area. This provides us with a perspective on this cult as built by ritual specialists and common believers. In both forms of worship, the baojuan storytelling is actively employed, and the Baojuan of the Grand Dowager (transmitted as manuscripts) thus appears as a key scripture of local beliefs. With the analysis of textual and ethnographic evidence, we move beyond the established argument about these infamous deities, which con- sists of questioning whether the Wutong are essentially immoral, and to what extent the attempts at taming and standardizing them have succeeded. We uncover the am- biguity of the Wutong, who are presented as dangerous and kind at the same time in the local sources. The scriptures of the cult, notably the Baojuan of the Grand Dowager, acknowledge this ambiguity, which underpins the gods' power, and develop ritual means to deal with it.


Berg, Daria, "Reformer, Saint, and Savior: Visions of the Great Mother in the Novel 'Xingshi yinyuan zhuan'." Nan Nü. Men, Women and Gender in Early and Imperial China 1(1999)2: 237-267.


Berndt, Andreas. "The Cult of the Longwang: Their Origin, Spread, and Regional Significance." In Chinese and European Perspectives on the Study of Chinese Popular Religions, edited by Philip Clart. Taipei: Boyang Publishing, 2012. Pp.61-94.

Abstract: This essay discusses the cult of the Chinese water deities called longwang (Dragon Kings or Dragon Princes). Deriving mainly from two sources - one the ancient Chinese belief in dragons itself, the other Indian snake deities called nagas or nagarajas that came to China along with Buddhism beginning in the first millennium - the cult became increasingly popular during the Tang and Song dynasties and can be found throughout the empire of the Ming and Qing dynasties. The essay focuses on how the expansion of the longwang cult can be explained. It argues that, despite historical developments, its expansion was mainly influenced by geographical factors like climate and topography. But these influences also modified the cult of the longwang: in late imperial China, instead of a homogeneous cult, a great variety of different forms of longwang worship existed. Local case studies from Qing dynasty Xuanhua (former Chaha’er), Changting (Fujian), Taigu (Shanxi), and Suzhou (Jiangsu) are introduced to illustrate these developments. (Source: book)


Berndt, Andreas. “Heiligkeitskonzeptionen im spätkaiserlichen China: Die Drachenkönige (longwang) im Spiegel zweier Werke der traditionellen Literatur.” In Sakralität und Sakralisierung: Perspektiven des Heiligen, ed. Andrea Beck & Andreas Berndt. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2013. Pp. 141-175.


Berndt, Andreas. Der Kult der Drachenkönige (longwang) im China der späten Kaiserzeit. Leipzig: Leipziger Universitätsverlag, 2020.

Abstract: Gottheiten des spätimperialen Pantheons wurden zumeist mit bestimmten Funktionen verbunden, welche sich ihrerseits an den Lebensumständen und den Bedürfnissen der damaligen Menschen orientierten. Auf diese Weise wurden Kulte und deren Inhalte geprägt, aber auch verändert. Am Beispiel der vorrangig als Regengottheiten verehrten Drachenkönige untersucht das vorliegende Buch, wie verschiedenartige Umweltbedingungen auf deren Kult einwirkten und ihn den Gegebenheiten zweier Regionen anpassten.

Bischoff, Friedrich A. "Sex Tricks of Chinese Fox-Fiends." In Hartmut Walravens [ed.], Der Fuchs in Kultur, Religion und Folklore Zentral- und Ostasiens (Teil II). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2002. Pp.1-6.


Boltz, Judith. "On the Legacy of Zigu and a Manual of Spirit-writing in Her Name." In: The People and the Dao: New Studies in Chinese Religions in Honour of Prof. Daniel L. Overmyer, edited by Philip Clart & Paul Crowe. Sankt Augustin: Institut Monumenta Serica, 2009. Pp. 349-388.


Bonk, James. “Loyal Souls Come Home: Manifest Loyalty Shrines and the Decentering of War Commemoration in the Qing Empire (1724-1803).” Late Imperial China 28, no. 2 (2017): 61-107.


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.


Bosco, Joseph & Puay-Peng Ho, Temples of the Empress of Heaven. Hong Kong: Oxford University Press, 1999.


Bryson, Megan. Goddess on the Frontier: Religion, Ethnicity, and Gender in Southwest China. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2016.

Abstract: Dali is a small region on a high plateau in Southeast Asia. Its main deity, Baijie, has assumed several gendered forms throughout the area's history: Buddhist goddess, the mother of Dali's founder, a widowed martyr, and a village divinity. What accounts for so many different incarnations of a local deity? Goddess on the Frontier argues that Dali's encounters with forces beyond region and nation have influenced the goddess's transformations. Dali sits at the cultural crossroads of Southeast Asia, India, and Tibet; it has been claimed by different countries but is currently part of Yunnan Province in Southwest China. Megan Bryson incorporates historical-textual studies, art history, and ethnography in her book to argue that Baijie provided a regional identity that enabled Dali to position itself geopolitically and historically. In doing so, Bryson provides a case study of how people craft local identities out of disparate cultural elements and how these local identities transform over time in relation to larger historical changes—including the increasing presence of the Chinese state. (Source: publisher's website)


Bujard, Marianne, " Le culte du Joyau de Chen: culte historique--culte vivant." Cahiers d'Extrême-Asie 10(1998): 131-181.


Bujard, Marianne & Christian Lamouroux, "La fête du Roi de la Médicine à Yaoxian (Shaanxi)." Bulletin de l'École française d'Extrême-Orient 85(1998): 422-428.


Bujard, Marianne, "Le culte de Wangzi Qiao ou la longue carriere d'un immortel." Études chinoises 19(2000)1-2: 115-158.


Bujard, Marianne. “Construction, organisation et histoire du territoire liturgique de la Dame du Yaoshan.” Bulletin de l’École française d’Extrême-Orient 99 (2012-13): 228-293.


Cai, Jiehua. Das Tianfei niangma zhuan des Wu Huanchu. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2014. (Maritime Asia, vol. 26)

Abstract: Das Tianfei niangma zhuan des Wu Huanchu ist ein kurzer Roman aus der späten Ming-Zeit (1368-1644) über die Wundertaten der Göttin Tianfei, die - zumeist unter dem Namen Mazu - bis in die Gegenwart entlang den chinesischen Küsten und weit darüber hinaus als Schutzpatronin der Seefahrer verehrt wird. Die Erzählung berichtet von zwei bösen Dämonen - einem Affen- und einem Krokodilgeist -, die aus dem Himmel fliehen. Das veranlasst die mitfühlende Tochter eines Sternenfürsten, persönlich in die Welt der Menschen hinabzusteigen, um Unheil abzuwenden und für Ordnung zu sorgen. Sie wird dazu in die Familie Lin geboren, steigt schließlich als Tianfei erneut in den Himmel auf und jagt die beiden Flüchtigen, auch jenseits der Reichsgrenzen, bis sie diese nach zahlreichen Abenteuern zur Strecke bringt. In einer ausführlichen Studie der Hauptfiguren der Erzählung wird der langen Tradition dieser Götter und Monster in der chinesischen Literaturgeschichte nachgegangen, um so dem Schaffen des Verfassers näher auf die Spur zu kommen und die Feinheiten des Romans auskosten zu können. Auf der Grundlage dieser Detailstudien werden abschließend strukturelle und inhaltliche Deutungsansätze geboten, welche die religionshistorische Bedeutung des Tianfei niangma zhuan unterstreichen. (Source: publisher's website)


Cai Jiehua & Marc Nürnberger, eds. The Mazu Cult: Historical Studies and Cross-Cultural Comparisons. Lisbon: Centro Cientifico e Cultural de Macau/Centro de História da Universidade de Lisboa, 2017.


Cahill, Suzanne, "The Goddess, the Emperor, and the Adept: The Queen Mother of the West as Bestower of Legitimacy and Immortality." In: Elisabeth Benard & Beverly Moon [eds.], Goddesses Who Rule. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. Pp.197-214.


Camhi-Rayer, Bernadette. "Why Do They 'Walk the Walk'? A Comparative Analysis of Two Pilgrimages, Dajia Mazu in Taiwan and Lourdes in France: Political, Sociological and Spiritual Aspects." In Yanjiu xin shijie: “Mazu yu Huaren minjian xinyang” guoji yantaohui lunwenji, ed. Wang Chien-chuan, Li Shiwei, Hong Yingfa, 79-89. Taipei: Boyang, 2014.


Cedzich, Ursula-Angelika (1995), "The Cult of the Wu-t'ung/Wu-hsien in History and Fiction. The Religious Roots of the Journey to the South." In: Johnson, David [ed.], Ritual and Scripture in Chinese Popular Religion. Five Studies. Berkeley, Calif.: Chinese Popular Culture Project, 1995. Pp.137-218.


Chan, Beverly, "Shuiyue Guanyin in China: The Way of Compassion." Ph.D. dissertation, California Institute of Integral Studies, 1996.


Chan, Kwok-shin. “Temple Festivals, Social Networks, and Communal Relationships: The Development of a Local Cult in Macau.” In China Networks, edited by Jens Damm and Mechthild Leutner, 118–126. Berlin: Lit, 2009. (Berliner China-Hefte/ Chinese History and Society, vol. 35)


Chao, Shin-yi. "Zhenwu: The Cult of a Chinese Warrior God from the Song to the Ming Dynasties (960-1368)." Ph.D. dissertation, University of British Columbia, 2003.

Abstract: This study explores the interaction between Daoism and popular religion in China by focusing on the development and evolution of a cult that centered on a deity called the Perfected Warrior (Zhenwu). His cult has flourished across China since the eleventh century and is still alive in mainland China, Taiwan and overseas Chinese communities. To explore the diversity and complexity of this cult I employ a wide range of primary sources in my study including religious scriptures, stone inscriptions, official documents, private anecdotes, local gazetteers, and vernacular literature; many of them have never been introduced to the English-speaking world. In this study, I argue that the popularity of the Zhenwu cult is a result of a combined process of canonization and localization that transformed a deity of warrior origin into a multi-faceted and multi-functional god. This thesis is divided into two parts. Part I gives a general framework of the Zhenwu cult from ancient to late imperial times. In Chapter One, I trace the Zhenwu cult to his predecessor, Xuanwu (section 1), and outline the development of the Zhenwu cult among the people (section 2) as well as the imperial patronage bestowed on the deity from the Song to Ming dynasties (section 3). Chapter Two portrays Daoist images of Zhenwu presented in liturgical instruction manuals for Offering rituals (jiao), exorcism, inner alchemy, and military rituals. The chief mountain of the Zhenwu cult, Wudang shan, is discussed in section 2. Part II contains textual studies and case studies. In Chapter Three, I closely examine two "precious volumes" or baojuan (section 1) and one hagiographic fictional account of Zhenwu from the late sixteenth century, the Journey to the North (section 2). Chapter Four presents three case studies: the Zhenwu cult in Fujian, Foshan (in Guangdong), and Taiwan. These three case studies will demonstrate that the popularity of Zhenwu was not simply a result of a wide geographic spread of the cult but, more importantly of an enduring existence that resulted from successful localization.


Chao, Shin-yi. "The Precious Volume of Bodhisattva Zhenwu Attaining the Way: A Case Study of the Worship of Zhenwu (Perfected Warrior) in Ming-Qing Sectarian Groups." In: The People and the Dao: New Studies in Chinese Religions in Honour of Prof. Daniel L. Overmyer, edited by Philip Clart & Paul Crowe. Sankt Augustin: Institut Monumenta Serica, 2009. Pp. 63-81.


Chard, Robert L. (1995), "Rituals and Scriptures of the Stove God Cult." In: Johnson, David [ed.], Ritual and Scripture in Chinese Popular Religion. Five Studies. Berkeley, Calif.: Chinese Popular Culture Project, 1995. Pp.3-54.


Chen, Fan Pen Li. Journey of a Goddess: Chen Jinggu Subdues the Snake Demon. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2017.

Abstract: This book offers the first translation into English of the Chinese novel Haiyouji, as well as excerpts of a marionette play based on the cult lore of the goddess Chen Jinggu (766–790), a historical shaman priestess who became one of Fujian's most important goddesses and the Lüshan Sect's chief deity. The novel, a 1753 reprint of what is possibly a Ming dynasty novel, was both a popular fiction and a religious tract. It offers a lively mythological tale depicting combat between the shaman goddess and a snake demon goddess. Replete with the beliefs and practices of the cult of this warrior goddess, the novel asserts the importance of Shamanism (i.e., local religious beliefs) as one of the four religions of China, along with Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism. To further develop the links between literature and local religion, Fan Pen Li Chen includes translations of two acts from a Fujian marionette play, Biography of the Lady, featuring the goddess.


Chen, Frederick Shih-Chung. "Who are the Eight Kings in the Samadhi-Sutra of Liberation Through Purification? Otherworld Bureaucrats in India and China." Asia Major 3rd series, 26, pt.1 (2013): 55-78


Chen, Gilbert. "A Confucian Iconography of Cao E (Maiden Cao): Narrative Illustrations of a Female Deity in Late Imperial China." Nan Nü 18, no. 1 (2016): 84-114.

Abstract: This article examines the narrative illustrations of a female deity called Cao E (Maiden Cao), a work produced in eastern Zhejiang during the post-Taiping era. It focuses on the artistic composition and the cultural implications of this iconography. Using both textual sources and pictorial materials, this study investigates how this pictorial hagiography served as a forum through which a state-sanctioned local cult was visualized and perceived by a heterogeneous audience including itinerant officials, local elites, and illiterate commoners. The mixed audience had different understandings and expectations of Maiden Cao and her visual representation, among which gender-related issues were contested. The present study reveals a dynamic picture of how a seemingly orthodox work sponsored by local officials and elites could be sabotaged because of local people’s expectations of Maiden Cao, and her gender identity in particular. (Source: journal)


Chen Shih-pei. “Remapping Locust Temples of Historical China and the Use of gis.” Review of Religion and Chinese Society 3, no. 2 (2016): 149-163.

Abstract: Building temples in order to obtain relief from natural plagues was a common religious practice in premodern societies. In historical China, citizens built locust temples in hope of avoiding locust infestations. There were no centrally collected records in historical China of such plagues or other natural disasters. In order to discern patterns in the distribution of locust plagues over time and geographical space throughout historical China, this paper replicates the work of Chinese geographer Chen Cheng-siang, who used local gazetteers as major sources for collecting such data. The results of this paper include a modern GIS map of locust temples based on digital editions of local gazetteers, a GIS dataset, and a procedural method for constructing GIS maps on other topics mentioned in local gazetteers. (Source: journal)


Chen, Zhi, "A Study of the Bird Cult of the Shang People." Monumenta Serica 47(1999): 127-147.


Cheng, Christina Miu Bing, "Beyond a Cultural Register: The Charm of Tian Hou." China Perspectives 26(1999): 72-81.


Cheng, Tien-Ming; Chen, Mei-Tsun. "Image Transformation for Mazu Pilgrimage and Festival Tourism." Asia Pacific Journal of Tourism Research 19, nos.4-6 (2014): 538-557.


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


Cheu Hock Tong, "The Sinicization of Malay Keramats in Malaysia." Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 71(1998)2: 29-61. (Note: On the worship of Datuk Kong by Malaysian Chinese.)


Chi, Chang-Hui, "The Politics of Deification and Nationalist Ideology: A Case Study of Quemoy." Thesis (Ph.D.), Boston University, 2000, 236p.

Abstract: This anthropological study explores the cults of two ghostly deities emerging after 1949 on the Quemoy Islands, Republic of China. These cults became the foci of a symbolic contest between local inhabitants and the Kuomintang (KMT) military authorities over the interpretation of their meaning. Based on 11 months of ethnographic fieldwork and interviews conducted in 1996-97, as well as archival research, this work employs a case study of religion to examine the limits of authoritarian rule.

Quemoy is a KMT frontline military zone located in close proximity to the People's Republic of China (PRC) and was a symbol of the threat posed by the PRC during the Cold War era. The KMT had given high priority to controlling the islands by means of a military government and a nationalist ideology. To this end, it particularly sponsored the cults of a slain general, Li Guangqian, and another of a chaste female martyr, Lienu, to serve as the foci for veneration. They then became icons in a KMT Orientalist nationalist ideology in which they were officially deified and their worship was elevated in the manner of a state cult: the two deified martyrs received regular homage from the military. By contrast, local villagers interpreted the cults as an excuse for hot and noisy carnival celebrations that provided a temporary liberation from the prevailing nationalist ideology and military gaze.

With the end of the Cold War and reduced tension in the Taiwan Strait in the late 1980s, KMT Orientalist nationalism began to lose its grip. In consequence, the meaning of the cults was replaced with themes that reflected a search for a new Taiwanese identity and nationhood. This dynamic politics of deification now stands for the contesting forces in a quest for nationhood.

This dissertation takes villagers' interpretations as a case of what Bakhtin called "dialogized heteroglossia," where events are loaded with possible meanings in specific contexts. It sheds light on the anthropological study of religion and state hegemony by showing the dynamics of discourse objectifying local consciousness under authoritarian rule. [Source: Dissertation Abstracts International]


Chi, Chang-hui. “The Death of a Virgin: the Cult of Wang Yulan and Nationalism in Jinmen, Taiwan.” Anthropological Quarterly 82.3 (2009): 669-690.

Abstract: This article explores the impact of the global Cold War on local politics through the study of a state deified female ghost Wang Yulan in Jinmen, Taiwan. The liminal status of ghosts in the Chinese celestial order makes room for possible multiple meanings of state-local contestation. Civilians’ interpretations of the cult engaged with the official discourse to generate what Bakhtin called “dialogized heteroglossia,” revealing the limits of state control over interpretation and ambiguous relations between the state and local society under martial law.


Chia, Jack Meng-Tat. “Sacred Ties across the Seas: The Cult of Guangze Zunwang and its Religious Network in the Chinese Diaspora, 19th Century—2009.” M.A. Dissertation, Department of History, National University of Singapore, 2009. Website: https://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/bitstream/handle/10635/16305/ChiaMT.pdf?sequence=1

Abstract: Large scale Chinese emigration began in the mid-nineteenth century and lasted through the first half of twentieth century. The migration of the Nan'an people contributed to the religious spread of Guangze Zunwang's cult from Southeast China to Southeast Asia in general, and Singapore and Malaysia in particular. The arrival and settlement of the Nan'an migrants prompted the establishment of Guangze Zunwang temples in the two host countries. This study examines the cult of Guangze Zunwang and its religious network connecting Southeast China and the Chinese communities in Singapore and Malaysia from the early nineteenth century to 2009. It argues that the diasporic religious network of the Guangze Zunwang's cult has a significant role in the trans-regional movement of resources between China and the Chinese overseas. As this research will illustrate, temples were important institutions for the Chinese diaspora, in which they served as important nodes in this diasporic network.


Chia, Jack Meng-Tat. “A Recent Quest for Religious Roots: The Revival of the Guangze Zunwang Cult and Its Sino-Southeast Asian Networks, 1978-2009.” Journal of Chinese Religions 41.2 (2013): 91-123.

Abstract: This article examines issues surrounding the revival of the cult of Guangze Zunwang and its religious networks between Southeast China and the Chinese in Malaysia and Singapore from 1978 to 2009. It reveals that the quest of overseas Chinese for the religious roots of Guangze Zunwang’s cult has contributed to the rebuilding of the Shishan Fengshan Si in particular and the cult’s sacred sites in general. The resurgence of diasporic religious networks has facilitated the transnational movement of financial resources and allowed overseas Chinese to make regular pilgrimages and participate in the cult’s religious activities in China. I argue that, on the one hand, this renewal of religious ties, which has led to the proliferation of pilgrimages and religious excursions to the cult’s sacred sites in China, and expeditions from China to Malaysia and Singapore, has benefited both the Shishan Fengshan Si and the overseas temples; on the other hand, it led to religious competition and inter-temple rivalries between the different principal sites of the cult in China. (Source: journal)


Chia, Jack Meng-Tat. “Who is Tua Pek Kong? The Cult of Grand Uncle in Malaysia and Singapore.” Archiv orientální 85, no. 3 (2017): 439-460.

Abstract: The arrival and settlement of Chinese migrants contributed to the spread of Chinese religious beliefs and practices from China to Southeast Asia. However, the arrival of Chinese beliefs and practices was more complex than being just a single-direction dissemination process. Chinese migrants not only transferred popular deities and native-place gods from China to Southeast Asia, but also invented their own gods in the migrant society. This article builds on Robert Hymes’s concept of the “personal model of divinity” to examine the multifaceted nature of the Tua Pek Kong cult in Malaysia and Singapore. It argues that in the absence of an imperial bureaucracy in Southeast Asia, the “personal model” aptly explains the proliferation of Tua Pek Kong’s cult among the Overseas Chinese communities. Tua Pek Kong was far from being a standardized god in a bureaucratic pantheon of Chinese deities; the deity was considered as a “personal being”, offering protection to those who relied on him. This article presents the multifaceted cult of Tua Pek Kong in three forms: a symbol of sworn brotherhood, a Sino-Malay deity, and a Sinicized god. (Source: journal)

Chia, Jie L. „State Regulations and Divine Oppositions: An Ethnography of the Nine Emperor Gods Festival in Singapore.“ Religions 11, no. 7 (2020): 330. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11070330

Abstract: Studies of popular Chinese religions in Singapore have mostly focused on the relationship between Chinese religious practitioners and state regulations delimiting land for religious uses. Local scholars have also studied the state's active construction of a domain within which local religions can operate, often rationalized as a means of maintaining harmonious relations between ethnic and religious groups. However, little attention has been paid to the symbolic spatial negotiations that exist between the gods and the Singaporean state. Through an ethnographic study of the Nine Emperor Gods Festival as organized by the Choa Chu Kang Dou Mu Gong (蔡厝港斗母宫), I analyze the tensions between the impositions of state authority upon the temple's annual festival and the divine authority of the Nine Emperor Gods, as reproduced in the festival's rituals and in the bodies of their spirit mediums. Borrowing Marshall Sahlins' idea of inclusive "cosmic polities," I argue that the Nine Emperor Gods, devotees, and state actors do not exist in separate "secular" and "divine" dimensions but rather, co-participate in the same complex society. By serving as a fertile ground upon which the divine bureaucracy of the Nine Emperor Gods is reproduced, the festival's articulations of divine sovereignty provide a potent challenge to state-imposed imaginations of space and expand devotees' understandings of agency from state-defined and into the larger cosmological order.

Chipman, Elana. "The De-territorialization of Ritual Spheres in Contemporary Taiwan." Asian Anthropology 8 (2009): 31-64.

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.


Chun, Allen, "The Changing Times of a Village Temple Alliance System in the New Territories of Hong Kong: An Analysis of a Tianhou Cult." In: Lin Meirong, Chang Hsun & Cai Xianghui [eds.], Mazu xinyang de fazhan yu bianqian: Mazu xinyang yu xiandai shehui guoji yantaohui lunwenji. Taipei: Taiwan zongjiao xuehui; Beigang: Chaotian Gong, 2003. Pp.57-78.


Chung Ho Kin, "Métamorphoses d'une figure mythologique: Erlang shen." In Jean-Pierre Diény [ed.], Hommage à Kwong Hing Foon: Études d'histoire culturelle de la Chine. Paris 1995. Pp.215-238.


Chuu, Ling-in Lilian. "The Cult of Guanyin Who Brings Sons in China." M.A. thesis, University of British Columbia, 2001.


Clart, Philip. “The Relationship of Myth and Cult in Chinese Popular Religion: Some Remarks on Han Xiangzi.” Xingda zhongwen xuebao 23 (2008): 479-513. (Supplementary issue, zengkan)


Clart, Philip. "The Eight Immortals between Daoism and Popular Religion: Evidence from a New Sprit-Written Scripture." In: Florian C. Reiter [ed.], Foundations of Daoist Ritual: A Berlin Symposium. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2009. Pp.84-106.


Clart, Philip. “Anchoring Guanyin: Appropriative Strategies in a New Phoenix Hall Scripture.” Min-su ch’ü-i / Journal of Chinese Theatre, Ritual and Folklore 173 (2011): 101-128.

Abstract: The fact that scriptures play such a significant role in the supposedly mainly oral culture of Chinese popular religion raises a number of questions: Who writes them? How are they used? What religious ideas do they manifest? How do they appropriate and affect the cult of their protagonist deities? The present article seeks to address these questions using the case of Guanyin’s Lotus Sutra of the Marvellous Dao (Guanyin miaodao lianhua jing), a text revealed between 1998 and 2000 by means of spiritwriting at a Taichung city phoenix hall, the Xuyuan tang. The analysis of the scripture’s structure and rhetoric reveals that the Guanyin sutra represents a mode of popular and sectarian engagement with the Buddhist tradition that differs from and enriches the picture provided for us by Chün-fang Yü’s studies of Guanyin and by Prasenjit Duara’s notion of “superscription.” While we are definitely looking at a layering of meanings, as Duara did by regarding the Guandi myth as “a palimpsest of layered meanings,” the image of “superscription” does not accurately describe the way the Guanyin sutra does not so much overwrite but underlay Buddhist devotionalism with phoenix hall notions of Dao cultivation. In effect, the Guanyin sutra provides an inclusivist re-anchoring of Guanyin-related devotional practices in a core set of sectarian notions of personal cultivation, thus allowing us to differentiate a distinct mode of the syncretic construction of religious doctrine in a popular sectarian context. (Source: journal)


Clart, Philip. “Han Xiangzi 韩湘子 in Popular Literature of the Qing Period: A Preliminary Investigation of the Hanxian baozhuan 韩仙宝传.” In Duoyuan yiti de Huaren zongjiao yu wenhua: Su Qinghua boshi huajia jinian lunwenji 多元一体的华人宗教与文化——苏庆华博士花甲纪念论文集/ Diversity in Unity: Studies of Chinese Religion & Culture: A Festschrift in Honour of Dr. Soo Khin Wah on His Sixtieth Birthday, edited by Yan Jiajian 嚴家建, 367-411. Sg. Buloh, Selangor: The Malaya Press 马来亚文化事业有限公司, 2017.


Colla, Elisabetta. “Preliminary Survey on the Identity of Mazu: Cross-Gender Polymorphism and Female-Centric Order.” In The Mazu Cult: Historical Studies and Cross-Cultural Comparisons, edited by Cai Jiehua & Marc Nürnberger, 129-145. Lisbon: Centro Cientifico e Cultural de Macau/Centro de História da Universidade de Lisboa, 2017.

Courtney, Chris. "The Dragon King and the 1931 Wuhan Flood: Religious Rumors and Environmental Disasters in Republican China." Twentieth-Century China 40, no. 2 (2015): 83-104.

Abstract: This article explores popular religious conceptualizations of the environment and disasters in early twentieth-century China. In 1931, the city of Wuhan experienced a catastrophic flood. Soon a rumor began to circulate suggesting that the disaster had been caused by the recent demolition of a local Dragon King Temple. This article examines this rumor as a mode of popular discourse, using it to illustrate debates among members of the local population regarding the link between the environment, religion, and disasters. It describes the place of Dragon Kings in late imperial religious environmental management, before discussing how the status of these deities was devalued during the early twentieth century. It argues that, in spite of vigorous attempts at secular reform, for a large section of the population the experience of disasters continued to be dominated by popular religious conceptualizations of the environment. While modern critics disparaged what they saw as lamentable superstitions, for many people rainmaking Dragon Kings continued to exist. (Source: journal)

Csete, Anne, "The Li Mother Spirit and the Struggle for Hainan's Land and Legend." Late Imperial China 22(2001)2: 91-123.


Davis, Edward L., Society and the Supernatural in Song China. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2001. (See ch. 4, "The Cult of the Black Killer")

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)


Davis, Edward L., "Arms and the Dao, 2: The Xu Brothers in Tea Country." In: Livia Kohn & Harold D. Roth [eds.], Daoist Identity: History, Lineage, and Ritual. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2002. Pp.149-164.


Dean, Kenneth, "Transformation of the She (Altars of the Soil) in Fujian." Cahiers d'Extrême-Asie 10 (1998): 19-75.

Abstract: Par un examen des transformations du she (autel du sol) dans le district de Putian (Fujian), l'auteur se penche sur la création d'un espace sacré. Il examine d'abord les notions du she dans la région de Putian sous les Song, puis le développement d'une hiérarchie des temples en site propre dans la plaine irriguée. Il analyse ensuite les efforts de la cour au début des Ming pour standardiser les she et les rituels afférents. A ces efforts succédèrent les modifications locales quant à la théorie et la pratique du she. Un travail sur le terrain dans la région de Jiangkou lui permet de scruter les mutations du she à la fin des Ming et sous les Qing. Il étudie par ailleurs les attitudes vis-à-vis du she dans des ouvrages littéraires et dans des inscriptions sur pierre datant des Ming et des Qing dans la région de Putian, ainsi que les changements dans l'organisation du rituel au niveau des villages. Du milieu des Ming jusqu'aux Qing, une transition s'opère entre les formes d'organisation rituelle basée sur le lignage ou la parenté et des formes à bases territoriales. Les dernières pages contiennent une discussion sur le recouvrement de l'espace sacré au cours des quinze dernières années. Cette étude montre que les efforts, au début des Ming, pour institutionnaliser les structures et cérémonies rituelles au niveau inférieur du canton ont entraîné des conséquences imprévues. Le travail sur le terrain au Fujian durant ces derniers dix ans a fait apparaître des matériaux qui suggèrent que ces autels officiels se muèrent graduellement en une strate sous-jacente d'espace rituel de religion populaire. Les mesures prises périodiquement par l'État--jusqu'à l'époque contemporaine--pour affirmer sa suprématie par l'imposition d'un modèle standardisé et homologué d'espace rituel ont causé une tension insoluble entre l'État et les communautés rituelles locales en Asie orientale. [Source: article]


DeBernardi, Jean, "Tasting the Water." In: Dennis Tedlock & Bruce Mannheim [eds.], The Dialogic Emergence of Culture. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1995. Pp.234-254. (On the God of Wealth, Caishen)


Dell'Orto, Alessandro, Place and Spirit in Taiwan: Tudi Gong in the Stories, Strategies and Memories of Everyday Life. London, New York: Routledge/Curzon, 2002.


Dell'Orto, Alessandro, "Narrating Place and Tudi Gong in Taiwan." In: Lin Mei-rong [ed.], Xinyang, yishi yu shehui: Di san jie guoji Hanxue huiyi lunwenji (renleixue zu) = Belief, Ritual and Society: Papers from the Third International Conference on Sinology (Anthropology Section). Taipei: Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica, 2003. Pp.37-86.


Diény, Jean-Pierre, "La légende, le conte et l'histoire: le cas du vénérable Zhang Guo (VIIIe siècle)." In: Jacques Gernet & Marc Kalinowski [eds.] (avec la collaboration de Jean-Pierre Diény), En suivant la voie royale: mélanges offerts en hommage à Léon Vandermeersch. Paris: École Française d'Extrême-Orient, 1997. Pp.315-328.

Abstract: The purpose of the present article is to show, by the use of a specific example, the vital role played in the writing of history by the strange and ambivalent collections characteristic of the literary production of China known as biji. The example chosen is the story of the Venerable Zhang Guo (8th century A.D.) about whom legendary, romantic or so-called historical biographies of different kinds have been produced based on a combination of elements taken from many biji. [Source: article.]


Dodgen, Randall, "Hydraulic Religion: 'Great King' Cults in the Ming and Qing." Modern Asian Studies 33(1999)4: 815-833.


Doran, Rebecca. “The Cat Demon, Gender, and Religious Practice: Towards Reconstructing a Medieval Chinese Cultural Pattern.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 135, no. 4 (2015): 689-707.

Abstract: This paper examines and contextualizes rituals and beliefs surrounding the cat demon (maogui). While the demon has been briefly discussed or referenced in earlier scholarship, there as yet exists no systematic attempt to understand how it is treated in various sources. The paper approaches the complex of practices and ideas associated with the cat demon as a unique and richly informative cultural phenomenon that is suggestive of tensions relating to gender and class. The paper begins with a close examination of materials surrounding the most famous and well-documented case of cat demon practice, that involving Dugu Tuo, the half- brother of Empress Dugu of the Sui (Dugu Qieluo, 544-602), before turning to medico-religious approaches and, finally, to transformations of the supernatural or demonic cat in post-Tang materials. (Source: journal)


Dudbridge, Glen, "The General of the Five Paths in Tang and pre-Tang China." Cahiers d'Extrème-Asie 9(1996/97): 85-98.


Fan Lizhu, "The Cult of the Silkworm Mother as a Core of Local Community Religion in a North China Village: Field Study in Zhiwuying, Boading, Hebei." The China Quarterly 174(2003): 373-394.


Faure, Bernard. „Indic Influences on Chinese Mythology: King Yama and His Acolytes as Gods of Destiny.“ In India in the Chinese Imagination: Myth, Religion, and Thought, edited by John Kieschnick and Meir Shahar, 46-60. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014.

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]


Fong, Shiaw-Chian, "The Politics of Narrative Identity in the Mazu Cult." Issues and Studies 32(1996)11: 103-125.


Formoso, Bernard. "Les adeptes de Ji Gong le 'bonze fou' en Malaise et a Singapour." Aseanie 12(2003): 73-104.


Frühauf, Manfred W., Die Königliche Mutter des Westens: Xiwangmu in alten Dokumenten Chinas. Bochum: Projekt Verlag, 1999. (Edition Cathay, Bd. 46)


Fryklund, Kristin Ingrid, trsl. The Lady of Linshui Pacifies Demons: A Seventeenth-Century Novel. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2021.

Abstract: The Lady of Linshui—the goddess of women, childbirth, and childhood—is still venerated in south China, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia. Her story evolved from the life of Chen Jinggu in the eighth century and blossomed in the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) into vernacular short fiction, legends, plays, sutras, and stele inscriptions at temples where she is worshipped. The full-length novel The Lady of Linshui Pacifies Demons narrates Chen Jinggu’s lifelong struggle with and eventual triumph over her spirit double and rival, the White Snake demon. Among accounts of goddesses in late imperial China, this work is unique in its focus on the physical aspects of womanhood, especially the dangers of childbirth, and in its dramatization of the contradictory nature of Chinese divinities. This unabridged, annotated translation provides insights into late imperial Chinese religion, the lives of women, and the structure of families and local society.



Ganany, Noga. “Baogong as King Yama in the Literature and Religious Worship of Late Imperial China.” Asia Major, 3rd ser., 28, no.2 (2015): 39-75.


Geiger-Ho, Martie. "Guardians of Fire and Clay: the Legacy of China's Kiln Gods." Studio Potter 28 (2000) 2: 49-54.


Geiger-Ho, Martie Jo. “Pathways of Transmission: Investigating the Influence of Chinese Kiln God Worship and Mythology on Kiln God Concepts and Rituals as Observed by American Ceramists.” Ph.D. dissertation, Texas Tech University, 2003.

Abstract: Designed to be an inquiry into both the past and living traditions and mythology of Chinese kiln god worship, this study investigates the manner by which these folk traditions and means of worship have been viewed and worked into discourse by Western historians and ceramists in the United States. Furthermore, by examining this research from the assumption that Western discourse on Chinese kiln gods has been recorded with a bias known as Orientalism that presents a biased view of the Far East, this study endeavors to present new insights into the possible motivations for why American potters would appropriate and engage in various aspects of Chinese kiln god worship. This study discusses issues concerning the control of Chinese cultural material by Western scholars, through research gathered from discourse, interviews, and my own ethnographic field observations of Chinese kiln god practices. Collectively the outcome of this research has yielded a study of Chinese kiln gods with a strong focus on the history of the kiln god deity Feng Huo Hsien, or Genius of the Fire-Blast who is still worshiped in Jingdezhen, China today. The legend of how Feng Huo Hsien lived his life as T'ung Bun, a Jingdezhen potter, and then earned his immortal namesake through the incredible act of sacrificing his body and soul in the fire of the kiln, is a tale that is central to the religious beliefs and practices of the ceramists of Jingdezhen. Additionally, I believe that the presence of Feng Huo Hsien's myth in American literature has also influenced the development of kiln god rituals among studio potters in the United States.


Gerritsen, Anne, "A Thirteenth-Century Cult in the Village of Ji'an (Jiangxi), or 'Fieldwork for Historians'." Journal of Song-Yuan Studies 33 (2003): 181-185. (Note: On the cult of Kang Wang.)


Gerritsen, Anne. "From Demon to Deity: Kang Wang in Thirteenth-Century Jizhou and Beyond." T'oung Pao 90 (2004)1-3: 1-31.


Gildow, Douglas. "Flesh Bodies, Stiff Corpses, and Gathered Gold: Mummy Worship, Corpse Processing, and Mortuary Ritual in Contemporary Taiwan." Journal of Chinese Religions 33(2005): 1-37.


Giuffrida, Noelle. “Representing the Daoist God Zhenwu, the Perfected Warrior, in Late Imperial China.” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Kansas, 2008.

Abstract: Zhenwu, the Perfected Warrior, emerged as an anthropomorphic deity in the early Northern Song (960-1126) and reached the peak of his popularity in the Ming (1368-1644). Prior to this time he was known as Xuanwu, the Dark Warrior, and appeared as a tortoise entwined with a snake. Widely varying representations of this Daoist god, one of the most prominent in the Daoist pantheon, coexisted throughout the Song and later history of his cult. Different images fashioned to serve different audiences reveal the wide social range of Zhenwu believers and shifting beliefs about the god's powers. Literary evidence combines with the ubiquitous pictorial and three-dimensional images to demonstrate Zhenwu's pervasive presence in the religious and cultural landscape. A scripture, sets of ritual scrolls, pictorial stele, cave temple, and an album depicting a corps of thunder marshals affiliate Zhenwu with the Daoist Thunder Department and with certain of its members, notably the Four Saints ( si sheng ). Zhenwu also appears in Daoist and Buddhist assembly paintings, murals and scroll sets, linked to performances of the huanglu zhai [purgation rite of the yellow register] and the shuilu fahui [rite for deliverance of creatures of water and land]. Fervent Yuan and Ming imperial patronage of the god's home, Mt. Wudang, gives evidence of Zhenwu's emergence as an independent deity with a cadre of assistant martial divinities. Many Ming statues represent his role as a tutelary god and his participation in the pantheon of Chinese popular religion. Ming illustrations of his hagiography in a woodblock-printed collection of stories, a canonical Daoist scripture, a painted album, a complex piece of sculpture, and an edition of the vernacular novel Beiyou ji [Journey to the North] indicate the appeal of specific episodes of his life story and show how they were adapted for different audiences. Through interdisciplinary analysis of the literary, historical, social, and religious contexts of key Zhenwu images, this case study demonstrates the extent to which Daoist imagery permeated the visual culture of late imperial China.


Glahn, Richard von, The Sinister Way: The Divine and the Demonic in Chinese Religious Culture. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 2004.

Abstract: The most striking feature of Wutong, the preeminent God of Wealth in late imperial China, was the deity's diabolical character. Wutong was perceived not as a heroic figure or paragon of noble qualities but rather as an embodiment of humanity's basest vices, greed and lust, a maleficent demon who preyed on the weak and vulnerable. In The Sinister Way, Richard von Glahn examines the emergence and evolution of the Wutong cult within the larger framework of the historical development of Chinese popular or vernacular religion--as opposed to institutional religions such as Buddhism or Daoism. Von Glahn's study, spanning three millennia, gives due recognition to the morally ambivalent and demonic aspects of divine power within the common Chinese religious culture.


Goossaert, Vincent. “Managing Chinese Religious Pluralism in Nineteenth-century City God Temples.” In Globalization and the Making of Religious Modernity in China: Transnational Religions, Local Agents, and the Study of Religion, 1800-Present, edited by Thomas Jansen, Thoralf Klein, and Christian Meyer, 29-51. Leiden: Brill, 2014.


Goossaert, Vincent. “Spirit Writing, Canonization, and the Rise of Divine Saviors: Wenchang, Lüzu, and Guandi, 1700–1858.” Late Imperial China 36, no.2 (2015): 82-125.

Abstract: This article aims to define one stage in the long history of the production of texts by Chinese elites using spirit writing. This stage lasted approximately from 1700 to 1858. It is characterized by processes of canonization, evidenced by two interrelated phenomena: the compilation of “complete books,” quanshu, for major savior gods (textual canonization), and their being granted very high-ranking titles by the imperial state (state canonization). Such processes were spurred by the activism of elite groups that promoted their values through their chosen divine saviors and their scriptural canons. The paper focuses on three gods in particular: Patriarch Lü, Wenchang, and Emperor Guan. The article discusses the textual and state canonizations of these gods and examines the social, doctrinal, and political dynamics that made them possible. (Source: journal)


Goossaert, Vincent. “The Textual Canonization of Guandi.” In Rooted in Hope / In der Hoffnung verwurzelt: China - Religion - Christianity / China - Religion - Christentum. Festschrift in Honor of Roman Malek S.V.D. on the Occasion of His 65th Birthday / Festschrift für Roman Malek S.V.D. zu seinem 65. Geburtstag, edited by B. Hoster, D. Kuhlmann, Z. Wesołowski S.V.D., 509-526. London: Routledge, 2017.


Graham, Fabian. Voices from the Underworld: Chinese Hell Deity Worship in Contemporary Singapore and Malaysia. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2020.

Abstract: In Singapore and Malaysia, the inversion of Chinese Underworld traditions has meant that Underworld demons are now amongst the most commonly venerated deities in statue form, channelled through their spirit mediums, tang-ki. The Chinese Underworld and its sub-hells are populated by a bureaucracy drawn from the Buddhist, Taoist and vernacular pantheons. Under the watchful eye of Hell's 'enforcers', the lower echelons of demon soldiers impose post-mortal punishments on the souls of the recently deceased for moral transgressions committed during their prior incarnations. Voices from the Underworld offers an ethnography of contemporary Chinese Underworld traditions, where night-time cemetery rituals assist the souls of the dead, exorcised spirits are imprisoned in Guinness bottles, and malicious foetus ghosts are enlisted to strengthen a temple's spirit army. Understanding the religious divergences between Singapore and Malaysia through an analysis of socio-political and historical events, Fabian Graham challenges common assumptions on the nature and scope of Chinese vernacular religious beliefs and practices. Graham's innovative approach to alterity allows the reader to listen to first-person dialogues between the author and channelled Underworld deities. Through its alternative methodological and narrative stance, the book intervenes in debates on the interrelation between sociocultural and spiritual worlds, and promotes the de-stigmatisation of spirit possession and discarnate phenomena in the future study of mystical and religious traditions.


Greene, Mark. "The Alchemical Lore of Wong Tai Sin and the Contemporary Pursuit of Transformational Wellbeing." Chinese Cross Currents 5, no.4 (2008): 90-102.


Greene, Mark. “Wong Tai Sin: The Divine and Healing in Hong Kong.” In Disease, Religion and Healing in Asia: Collaborations and Collisions, edited by Ivette Vargas-O’Bryan & Zhou Xun, 54-68. London & New York: Routledge, 2015.


Grootaers, W.A., Li Shih-yü & Wang Fu-shih, The Sanctuaries in a North China City. A Complete Survey of the Cultic Buildings in the City of Hsüan-hua (Chahar). Brussels: Institut Belge des Hautes Études Chinoises, 1995. (Mélanges chinois et bouddhiques, vol.XXVI). Contains information on many cults, with an in-depth study of the deity Zhenwu. See "Supplement": "The Hagiography of the Chinese God Chen-wu: The Transmission of Rural Traditions in Chahar." Pp.123-235.


Haar, Barend J. ter, "The Rise of the Guan Yu Cult: The Taoist Connection." 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.184-204.


ter Haar, Barend J. Guan Yu: The Religious Afterlife of a Failed Hero. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017.


Haar, Barend J. ter. “The Rise of the Northern Chinese Regional Temple Cults: A Case Study of the Worship of King Tang.” Minsu quyi, no. 205 (2019): 161–213.


Hall, Christopher A. “Tudi Gong in Taiwan.” Southeast Review of Asian Studies 31 (2009): 97-112.

Abstract: Studies of Tudi Gong ??? in English are relatively rare. This article reports the his- tory, faces, roles, and duties of Tudi Gong, one of the lowest-ranked gods of the tradi- tional Taiwanese pantheon, whose name can be translated as “Earth Lord.” Tudi Gong is the most ubiquitous and one of the most commonly worshipped gods in Taiwan; he is the approachable genius loci with access to the higher gods. This article brings together various perspectives on Tudi Gong from previous studies of Chinese or Taiwanese reli- gion. To these portrayals it adds notes from the author’s observations of worshippers and informal interviews at temples, homes, and other places around Taiwan in 2008.


Han, Seunghyun. “Shrine, Images, and Power: The Worship of Former Worthies in Early Nineteenth Century Suzhou.” T’oung Pao 95 (2009): 167-195.

Abstract: In the 1820s, the literati of Suzhou embarked on a project to build a shrine devoted to the worship of local former worthies and engraved almost six hundred portraits of the latter on the shrine's inner walls. Since the locality already had a paired shrine of eminent officials and local worthies, as had become the case across the empire since the mid-Ming period, why did they need to create a shrine of a similar nature? What was the cultural significance of introducing visual representations of the worthies in the worship? By analyzing the multiple layers of meaning surrounding this shrine-building activity, the present study attempts to illuminate an aspect of the changing state-elite relations in the early nineteenth century.


Heller, Natasha. “Using Mazu to Teach Key Elements of Chinese Religions.” Education about Asia 25, no. 1 (2020): 26–31.


Hinton, Carmelita, "In Search of Erlang." East Asian History 21(2001):1-32.


Hsieh, Daniel. "Fox as Trickster in Early Medieval China." In: Alan K.L. Chan & Yuet-keung Lo [eds.], Interpretation and Literature in Early Medieval China. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2010. Pp. 223-249.


Hsu Yu-Tsuen, Chang Wei-An, and Chang Han-Pi. “The Sarawak Dabogong Festival and Its Social Significance in the Chinese Community in Malaysia.” Review of Religion and Chinese Society 8, no. 1 (2021): 39–60.

Abstract: Dabogong is a Chinese deity with a widespread following in Sarawak; however, the connections between Dabogong temples are underdeveloped compared with that between Chinese subethnic associations.1 Therefore, Sibu Dabogong Temple proposed to establish an association to plan and oversee the Sarawak Dabogong Festival in 2009. Since then, the scope of the organization's membership and activities has become national as well as international. To learn how the social meaning of the festival is understood by the participants, we reviewed the local historical literature, conducted field research, and administered a questionnaire survey during the third Sarawak Dabogong Festival at Kuching 10 Miles in Sarawak in 2011. First, we explored the defining characteristic of Dabogong temples in Sarawak, the prominence of Dabogongin the Sarawak Chinese community, reasons for building temples, the accompanying gods in a Dabogong temple, and the timing of temple construction. Next, we examined the formation of the Dabogong Festival and the characteristics of the participants. Finally, we determined that the social significance of the festival can be attributed to its role in the transmission of Chinese tradition and the promotion of Dabogong belief.



Hu Baozhu. “Illicit Religious Activities under the Southern Song Dynasty: A Study on Chen Chun’s Shang Zhao sicheng lun yinsi.” In The Mazu Cult: Historical Studies and Cross-Cultural Comparisons, edited by Cai Jiehua & Marc Nürnberger, 69-88. Lisbon: Centro Cientifico e Cultural de Macau/Centro de História da Universidade de Lisboa, 2017.


Hu, Baozhu; Ptak, Roderich. "A Mid-Ming Pamphlet against Tianfei: Notes on Zhu Zhe's Tianfei bian." Monumenta Serica 61 (2013): 51-72.


Hu, Jiechen. “The Scripture of Filial Piety [Revealed] by Wenchang: A Bibliographical Study.” Acta Orientalia Hungarica 74, no. 2 (2021): 241–265.

Abstract: This article discusses the date of the Scripture of Filial Piety [Revealed] by Wenchang (Wenchang xiaojing 文 昌孝經). The central claim of this contribution is that the Scripture appeared during the Ming-Qing transition, being a product of the ritualisation of the Classic of Filial Piety (Xiaojing 孝經). By examining more than twenty different editions, this article identifies at least three different lines of textual transmission, each connected to distinctive commentaries and reprints. Confucian literati were the main social actors responsible for the creation, reproduction, redaction, and annotation of the extant editions.



Hymes, Robert, Way and Byway: Taoism, Local Religion, and Models of Divinity in Sung and Modern China. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2002. [Note: On various local and mountain deities in the Jiangxi/Fujian area, incl. Wang Wenqing & the Three Immortals of Mt. Huagai.]

Abstract: Using a combination of newly mined Sung sources and modern ethnography, Robert Hymes addresses questions that have perplexed China scholars in recent years. Were Chinese gods celestial officials, governing the fate and fortunes of their worshippers as China's own bureaucracy governed their worldly lives? Or were they personal beings, patrons or parents or guardians, offering protection in exchange for reverence and sacrifice?

To answer these questions Hymes examines the professional exorcist sects and rising Immortals' cults of the Sung dynasty alongside ritual practices in contemporary Taiwan and Hong Kong, as well as miracle tales, liturgies, spirit law codes, devotional poetry, and sacred geographies of the eleventh through thirteenth centuries. Drawing upon historical and anthropological evidence, he argues that two contrasting and contending models informed how the Chinese saw and see their gods. These models were used separately or in creative combination to articulate widely varying religious standpoints and competing ideas of both secular and divine power. Whether gods were bureaucrats or personal protectors depended, and still depends, says Hymes, on who worships them, in what setting, and for what purposes. [Source of abstract: publisher's webpage]


Idema, Wilt L., "Guanyin's Acolytes." 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.205-226.


Idema, Wilt L. Personal Salvation and Filial Piety: Two Precious Scroll Narratives of Guanyin and Her Acolytes. Honolulu: Kuroda Institute & University of Hawai‘i Press, 2008.

Abstract: The Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara was a handsome prince when he entered China. As Guanyin, the bodhisattva was venerated from the eleventh century onward in the shape of a beautiful woman who became a universal savior. Throughout the last millennium, the female Guanyin has enjoyed wide and fervid veneration throughout East Asia and has appeared as a major character in literature and legend. In one tale, Guanyin (as the princess Miaoshan) returns from the dead after being executed by the king, her father, for refusing to marry. The most popular version of this legend is The Precious Scroll of Incense Mountain (Xiangshan baojuan), a long narrative in prose and verse and a work of considerable literary merit. It emphasizes the conflict between father and daughter, in the course of which all conventional arguments against a religious lifestyle are paraded and rebutted. A lengthy description of Guanyin’s visit to the underworld, which focuses on the conflict between grace and justice, is also included.

Personal Salvation and Filial Piety offers a complete and fully annotated translation of The Precious Scroll, based on a nineteenth-century edition. The translation is preceded by a substantial introduction that discusses the origin of the text and the genre to which it belongs and highlights the similarities and differences between the scroll and female saints’ lives from medieval Europe. There follows a translation of the much-shorter Precious Scroll of Good-in-Talent and Dragon Daughter, which provides a humorous account of how Guanyin acquired the three acolytes—Sudhana, Nagakanya, and a white parrot—who are often shown surrounding her in popular prints. [Source: publisher's website]


James, Jean M., "An Iconographic Study of Xiwangmu During the Han Dynasty." Artibus Asiae 55(1995)1-2: 17-41.


Janousch, Andreas. “The Censor’s Stele: Religion, Salt-Production and Labour in the Temple of the God of the Salt Lake in Southern Shanxi Province.” East Asian Science, Technology, and Medicine 39 (2014): 7-53.

Abstract: This case study analyses religious and technological changes that occurred during the last seventy years of the Ming dynasty (1574-1644) around the Hedong Salt Lake, situated south of Yuncheng City in southern Shanxi province. Based on a close reading of inscriptions found on stone steles at the Temple of the God of the Salt Lake and of different kinds of gazetteers, the article documents the processes and analyses the factors that shaped the expanding pantheon of local salt-production-related deities during this period. I argue that these religious changes need to be understood in the context of a wider sociotechnical system around the Salt Lake, especially the emergence of new salt production methods that were introduced at this time under the increasingly affirmative leadership of local salt merchants, as well as the changing conditions of local labour management. The larger methodological point the article makes is about the necessity to take stone steles themselves in their spatial and material dimensions as evidence of historical processes: this will allow us to see that by means of these steles and their inscriptions the temple became an architectural discursive space that facilitated new forms of social participation and of administrative intervention, while offering simultaneously a nexus be- tween the sphere of human intervention and the relevant ‘natural’ factors of the salt production at the Salt Lake. Accordingly, the article proposes novel ways to understand the role of religious institutions such as temples in their relation to ‘natural’ and ‘technological’ processes. (Source: journal)


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 Eight Immortals: The Transformation of T’ang and Sung Taoist Eccentrics During the Yüan Dynasty.” In: Maxwell K. Hearn & Judith G. Smith [eds.], Arts of the Sung and Yüan. New York: The Metropoloitan Museum of Art, 1996. Pp.213-229.


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 (1995), "Mu-lien in Pao-chüan. The Performance Context and Religious Meaning of the Yu-ming Pao-ch'uan." In: Johnson, David [ed.], Ritual and Scripture in Chinese Popular Religion. Five Studies. Berkeley, Calif.: Chinese Popular Culture Project, 1995. Pp.55-103.


Ju Xi. “The Transformations of Our Lady.” Arts Asiatiques 74 (2019): 45–68.

Abstract: In 1890, the abbot of the Daoist monastery Baiyunguan in Beijing, Gao Rentong, commissioned a painter who remained anonymous to do a set of twenty-one paintings, The Transformations of Our Lady. These paintings show how Bixia yuanjun, an ordinary woman, transformed during her asceticism into a multitude of divided bod- ies before becoming the Primordial Sovereign of the Azure Clouds. Indeed, having become an adept of Daoist inner alchemy, she attained divine status. A specialist in Daoism, Liu Xun put forward the idea that this series owed its origin to the links between Baiyunguan and the imperial court at the end of the Qing (1644–1911), and above all to the Manchu noblewomen. In the article, the author demonstrates that the themes of the Baiyunguan paintings were probably based on the murals of a temple from the early Qing period in Hebei. In addition, she shows that their content, like that of the wall paintings, was taken directly from the Precious Scroll of the Taishan on the origins of the Celestial Immortal and the Holy Mother, a sacred writing (baojuan) that circulated widely in the capital region.


Kang, Xiaofei, "Power on the Margins: The Cult of the Fox in Late Imperial China." Thesis (Ph.D.), Columbia University, 2000, 414p.

Abstract: The dissertation combines the disciplines of Chinese religious, literary and cultural history to examine the relationship between local cult practices and power in late imperial society. It studies the fox cult, which was regarded as an "illicit" cult by official standards but flourished in north China among a wide range of social classes from the late sixteenth to early twentieth century.

Chapter One studies the marginality of fox spirits in early Chinese tradition. Chapter Two discusses how during the Ming and Qing periods (1368-1911) fox cult practices subverted dominant cultural norms yet remained indispensable for practical needs in everyday life. Chapter Three examines the ways in which Ming-Qing people interpreted the fox in relation to ghosts, ancestors, celestial bureaucrats and female deities. Chapter Four charts the interaction among fox spirits, local people and officials. Chapter Five examines the multiple meanings of huxian, a popular term with which people addressed fox deities.

The case of the fox cult suggests that in the face of consistent official proscription and suppression, popular cults survived and often thrived precisely because their "illicit" content accommodated socially suppressed voices and culturally repressed desires. The development of the cult was characterized by a dialectical movement of promoting the cult with official and public standards on the one hand and keeping it in line with personal, local and practical demands on the other. Cultural diversity and congruity were simultaneously produced in the practices of worshipping, exorcising, narrating and recording fox spirits at local, regional and national level and by the combined efforts of elite men, officials, and commoners. Shifting between official and unofficial boundaries, the people of late imperial China manipulated the marginal power of the fox to negotiate order out of cultural conflicts and compromises and to come to grips with larger social and political changes. The history of the fox cult illuminates the importance of religious beliefs and practices in today's China and relates the Chinese ways of life and thinking to cultures outside China. [Source: Dissertation Abstracts International]


Kang Xiaofei, "In the Name of the Buddha: the Cult of the Fox at a Sacred Site in Contemporary Northern Shaanxi." Minsu quyi, no.138 (2002): 67-110.


Kang, Xiaofei. The Cult of the Fox: Power, Gender, and Popular Religion in Late Imperial and Modern China. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006.

Abstract: For more than five centuries the shamanistic fox cult has attracted large portions of the Chinese population and appealed to a wide range of social classes. Deemed illicit by imperial rulers and clerics and officially banned by republican and communist leaders, the fox cult has managed to survive and flourish in individual homes and community shrines throughout northern China. In this new work, the first to examine the fox cult as a vibrant popular religion, Xiaofei Kang explores the manifold meanings of the fox spirit in Chinese society. Kang describes various cult practices, activities of worship, and the exorcising of fox spirits to reveal how the Chinese people constructed their cultural and social values outside the gaze of official power and morality.

Kang's book uncovers and reinterprets a wealth of anecdotal historical texts and works of popular literature and draws on her own ethnographic research. She considers how the fox cult operated on the margins of Chinese society as well as the fox's place in the popular imagination. As a symbol, fox spirits have long been marginal and variable creatures with the ability to freely change their gender and age, appearing as both evil and benign. The Chinese people, as Kang demonstrates, have drawn on and manipulated the various meanings of the fox spirit to cope with and give order to the changes in their personal lives and in society.

Kang also pays close attention to the ways in which gender was used to construct religious power in Chinese society. Gendered interpretations of the fox were used to define the official and unofficial, private and public, and moral and immoral in religious practices. Kang's analysis of the history of the fox cult addresses central questions in the study of Chinese religion and society, including the dynamic between cultural unity and variation and the relationships of various social groups to popular religion. [Source: publisher's website.]


Katz, Paul R., "Plague God Cults in Late Imperial Chekiang: A Case Study of Marshal Wen." In: Proceedings of the Conference on Temples and Popular Culture. Taipei: Center for Chinese Studies, 1995.


Katz, Paul R., Demon Hordes and Burning Boats. The Cult of Marshal Wen in Late Imperial Chekiang. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1995.


Katz, Paul R., "Enlightened Alchemist or Immoral Immortal? The Growth of Lü Dongbin's Cult in Late Imperial China." In: Shahar, Meir & Robert P. Weller [eds.], Unruly Gods: Divinity and Society in China. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1996. Pp.70-104.


Katz, Paul R., "The Cult of the Lord of the Hordes at the Abbey of Ksitigarbha in Hsin-chuang." Journal of Humanities East/West 16(1998): 123-159.


Katz, Paul R., Images of the Immortal: The Cult of Lü Dongbin at the Palace of Eternal Joy. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1999.


Katz, Paul R., "The Cult of the Royal Lords in Postwar Taiwan." In: Philip Clart & Charles B. Jones [eds.], Religion in Modern Taiwan: Tradition and Innovation in a Changing Society. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2003. Pp.98-124.


Katz, Paul R., "Daoism and Local Cults: a Case Study of the Cult of Marshal Wen." In: Kwang-Ching Liu and Richard Shek [eds.], Heterodoxy in late Imperial China. Honolulu : University of Hawai'i Press, 2004. Pp.172-208.


Kehren, Dorothée. "The Fox in the Early Period of China. Texts and Representations." In Hartmut Walravens [ed.], Der Fuchs in Kultur, Religion und Folklore Zentral- und Ostasiens (Teil II). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2002. Pp.7-23.


Kuah Khun Eng, Rebuilding the Ancestral Village: Singaporeans in China. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000. (Note: chapter 7 "Religious Revivalism" deals with the revival of the Qingshui Zushi Gong cult in Anxi county, Fujian province.)


Kohn, Livia, "The Taoist Adoption of the City God." Ming Qing yanjiu 5(1996):69-108.


Kohn, Livia, God of the Dao: Lord Lao in History and Myth. Ann Arbor: Center for Chinese Studies, The University of Michigan, 1998. See esp. ch. 6: "Art, Literature, and Talismans: Lord Lao as Popular Protector."


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.


Kleeman, Terry F., "The Lives and Teachings of the Divine Lord of Zitong." In: Lopez, Donald S., Jr. [ed.], Religions of China in Practice. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996. Pp.64-71.


Kleeman, Terry F., "Sources for Religious Practice in Zitong: The Local Side of a National Cult." Cahiers d'Extrême-Asie 10(1998): 341-355.


Kuah-Pearce Khun Eng. "The Worship of Qingshui Zushi and Religious Revivalism in South China." In: Tan Chee-Beng [ed.], Southern Fujian: Reproduction of Traditions in Post-Mao China. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 2006. Pp.121-144.


Lagerwey, John, "Dingguang Gufo: Oral and Written Sources in the Study of a Saint." Cahiers d'Extrême-Asie 10(1998): 77-129.

Abstract: Saint bouddhique du dixième siècle presque inconnu en dehors de la région hakka dans le sud-est de la Chine, Dingguang gufo fait l'objet, dans toute cette région, de cycles de légendes liés aux sites sacrés ainsi qu'aux pèlerinages. Les sources historiques du onzième au treizième siècles en font à la fois un héros civilisateur et la réincarnation du Bouddha du passé (Dipamkara). Les monographies locales permettent aussi bien de suivre le développement géographique du culte que d'en comprendre le lien intime entre les gestes du saint et le paysage. Cependant, seuls l'enquête de terrain et la collecte de traditions orales donnent accès à la sociologie du culte et au phénomène de sa localisation. Cet essai se veut donc démonstration de l'indispensable alliance entre l'histoire et l'anthropologie pour l'étude de la société chinoise et de ses dieux. [Source: article]


Lagerwey, John, "A Year in the Life of a Mingqi Saint." Minsu quyi no.117 (1999): 329-370.


Lagerwey, John, "Of Gods and Ancestors: the Ten-Village Rotation of Pingyuan Shan." Minsu quyi, no.137 (2002): 61-139. (Note: Pingyuan Shan is located in Changting County, Fujian. The article includes a study of the deity Fuhu.)


Lai, Chi-Tim, "Hong Kong Daoism: A Study of Daoist Altars and Lü Dongbin Cults." Social Compass 50(2003)4: 459-470.


Lai, Whalen W. "The Earth Mother Scripture: Unmasking the Neo-Archaic." In: Jacob K. Olupona [ed.], Beyond Primitivism: Indigenous Religious Traditions and Modernity. New York, London: Routledge, 2004. Pp. 200-213.


Laing, Ellen Johnston, "From Thief to Deity: The Pictorial Record of the Chinese Moon Goddess, Chang E." In: Dieter Kuhn & Helga Stahl [eds.], Die Gegenwart des Altertums: Formen und Funktionen des Altertumsbezugs in den Hochkulturen der Alten Welt. Heidelberg: edition forum, 2001. Pp.437-454.


Laing, Ellen Johnston. “’Living Wealth Gods’ in the Chinese Popular Print Tradition.” Artibus Asiae 73, no.2 (2013): 343-363.


Landsberger, Stefan R., "Mao as the Kitchen God. Religious Aspects of the Mao Cult During the Cultural Revolution." China Information 11(1996)2/3:196-214.


Lang, Graeme; Selina Ching Chan, Lars Ragvald. The Return of the Refugee God: Wong Tai Sin in China. CSRCS Occasional Paper No.8. Hong Kong: Centre for the Study of Religion and Chinese Society (Chung Chi College, The Chinese University of Hong Kong), 2002.


Lee, Anru & Anna Wen-hui Tang. “The Twenty-five Maiden Ladies’ Tomb and Predicaments of the Feminist Movement in Taiwan.” Journal of Current Chinese Affairs 39(3): 23-49.

Abstract: “The Twenty-five Maiden Ladies’ Tomb” is the collective burial site of the female workers who died in a ferry accident on their way to work in 1973. The fact that of the more than 70 passengers on board all 25 who died were unmarried young women, and the taboo in Taiwanese culture that shuns unmarried female ghosts, made the Tomb a fearsome place. Feminists in Gaoxiong had for some years wanted the city government to change the tomb’s public image. Their calls were not answered until the Gaoxiong mayor’s office finally allocated money to clean up the gravesite and, as part of the city’s plans to develop urban tourism, to remake it into the tourist-friendly “Memorial Park for Women Labourers”. Consequently, even though the tomb renovation seemed to indicate a triumph of the feminist endeavour, it was more a result of the Gaoxiong city governmurban revitalization. (Source: journal)


Lee, Anru & Anna Wen-hui Tang. “From the 'Twenty-five Ladies’ Tomb' to a 'Memorial Park for Women Laborers': Gender, Religion, and the Politics of Memory in Taiwan’s Urban Renewal.” Journal of Archaeology and Anthropology 75 (2011):37-70.

Abstract: This essay looks at the recent renovation of the Twenty-five Ladies’ Tomb, and examines the politics of the feminist movements and the politics of memory as they are expressed through different meanings of female ghosts, in southern Taiwan. People who were involved in the renovation process included the families of the deceased “twenty-five maidens,” the Kaohsiung city government, and feminist groups in Kaohsiung and elsewhere in Taiwan – most notably the Kaohsiung Association for the Promotion of Women’s Rights – all of whom had different considerations and therefore diverse expectations regarding the future and purpose of the tomb. In Specters of Marx (2006), Derrida uses the idea of “specters” and “haunting” as consequences of historical injustice and tragedy metaphorically but powerfully. These two elements come together in our essay as well. However, the “ghosts” in our accounts are more literally ghosts with whom some (if not all) of our ethnographic subjects interact. They appear, express their sorrow, and demonstrate their grievances. The reestablishment of peace and order essential to residents of both the living world and the afterlife thus hinges upon mutual understanding and close collaboration between them. Yet, as meanings are constantly contested, so is the nature of the deceased’s requests. The different interpretations that the (living) socio-political forces give to the deceased’s needs open up new terrains of contestation for the memory of the past and the rights and obligations at the present. Ghosts are agencies that inform changes in the social life of the living. (Source: journal)

Lévy, André, "Brève note sur un long bâton. À propos de l'arme magique de Sun Wukong dans le Xiyou ji." In: Jacques Gernet & Marc Kalinowski [eds.] (avec la collaboration de Jean-Pierre Diény), En suivant la voie royale: mélanges offerts en hommage à Léon Vandermeersch. Paris: École Française d'Extrême-Orient, 1997. Pp.329-331.

Abstract: This short note points to some possible Indian sources other than the Ramayana for the Monkey's cudgel peculiar feature of changing size at will. [Source: article.]


Li, Fong-mao. "It took a Millennium to be Mazu and Mazu Deserves to be Worshipped for a Millennium." Translated by Sue Wiles. Taiwan Literature: English Translation Series 14 (2004): 17-19.


Li, Yiwen. "Navigating Voyages in Real and Religious Life: The Big-Dipper Belief and Shipbuilding in Premodern China." Religions 11, no. 8 (2020): 398; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11080398


Li, Yuhang. "Oneself as a Female Deity: Representations of Empress Dowager Cixi as Guanyin." Nan Nü. Men, Women and Gender in China 14.1 (2012): 75-118.

Abstract: This paper discusses the practice of Empress Dowager Cixi’s embodiment of Guanyin, the most influential female deity in China. Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908), the ruling monarch of Qing China, embodied this deity via different media such as painting, fashion, and photographs. This study demonstrates both the religious and historical consequences of Cixi’s particular vision of herself as Guanyin. It explains how Cixi combined theatricality with religiosity in different media and how she fashioned herself in both roles simultaneously as Guanyin and ruling empress Cixi. (Source: publisher's website)


Lin Fu-shih, "The Cult of Jiang Ziwen in Medieval China." Cahiers d'Extrême-Asie 10(1998): 357-375.

Abstract: Jiang Ziwen était un fonctionnaire actif durant les années de déclin de la dynastie des Han Orientaux. Il fut tué par des bandits qu'il poursuivait du côté de Jianye, le Nankin d'aujourd'hui. Le culte de Jiang prit son essor aussitôt après sa mort. Son premier sanctuaire fut érigé sur le versant nord-ouest du mont Zhong à douze li de la capitale. Sun Quan, le souverain de Wu, conféra à Jiang un titre posthume. Graduellement, il fut promu dans le monde des esprits de marquis à roi, puis empereur, par les empereurs successifs des Six Dynasties. Il semble que Jiang était la divinité dominante de la religion populaire dans la région du Jiangnan et spécialement dans la capitale et ses environs. Bizarrement, ce culte médiéval important n'a suscité que peu d'attention chez les chercheurs. Quoique le développement de ce culte ait été tracé chronologiquement et examiné d'un point de vue d'histoire sociale, son aspect rituel resta complètement ignoré. Par un heureux hasard, plusieurs récits miraculeux recueillis dans le Soushen ji et le Youming lu suggèrent que le culte de Jiang Ziwen avait une relation étroite avec le chamanisme. En outre, ces récits littéraires sont spécialement utiles pour nous aider à cerner certains traits caractéristiques du chamanisme, tels que le culte aux victimes de mort violente, le culte à l'icône du dieu, la construction des sanctuaires, les sacrifices sanglants avec offrandes d'animaux, les performances musicales exécutées au cours du rite. Enfin, une analyse sociologique de ceux qui furent les patrons ou les rivaux de ce culte peut se faire en recourant à des ouvrages littéraires commes les zhiguai. [Source of abstract: article]


Liu, Xun. "Physicians, Quanzhen Daoists, and Folk Cult of the Sage of Medicine in Nanyang, 1540s-1950s." Daoism: Religion, History and Society 6 (2014): 269-334.


Liu, Yi, "A Discussion of the Worship of the God of the Kiln among Potters." China Archaeology and Art Digest 2(1998)3-4: 47-57.


Liu, Zhiwei, "Beyond the Imperial Metaphor: a Local History of the Beidi (Northern Emperor) Cult in the Pearl River Delta." Chinese Studies in History 35(2001)1: 12-30.


Lo, Roger Shih-Chieh. “Local Politics and the Canonization of a God: Lord Yang (Yang fujun) in Late Qing Wenzhou (840-67).” Late Imperial China 33.1 (2012): 89-121.

Abstract: In early February 1855, a group of “local bandits” led by Qu Zhenhan occupied Yueqing city of Wenzhou prefecture for a week. According to Qing officials’ report, this incident was suppressed by the divine manifestation of Lord Yang, a popular local deity in Wenzhou. Instead of focusing on how Qing authority regained control over local society, this article takes advantage of the local materials available in Wenzhou to explore the following two questions: How does a local deity function politically in local society? What is the role of popular religion in local politics and even national politics in late Qing China? This local history study sheds light on the significance of popular religion in Chinese political culture. (Source: journal)


Loureiro, Rui Manuel. “Brief Notes on References to Mazu in Sixteenth Century Iberian Sources.” In The Mazu Cult: Historical Studies and Cross-Cultural Comparisons, edited by Cai Jiehua & Marc Nürnberger, 147-159. Lisbon: Centro Cientifico e Cultural de Macau/Centro de História da Universidade de Lisboa, 2017.


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)


Meulenbeld, Mark. "Death and Demonization of a Bodhisattva: Guanyin's Reformulation within Chinese Religion." Journal of the American Academy of Religion 84, no. 3 (2016): 690-726.

Abstract: The Chinese goddess known as Guanyin may commonly be referred to with the Buddhist epithet of “bodhisattva,” yet her many hagiographies contain only the most stereotypical references to anything that could be defined unambiguously as “Buddhist.” Instead, the narrative of Guanyin that gains greatest popularity between the twelfth through the nineteenth centuries is one that describes the bodhisattva's last incarnation, as the unmarried Princess Miaoshan, within the parameters of indigenous Chinese religion—or, rather, its demonology. I argue that all of the many versions of Miaoshan's legend represent her deification into Guanyin as a process necessary for solving her spirit's demonical status that has arisen from the recurring violence done to her body by herself and her father. Moreover, I show how Miaoshan's narrative of a violated body is deeply rooted in practices of trance-possession that ultimately explain her efficacy. (Source: journal)


Mio Yuko. "Deified Ghosts: Popular and Authorised Interpretations of Religious Symbols." In: Suenari Michio, J.S. Eades & Christian Daniels [eds.], Perspectives on Chinese Society: Anthropological Views from Japan. Canterbury: Centre for Social Anthropology and Computing, University of Kent, 1995. Pp.136-155. (Note: On wangye cults in Taiwan.)


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


Morgan, Carole, "Traces of Houtu's Cult in Hong Kong." Journal of the Hong Kong Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 36(1996): 223-230.


Mori Yuria, "Identity and Lineage: The Taiyi jinhua zongzhi and the Spirit-Writing Cult of Patriarch Lü in Qing China." In: Livia Kohn & Harold D. Roth [eds.], Daoist Identity: History, Lineage, and Ritual. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2002. Pp.165-184.


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

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


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, Zhiru, "The Formation and Development of the Dizang Cult in Medieval China." Thesis (Ph.D.), University of Arizona, 2000.

Abstract: This study investigates the medieval Chinese formation of the cult of Dizang (Skt. Ksitigarbha; Jpn. Jizô), a Buddhist divinity especially popular in connection with East Asian beliefs about the afterlife. It explores why and how Dizang, an obscure figure from the pre-Chinese Buddhist pantheon, became in medieval China an important object of cult worship. A tendency to focus on the popularized characterization of Dizang as "the savior of the damned" has distorted scholarly understanding of this Bodhisattva, obscuring other developments of his personality, including afterlife trends other than the underworld function. To arrive at a more accurate re-construction of the medieval Chinese Dizang cult, this study examines a diverse range of evidences (canonical and non-canonical, textual and visual, as well as Buddhist and non-Buddhist) so as to ferret out threads of Dizang belief not documented in standard sources. Non-canonical sources are particularly highlighted since they frequently capture largely neglected aspects of religious development which must be studied in order to uncover the full complexity of medieval Chinese Buddhism.

In particular the formation of the Dizang cult supplies a crucial key to unlocking the larger cross-cultural patterns of religious assimilation operating in medieval Chinese society, which have wider implications for the study of Chinese religion. Previous studies on sinification in Chinese Buddhist history have focused on a particular thinker, a specific text, a single doctrinal concept, or one ritual practice, thus demonstrating the development of only one pattern of assimilation and reducing the complexity of the cross-cultural dynamic in which assimilation really took place. The Dizang cult instead allows one to better contextualize the patterns of cross-cultural assimilation in medieval Chinese religion. What distinguishes the Dizang cult from other examples of sinification is the manner in which the figure of Dizang functions as a religious symbol that integrates diverse religious planes, doctrine, mythology, ritual, and soteriology. The Dizang cult, in short, offers a single but kaleidoscopic lens that encompasses a multivalent religio-cultural assimilation, thus resisting usual bifurcations between doctrine and ritual, as well as between so-called "elite" and "popular" religion. (Source of abstract: Dissertation Abstracts International)


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

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


Nyitray, Vivian-Lee, "The Sea Goddess and the Goddess of Democracy." Annual Review of Women in World Religions 4(1996):164-177.


Nyitray, Vivian-Lee, "Becoming the Empress of Heaven: the Life and Bureaucratic Career of Mazu." In: Elisabeth Benard & Beverly Moon [eds.], Goddesses Who Rule. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. Pp.165-180.


Nyitray, Vivian-Lee. “Questions of Gender in Tianhou/Mazu Scholarship.” In: Chang Hsun & Yeh Chuen-rong [eds.], Contemporary Religions in Taiwan: Unities and Diversities /Taiwan bentu zongjiao yanjiu: jiegou yu bianyi. Taipei: SMC Publishing, 2006. Pp.127-167.

Ouyang Nan. "Localizing a Bodhisattva in Late Imperial China: Kṣitigarbha, Mt. Jiuhua, and Their Connections in Precious Scrolls." Journal of Chinese Religions 47, no. 2 (2019): 195-219.


Pomeranz, Kenneth, "Power, Gender, and Pluralism in the Cult of the Goddess of Taishan." 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. 182-204.


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


Poon, Shuk-wah. “Religion, Modernity, and Urban Space: The City God Temple in Republican Guangzhou.” Modern China 34.2 (2008): 247-275.

Abstract: This article examines the impact of the Nationalist regime's modernizing project on the religious landscape and people's public behavior in Republican Guangzhou. In the transformation of the Guangzhou City God Temple, urban space became a place of contest between the government's modernizing project and urban people's religious traditions. In 1931, the municipal government converted the City God Temple into the Native Goods Exhibition Hall, a political space that attempted to foster patriotic consumption among the populace. Yet, beneath the surface, the people of Guangzhou continued to treat the "exhibition hall" as a religious space for expressing their faith in their patron god. While the government was doubtless an important force in modernizing the urban landscape, the city's people managed to inscribe their values onto the urban public space. [Source: journal]


Ptak, Roderich. “Vom Weißen Aalgeist oder Baishan jing.” In Studien zum Roman Sanbao taijian Xiyang ji tongsu yanyi, vol.1 (Maritime Asia, vol. 23), edited by Shi Ping & Roderich Ptak, 119-138. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz; Shanghai: Shanghai Zheng He yanjiu zhongxin, 2011.

Abstract: In some earlier studies Xiyang ji emerges as a complex novel of quest. The quest theme and certain similarities between Xiyang ji and Xiyou ji are also addressed in the present note. Among other things, this implies that the heroes are moving from a familiar environment to an unknown space, where they are put to test. In Xiyang ji, the passage between both spheres is marked by a chain of initial challenges. One such challenge concerns the role of Baishan jing (White Eel Spirit), who threatens the fleet on the outbound voyage. Some years later, when the ships return home, he also causes trouble. Both episodes involve Zheng He and Zhang Tianshi. – The paper shows, how Baishan’s role and Zheng He’s behaviour should be understood and how one can relate the relevant segments to the overall structure of the story. It also provides some notes on the term baishan (and similiar expressions) and on earlier references to eel spirits.


Ptak, Roderich. “Qianliyan und Shunfeng’er in Xiaoshuo und anderen Texten der Yuan- und Ming-Zeit.” In Rooted in Hope / In der Hoffnung verwurzelt: China - Religion - Christianity / China - Religion - Christentum. Festschrift in Honor of Roman Malek S.V.D. on the Occasion of His 65th Birthday / Festschrift für Roman Malek S.V.D. zu seinem 65. Geburtstag, edited by B. Hoster, D. Kuhlmann, Z. Wesolowski S.V.D., 571-596. London: Routledge, 2017.


Ptak, Roderich. “Mazu and the Mid-Ming ‘Wokou’ Crisis: A Theoretical Approach.” In The Mazu Cult: Historical Studies and Cross-Cultural Comparisons, edited by Cai Jiehua & Marc Nürnberger, 111-127. Lisbon: Centro Cientifico e Cultural de Macau/Centro de História da Universidade de Lisboa, 2017.

Ptak, Roderich. "Zheng He und Mazu: Geschichte, Wahrnehmung und Kult." Saeculum 67, no. 2 (2017): 225-257.

Abstract: Chinese media frequently refer to Zheng He's spectacular voyages. Among other things, the historic Zheng He is held in high esteem because he supported Buddhist and Confucian ideas, while at the same time he came from a Muslim family and even contributed to spreading the belief in Mazu. Today, Zheng He is seen as a symbol of mutual respect, tolerance and peaceful cooperation. Mazu (or Tianfei) is the Chinese goddess of seafarers. According to tradition her cult comes from Fujian. As in the case of Zheng He, the central government took advantage of that cult for various reasons. Thus, the worship of Mazu repeatedly came to enjoy official recognition and support. The article investigates the background and development of both components, i.e., the veneration of Mazu and Zheng He. It explains why this highly complex theme is relevant for our own times. The discussion draws in Taiwan and the overseas Chinese and, above all, the so-called "OBOR project" (one belt, one region), through which China wishes to re-enact and wrap up in a new package the old idea of the "Maritime Silk Route".


Ptak, Roderich, and Jiehua Cai. "Reconsidering the Role of Mazu under the Early Hongwu Reign." Ming Qing Yanjiu 20, no. 1 (2017): 3–20.

Abstract: The worship of Mazu, the Chinese Goddess of Sailors, began in Fujian, under the early Song. Migrants from that province gradually spread this cult to other coastal regions and among the overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia. The present article investigates one particular episode in the history of the Mazu cult. Its stage is Guangzhou and the period dealt with is the beginning of the Hongwu reign. In 1368, Liao Yongzhong’s troops moved to that city, putting it under control of Zhu Yuanzhang, the first Ming emperor. Local chronicles pertaining to Guangdong and certain other sources briefly refer to this event. They report that Liao promoted the worship of Mazu in that region and they indicate that Mazu received an official title in 1368, by imperial order. The Tianfei xiansheng lu, one of the key texts for the Mazu cult, provides different details: It associates the title granted by the imperial court with the year 1372, and not with the context of Central Guangdong. Furthermore, the attributes which form part of the title vary from one text to the next. The paper discusses these and other points, arguing there could be two different narrative traditions surrounding Mazu’s role in 1368/72: the Guangdong version and the “conventional” view, similar to the one found in Tianfei xiansheng lu. Although there is no definite solution for this dilemma, the article tries to expose the general background into which one may embed these observations. (Source: journal)


Ptak, Roderich & Cai Jiehua: "The Mazu Inscription of Chiwan (1464) and the Early Ming Voyages." Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 167, no. 1 (2017): 191-214.

Abstract: There are several inscriptions in the famous Chiwan Temple near Shekou in Shenzhen. One item dates from 1464. This text is important for a number of reasons: It is an early document for the Mazu cult in Central Guangdong; it refers to several Ming envoys and thereby indirectly to the voyages of Zheng He; and it also tells us something about China's maritime connections after the end of these expeditions, in the Guangdong context. The present article provides an annotated translation of the text and discusses these and other issues, mainly by relating them to historical sources and religious works. (Source: journal)


Ptak, Roderich, Cai Jiehua. “Reconsidering the Role of Mazu under the Early Hongwu Reign.” Ming Qing yanjiu 20 (2016): 3-20.


Ptak, Roderich. “Fujianese Migrants and the Mazu Cult in Xiangshan, circa 1200–1550: Some Observations and Questions.” Orientierungen, Zeitschrift zur Kultur Asiens 31 (2019): 9–34.

Abstract: Fujianese migrants carried the Mazu cult to various locations along the China coast. This process already began in Song times. One area which repeatedly absorbed migrants from Fujian was the county of Xiangshan 香山, then a separate island, now forming part of the Guangdong mainland, especially of Zhuhai 珠海. The arrival of Fujianese merchants and settlers in Xiangshan gradually turned that county into an area with a strong seaward orientation. This involved the peninsula of Macau, where the Portuguese started to build houses from the mid 1550s onward. Merchants from Ryukyu and Southeast Asia, many of which were of Fujianese descent, also visited Xiangshan. The article summarizes the links between sea trade, possible economic changes, local demographic trends and the early presence of the Mazu cult on the island. It suggests that this cult became an important element in a kind of multi-ethnic and multi-cultural matrix that pre-dates the rise of Macau.


Roderich Ptak. “Mazu und Zheng He im Jahre 1403: Notizen zu Einträgen in zwei religiösen Texten.“ In Profesor Roman Malek SVD i jego dzieło dla Kościoła w Chinach: Księga pamiątkowa / Prof. Roman Malek SVD und sein Wirken für die Kirche in China: Gedenkschrift / Prof. Roman Malek SVD and His Work for the Church in China: Commemorative Volume, edited by Barbara Hoster, Dirk Kuhlmann, Michał Studnik SVD, and Zbigniew Wesołowski SVD, 263–281. Górna Grupa: VERBINUM, 2021.

Abstract: The Tianfei xiansheng lu 天妃顯聖錄, a familiar work, tells us that Zheng He 鄭和 undertook a voyage in 1403 and that Mazu 媽祖, the Chinese goddess of seafarers, assisted him in a storm. Another text, the Meizhou haishen zhuan 湄州海神傳, written earlier and less well known, refers to the same event. The present article examines the relevant parts in both sources. It offers suggestions regarding the possible interpretations of certain details and how they might fit into the general narrative of these accounts. The conclusion is that the entry in Tianfei xiansheng lu could be based on the earlier text and that historians must be careful when using such records for the study of Zheng He’s voyages.



Qu, Ray X. L. “Popular Religion Temples in Fujian, Southeast China: The Politics of State Intervention, 1990s–2010s.” Modern China 2020 (Online prepublication), https://doi.org/10.1177/0097700419899038

Abstract: This article presents an ethnographic examination of state intervention in popular religion temples in Fujian, southeast China. Specifically, it surveys the state presence in four temples, explores how and why the local state adopted a varied approach to religious organizations in the same religious tradition, and examines the mutually legitimating relations of state and religion. State-religion relations are constantly changing, highly variable, and context-bound. The state-religion interactions in Fujian demonstrate that to a certain extent the uneven revitalization of temple-based popular religion shaped, and was shaped by, the degree of state presence. I argue that the performance-based legitimacy of the nation-state has been fortified through local-state projects devoted to religious tourism, intra- religious competition, and the Taiwan issue, and that the Chinese state has the potential to influence a reemerging traditional form of authority at the local level through varying degrees of state presence in religious organizations.


Rack, Mary, "The Mu Yi Festival: Contesting Interpretations of a Territorial Temple Cult." In: Anders Hansson, Bonnie S. McDougall, and Frances Weightman [eds.], The Chinese at Play: Festivals, Games, and Leisure. London: Kegan Paul, 2002. Pp. 55-68. (Note: On a local cult in Yaxi village, near Jishou, western Hunan province.)


Reed, Barbara, "Guanyin Narratives--War and Postwar." In: Philip Clart & Charles B. Jones [eds.], Religion in Modern Taiwan: Tradition and Innovation in a Changing Society. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2003. Pp.186-203.


Reiter, Florian C., "Some Notices on the 'Magic Agent Wang' (Wang ling-kuan) at Mt. Ch'i-ch'ü in Tzu-t'ung District, Szechwan Province." Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 148(1998)2: 323-342.


Rubinstein, Murray, "The Revival of the Mazu Cult and of Taiwanese Pilgrimage to Fujian." Harvard Studies on Taiwan: Papers of the Taiwan Studies Workshop, vol.1, pp.89-125 (Cambridge, MA: Fairbank Center for East Asian Research, Harvard University, 1995).


Rubinstein, Murray A., "Statement Formation and Institutional Conflict in the Mazu Cult: Temples, Temple-Created Media, and Temple Rivalry in Contemporary Taiwan." In: Zhou Zongxian [ed.], Taiwanshi guoji xueshu yantaohui (shehui, jingji yu kentuo) lunwenji. Danshui: Guoshi Guan, 1995. Pp. 189-229.


Rubinstein, Murray A., "'Medium/Message' in Taiwan's Mazu-Cult Centers: Using 'Time, Space, and Word' to Foster Island-Wide Spiritual Consciousness and Local, Regional, and National Forms of Institutional Identity." In: Paul R. Katz and Murray A. Rubinstein [eds.], Religion and the Formation of Taiwanese Identities. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. Pp.181-218.


Ruitenbeek, Klaas, "Mazu, the Patroness of Sailors, in Chinese Pictorial Art." Artibus Asiae 58(1999)3/4: 281-329.


Sangren, P. Steven, "Myths, Gods, and Family Relations." In: Meir Shahar & Robert P. Weller [eds.], Unruly Gods: Divinity and Society in China. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1996. Pp.150-183. [Note: On Nezha, Mulian and Miaoshan.]


Sangren, P. Steven, Myth, Gender, and Subjectivity. Hsin-chu: Program for Research of Intellectual-Cultural History, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, National Tsing Hua University, 1997. (Hsin Chu Bank Endowed Lecture Series on Thought and Culture) [Note: On the "Third Prince Nezha" from the epic novel Fengshen yanyi.]


Sangren, Steven, "American Anthropology and the Study of Mazu Worship." In: Lin Meirong, Chang Hsun & Cai Xianghui [eds.], Mazu xinyang de fazhan yu bianqian: Mazu xinyang yu xiandai shehui guoji yantaohui lunwenji. Taipei: Taiwan zongjiao xuehui; Beigang: Chaotian Gong, 2003. Pp.7-23.


Sangren, P. Steven, "Separations, Autonomy and Recognition in the Production of Gender Differences: Reflections from Considerations of Myths and Laments." In: Charles Stafford [ed.], Living with Separation in China: Anthropological Accounts. London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003. Pp.53-84. [Note: Deals with popular stories about gods who must leave their families in order to achieve recognition. Nezha and Miaoshan are the case-examples.]


Schluessel, Eric. "Exiled Gods: Territory, History, Empire, and a Hunanese Deity in Xinjiang." Late Imperial China 41, no. 1 (2020): 113–157.


Seiwert, Hubert. "Ancestor Worship and State Rituals in Contemporary China: Fading Boundaries between Religious and Secular." Zeitschrift für Religionswissenschaft 24, no. 2 (2016): 127-152.

Abstract: The paper argues that the distinction between religious and secular realms of society is not as clear-cut in modern societies as it appears in theories of functional and institutional differentiation. The data used are mainly from China with a short excursion to the United States. The starting point is ancestor worship, which is a central element of traditional Chinese religion. The significance of ancestor worship in Chinese history and culture is briefly explained to illustrate on the one hand its central importance as a ritual practice and on the other hand the ambiguities of interpretation. On this basis, some theoretical considerations about the existence of ancestors are presented. This is followed by a report on contemporary temple festivals focusing on the worship of Fuxi, a mythic figure considered to be the first ancestor of the Chinese people. The next step is the description of official state rituals devoted to the worship of the very same mythological hero in contemporary China. Against this backdrop, the last part of the paper discusses the theoretical questions of classification and distinguishing between the religious and the secular. (Source: journal)


Shahar, Meir, Crazy Ji: Chinese Religion and Popular Literature. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Asia Center, 1998.


Shahar, Meir. „Indian Mythology and the Chinese Imagination: Nezha, Nalakubara, and Krsna.“ In India in the Chinese Imagination: Myth, Religion, and Thought, edited by John Kieschnick and Meir Shahar, 21-45. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014.


Shahar, Meir. "Newly-Discovered Manuscripts of a Northern-Chinese Horse King Temple Association." T'oung Pao 105, no. 1-2 (2019): 183–228.

Abstract: Written documents from rural north China are rare. This essay examines the newly-discovered records of a Shanxi village association, which was dedicated to the cult of the Horse King. The manuscripts detail the activities, revenues, and expenditures of the Horse King temple association over a hundred-year period (from 1852 until 1956). The essay examines them from social, cultural, and religious perspectives. The manuscripts reveal the internal workings and communal values of a late imperial village association. They unravel the social and economic structure of the village and the centrality of theater in rural culture. Furthermore, the manuscripts bring to the fore a forgotten cult and its ecological background: the Horse King was among the most widely worshiped deities of late imperial China, his flourishing cult reflecting the significance of his protégés – horses, donkeys, and mules – in the agrarian economy.


Sheng Kai. “The Different Faces of Nezha in Modern Chinese Culture.” Archiv orientální 81, no.3 (2013): 391-410.


Shiga Ichiko, "The Manifestations of Lüzu in Modern Guangdong and Hong Kong: The Rise and Growth of Spirit-Writing Cults." In: Livia Kohn & Harold D. Roth [eds.], Daoist Identity: History, Lineage, and Ritual. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2002. Pp.185-209.


Shih, Shu-ch'ing. "The Procession of Lord Guan Di." Translated by Hwang Yingtsih. Taiwan Literature: English Translation Series 14 (2004): 73-78.


Stevens, Keith, "The Han Lin Academy and a Chinese Deity." Journal of the Hong Kong Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 36(1996): 231-233.


Stevens, Keith; Welch, Jennifer. "The Celestial Ministry of Time." Journal of the Hong Kong Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 40(2000): 113-154.


Stevens, Keith. "The Popular Religion Gods of the Hainanese." Journal of the Hong Kong Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 41 (2001): 43-93.


Stevens, Keith. "Images on Chinese Popular Religion Altars of the Heroes Involved in the Suppression of the An Lushan Rebellion." Journal of the Hong Kong Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 40(2000): 155-184.


Stevens, Keith. "Patron Deity of Prostitutes: Zhu Bajie." Journal of the Hong Kong Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 40 (2000): 195.


Stevens, Keith. "The Popular Religion Gods of the Hainanese." Journal of the Hong Kong Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 41 (2001): 43-93.

Stevens, Keith. "Yang Laoda, the Spirit of the Yangzi, and Related Gods of the Yangzi and its Tributaries." Journal of the Hong Kong Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 47 (2007): 165-188.


Stevens, Keith. "Temple Dedicated to Emperor Yao in Yaocheng, Shanxi." Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Branch 53 (2013): 135-151.


Stevens, Keith. "Fox Spirits (Huli)." Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Branch 53 (2013): 153-165.


Stevens, K.G. "Images on Taiwanese Temple Altars of Koxinga and His Generals." Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong 55 (2015): 157-182.


Stewart, Pamela J., and Andrew Strathern. “Growth of the Mazu Complex in Cross-Straits Contexts.” Journal of Ritual Studies 23 (2009): 67–72.


Su, Xiaowei. "Researching the Image of the Yellow Emperor in China’s Early Textual Sources and Archaeological Materials." Journal of Chinese Humanities 3, no. 1 (2017): 48-71.

Abstract: In China’s early textual sources and archaeological materials, the Yellow Emperor ?? appears in the following three contexts: in genealogical records, among predynastic rulers, and in sacrificial rituals. The earliest appearance of the Yellow Emperor is probably in genealogical records; then, after being an ancestral ruler, he becomes the earliest emperor and a legendary ruler. This demonstrates his shift from an ancestral context to a monarchic context and illustrates the gradual yet colossal shift in ancient Chinese political thought from a system of enfeoffment built on blood relations to a system of prefectures and counties based on regional ties. The image of the Yellow Emperor in the context of sacrifice is closely linked to the yin-yang and five elements theories beginning in the later stage of the Warring States period; as society developed, this image also became associated with a certain Daoist path, thereby acquiring a religious value. (Source: journal)


Su, Yongqian. "An Exploration of the Queen Mother of the West from the Perspective of Comparative Mythology." Journal of Chinese Humanities 3, no. 1 (2017): 72-90.

Abstract: Constant interactions among cultures make it possible to conduct cross-cultural studies on the myth of the Queen Mother of the West. Since the original manuscript of the Classic of Mountains and Seas [Shanhaijing] served as the expository writing of the now lost Map of Mountains and Seas [Shanhaitu], there is reason to believe that it contains information on early depictions of the goddess. By revealing the symbolism at work in those descriptions and by consulting a wide range of ethnographic data, it becomes possible to reconstruct her primeval form. The Queen Mother of the West, once regarded as the Chinese version of the prehistoric Great Mother, was seen as the goddess embodying both death and regeneration. However, after the rise of the patriarchal system, the original Queen Mother of the West slowly fell into obscurity and was ultimately relegated to the subordinate status of a spouse for the Jade Emperor [yuhuang]. (Source: journal)

Sutton, Donald S., "Myth Making on an Ethnic Frontier: The Cult of the Heavenly Kings of West Hunan, 1715-1996." Modern China 26(2000)4: 448-500.


Sweeney, John A. “Unearthing the God of Place: Locating Space/Place in the Discourse(s) on Tudi Gong.” East-West Connections: Review of Asian Studies 8, no.1 (2008): 11-34.


Szekeres, András Márk. "Early Roots of Chinese Astrological Thinking in the Religious Belief of Di." Studia Orientalia Slovaca 12, no.2 (2013): 207-226.


Szonyi, Michael, "The Illusion of Standardizing the Gods. The Cult of the Five Emperors in Late Imperial China." Journal of Asian Studies 56 (1997) 1: 113-135.


Szonyi, Michael, "The Cult of Hu Tianbao and the Eighteenth-Century Discourse of Homosexuality." Late Imperial China 19(1998)1: 1-25.


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. "The Virgin and the Chinese State: The Cult of Wang Yulan and the Politics of Local Identity on Jinmen (Quemoy)." In Asian Ritual Systems: Syncretisms and Ruptures, edited by Pamela J. Stewart & Andrew Strathern. Durham, N.C.: Carolina Academic Press, 2007. Pp.183-208.


Tamaki Mitsuko. “The Prevalence of the Worship of Goddess Lin Guniang by the Ethnic Chinese in Southern Thailand.” In Xuezhe guan Dejiao 学者观德教. Edited by Chen Jingxi 陈景熙 and Zhang Yudong 张禹东, 503-520. Beijing: Shehui kexue wenxian chubanshe, 2011.


Thompson, Lydia, "Confucian Paragon or Popular Deity: Legendary Heroes in a Late-Eastern Han Tomb." Asia Major, 3rd series, 12(1999)2: 1-38.


Tischer, Jacob. Mazus neue Heimat: Interpretationen und Institutionen einer chinesischen Göttin in Taiwan. Berlin: regiospectra Verlag, 2014.

Abstract: Wie kann eine chinesische Göttin zum Symbol einer nationalen taiwanischen Identität werden? Welchen Einfluss üben lokale Gemeindetempel auf die Formulierung politischer Maßnahmen der taiwanischen Regierung aus? Welche institutionelle Rolle spielen sie im demokratischen Prozess? Diesen Fragen widmet sich Jacob Tischer in seiner Analyse der heutigen Bedeutung Mazus, deren Entwicklung er historisch nachverfolgt und dabei neben der religiösen auch politische und soziokulturelle Dimensionen einbezieht. Mazu ist mit über 800 ihr gewidmeten Tempeln eine der bedeutendsten Gottheiten Taiwans. Obwohl aus China stammend, ist die Göttin ein wichtiger Anker für verschiedene lokale und regionale Identitäten und wird sogar als Repräsentantin der Einheit aller Taiwanerinnen und Taiwaner wahrgenommen. Mazus Stellung als Schutzpatronin Taiwans ist jedoch – wie die politische Unabhängigkeit des Inselstaats selbst – aufgrund chinesischer Ansprüche prekär. (Source: publisher's website)


Tsai, Wen-ting, "Han Yu, Hakka, and Examination Hopefuls Come Together at Changli Temple." Sinorama 27(12): 80-88.


Tsang, Martin. "La Caridad, Oshún, and Kuan Yin in Afro-Chinese Religion in Cuba." In Religious Diversity in Asia, edited by Jørn Borup, Marianne Q. Fibiger, and Lene Kühle, 271–289. Leiden: Brill, 2020.


Verellen, Franciscus, "Zhang Ling and the Lingjing Salt Well." In: Jacques Gernet & Marc Kalinowski [eds.] (avec la collaboration de Jean-Pierre Diény), En suivant la voie royale: mélanges offerts en hommage à Léon Vandermeersch. Paris: École Française d'Extrême-Orient, 1997. Pp.249-265.

Abstract: Zhang Ling, fondateur du mouvement taoïste des Maîtres célestes au IIe siècle de notre ère, fut également vénéré comme héros civilisateur de la région du Sichuan. Le présent article propose une nouvelle lecture de la légende de Zhang à partir de cette perspective régionale. L'image du héros au sein de la mythologie de Sichuan ancien est illustrée en particulier par les légendes ayant trait à sa création du Lingjing, puits de sel important et source majeure de richesse de la région au Moyen Age. [Source: article.]


Wang Chien-ch'uan & Li Shih-wei. "The Introduction of the Mazu Faith and Its Dissemination during the Qing Dynasty." Translated by Jonathan H.X. Lee. Taiwan Literature: English Translation Series 14 (2004): 129-140.


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 Mingming, "The Fa Zhu Gong Festival: The Birth of a God or the Reproduction of Locality in a Chinese Village." In: Anders Hansson, Bonnie S. McDougall, and Frances Weightman [eds.], The Chinese at Play: Festivals, Games, and Leisure. London: Kegan Paul, 2002. Pp. 12-33. (Note: On a temple cult in Meifa village, Anxi county, Fujian.)


Wang, Shu-Li. “Who Owns ‘the Culture of the Yellow Emperor’?” In Heritage and Religion in East Asia, edited by Shu-Li Wang, Michael Rowlands, and Yujie Zhu, 32–52. London: Routledge, 2021.


Wang, Xiaoxuan. “Erlang shen: a Chinese God’s Origin and Its Transformations.” MA thesis, University of Colorado at Boulder, 2006.

Abstract: During the early 10th century CE, this god appeared as Guankou Shen, an incarnation of the famous Li Bing of Qin prefecture (modern-day Sichuan) who was celebrated as a hero for quelling the Minjiang River and building the famous Dujiangyan---waterworks of the third century BCE. He then was identified with the second son of Li Bing. He was recognized by the Song emperors. This cult thus spread nationwide and was also absorbed into Daoism in the early 12th century CE. Another identity of this god Zhao Yu replaced Li Erlang in some places during the 14th century. Zhao was tied to Jiazhou and was adopted by the Daoist. On the other hand, Yuan drama and Ming vernacular fiction reconstructed the god's image and created new tales, which contributed to the popularity of another identity of Erlang Shen---Yang Jian, who monopolizes the image of Erlang Shen in popular literature.


Wang, Xiaoyang, and Shixiao Wang. “On the Differences between Han Rhapsodies and Han Paintings in Their Portrayal of the Queen Mother of the West and Their Religious Significance.” Religions 13 (2022).


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)


Wang-Riese, Xiaobing. “Globalization vs. Localization: Remaking the Cult of Confucius in Contemporary Quzhou.” In Globalization and the Making of Religious Modernity in China: Transnational Religions, Local Agents, and the Study of Religion, 1800-Present, edited by Thomas Jansen, Thoralf Klein, and Christian Meyer, 182-207. Leiden: Brill, 2014.


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


Weigold, Katrin. “Guan Yus Gastrolle im Sanbao taijian Xiyang ji tongsu yanyi.” In Studien zum Roman Sanbao taijian Xiyang ji tongsu yanyi, vol.1 (Maritime Asia, vol. 23), edited by Shi Ping & Roderich Ptak, 171-189. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz; Shanghai: Shanghai Zheng He yanjiu zhongxin, 2011.

Abstract: Guan Yu, one of the heroes in Sanguo yanyi, also appears in chapters 75 and 76 of Xiyang ji. In this section, which is set in Mogadishu, Zheng He and his soldiers are confronted with Chanshi feibo, a powerful magician, who uses “flying saucers” to kill his enemies (hence his name). Zhang Tianshi, the Daoist leader in the Chinese team, is commissioned to clear the way for China’s fleets, but he cannot overcome Feibo. Therefore, he calls the Heavenly Marshal Guan Yu for help. Guan Yu quickly understands the situation and takes Feibo as prisoner. However, Feibo outwits his “master”: He reminds the latter of his virtues (an allusion to Sanguo yanyi, in which Guan Yu releases Cao Cao) and Guan Yu lets him go. – As in the case of the previous paper, this arrangement shows that the author has opted to “play” with a set of familiar elements, which includes Guan Yu’s sense of loyality and righteousness, but also his arrogance. By displaying these features against the background of a totally different setting, the author reveals a good sense of humour. Moreover, seen from the internal setting of the novel, Guan Yu’s behaviour can be interpreted as a blow against Zhang Tianshi, who stands below the Buddhist leader Jin Bifeng.


Weiß, Katrin. “Lishan laomu im Xiyang ji.” In Studien zum Roman Sanbao taijian Xiyang ji tongsu yanyi, vol.2 (Maritime Asia, vol. 24), edited by Shi Ping & Roderich Ptak, 107-121. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz; Shanghai: Shanghai Zheng He yanjiu zhongxin, 2013.

Abstract: In the Java segment of Xiyang ji Zheng He and his men are drawn into heavy conflicts that involve several female figures with supernatural powers: Wang Shengu, Huomu and Lishan laomu. They all belong to the Daoist world. The conflict is solved through the joint efforts of Guanyin, commonly associated with Buddhism, and the Jade Emperor, who belongs to the Daoist pantheon. While there is mutual understanding in the supreme spheres of “Heaven”, the “earthly” contest between Buddhism and Daoism, as represented through the rivalry between Jin Bifeng and Zhang Tianshi, remains a recurrent theme in the novel. It is largely against this background that the article analyses the role and story of Lishan laomu, her presentation in earlier texts, certain common features she seems to share with Nüwa, and possible influences of her description in Xiyang ji on later works such as the Fan Lihua quanzhuan.


Wilson, Rex. "Chinese Folk Religion in Macao: Ritualism or Relief?" Revista de Cultura, no. 48 (2014): 68-85.

Abstract: Although Chinese religion is characterised by Stephan Feuchtwang as ritualistic, meaning that the emphasis is on precise performances of ritual to achieve desired results, as opposed to religions such as Christianity and Islam that stress personal belief, the practices and beliefs described by worshippers in Macao of the popular Daoist god Nezha are not ritualistic. Chinese folk religion and Western Judeo-Christian religions have many differences but also many similarities. For example, the Nezha temples in Macao have no creeds, commandments, clergy, doctrines, scriptures, or sacraments such as in the Roman Catholic Church, nor do they have regular educational activities such as Sunday schools, sermons, or prayer groups. Nevertheless, from interviews with members of the two Nezha temple associations in Macao, we learn that their religion benefits members with ‘spiritual relief’ and the sense of belonging to a community. Their expressed beliefs are consistent with the four functions of myth identified by Joseph Campbell: metaphysical, cosmological, sociological, and pedagogical. (Source: journal)


Wilson, Thomas A. [ed.], On Sacred Grounds: Culture, Society, Politics, and the Formation of the Cult of Confucius. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, distributed by Harvard University Press, 2002. Harvard East Asian Monographs, 217.


Witt, Barbara. “General unter Jiang Ziya, göttlicher Beistand für Jin Bifeng: Der Himmelskönig Li im Fengshen yanyi und Xiyang ji.” In Studien zum Roman Sanbao taijian Xiyang ji tongsu yanyi, vol.2 (Maritime Asia, vol. 24), edited by Shi Ping & Roderich Ptak, 141-163. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz; Shanghai: Shanghai Zheng He yanjiu zhongxin, 2013.

Abstract: The “Heavenly King Li” (Li tianwang) – also known as the “Pagoda-Bearing Heavenly King” (Tuo ta tianwang), or Li Jing, etc. –, belongs to the Daoist pantheon. He appears in several popular narratives such as Fengshen yanyi and Xiyang ji – often together with his son Nezha san taizi. Usually they are portrayed as powerful, yet minor military characters with no individual traits, and they are instrumentalized by nominal leaders of different backgrounds, such as Jiang Ziya, Jin Bifeng, and others. The present paper outlines the historical roots of Li and then turns to his role in both novels. In each case – and that also includes another book, Xiyou ji – Li and his son are “adjusted” to the specific conditions of the narrative. To understand why this is so, one has to examine individual scenes and the functional dimensions of the major characters in these works. This kind of comparative approach permits us to draw several conclusions in regard to minor figures in different types of traditional novels.


Witt, Barbara. “The Hagiography of Tianfei in the Soushen daquan and the Zengbu soushen ji.” In The Mazu Cult: Historical Studies and Cross-Cultural Comparisons, edited by Cai Jiehua & Marc Nürnberger, 89-110. Lisbon: Centro Cientifico e Cultural de Macau/Centro de História da Universidade de Lisboa, 2017.


Wong Hee Kam. Guan Yu - Guan Di, héros régional, culte impérial et populaire. Sainte-Marie (Réunion): Azalées, 2008.


Xu Pingfang, "Les Découvertes récentes des statues de Sengqie et le culte de Sengqie." Cahiers d'Extrême-Asie 10 (1998): 393-410. (Translated by Marianne Bujard)

Abstract: Sengqie was a monk of the Tang period from Heguo in Central Asia. After Sengqie died in AD 710, in a posture of meditation, his remains were buried in the Puguang wang si monastery in Sizhou. Following a series of evidential miracles, including the appearance of an image of the Eleven-faced Guanyin and repeated supernatural manifestations, Sengqie was canonized as the Grand Master of Universal Awakening Great Saint of Sizhou. By Song and Yuan times he had become the object of a popular cult. On the gilded wood-carved statue that was excavated in the cript of the stûpa of Xianyan si monastery in Ruian (Zhejiang) is engraved the inscription "Grand Master of Universal Awakening Great Saint of Sizhou." In Song and Yuan times many monasteries contained a Sengqie hall in which Sengqie heshang, Monk Sengqie, was worshipped. In recent years, statues of Sengqie have been discovered in stûpa-foundations in many places. For example, the stûpa of Ruiguang si monastery in Suzhou; the stûpa of Wanfo si monastery in Jinhua, the Baixiang ta pagoda in Wenzhou, the Tianfeng ta pagoda in Ningbo (Zhejiang), and the stûpa of Xingjiao si monastery in Shanghai all have statues of the Great Saint of Sizhou Sengqie sitting upright with his eyes closed, in an attitude of meditation. These images constitute material evidence of the popular cult of Sengqie in Tang and Song times. [Source of abstract: article]


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.


Yang, Mayfair Mei-hui. “Goddess across the Taiwan Strait: Matrifocal Ritual Space, Nation-State, and Satellite Television Footprints.” In: Mayfair Mei-hui Yang [ed.], Chinese Religiosities: Afflictions of Moidernity and State Formation. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008. Pp. 323-347.


Yang, Yu. "Chinese Zhima Plates Held in Russian Collections, Part II, God of Wealth." Manuscripta Orientalia: International Journal for Oriental Manuscript Research 19, no.2 (Dec 2013): 26-30.


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.


Yip, Hon Ming; Ho, Wai Yee, "The Hou-wang Cult and Tung Chung's Communal Culture." Journal of the Hong Kong Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 36(1996): 151-183.


You, Ziying. Folk Literati, Contested Tradition, and Heritage in Contemporary China: Incense Is Kept Burning. Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 2020.

Abstract: In this important ethnography Ziying You explores the role of the "folk literati" in negotiating, defining, and maintaining local cultural heritage. Expanding on the idea of the elite literati—a widely studied pre-modern Chinese social group, influential in cultural production—the folk literati are defined as those who are skilled in classical Chinese, knowledgeable about local traditions, and capable of representing them in writing. The folk literati work to maintain cultural continuity, a concept that is expressed locally through the vernacular phrase: "incense is kept burning." You's research focuses on a few small villages in Hongtong County, Shanxi Province in contemporary China. Through a careful synthesis of oral interviews, participant observation, and textual analysis, You presents the important role the folk literati play in reproducing local traditions and continuing stigmatized beliefs in a community context. She demonstrates how eight folk literati have reconstructed, shifted, and negotiated local worship traditions around the ancient sage-Kings Yao and Shun as well as Ehuang and Nüying, Yao's two daughters and Shun's two wives. You highlights how these individuals' conflictive relationships have shaped and reflected different local beliefs, myths, legends, and history in the course of tradition preservation. She concludes her study by placing these local traditions in the broader context of Chinese cultural policy and UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage program, documenting how national and international discourses impact actual traditions, and the conversations about them, on the ground.


Yu, Chien, "Three Types of Chinese Deities--Stone, Tree, and Land." Doctoral dissertation, University of Lancaster, 1997. (Note: An electronic version of this dissertation is available at http://www.sinica.edu.tw/~etyue/phd/phdindex.htm)


Yü, Chün-fang, "The Cult of Kuan-yin in Ming-Ch'ing China: A Case of Confucianization of Buddhism?" In: Irene Bloom & Joshua A. Fogel [eds.], Meeting of Minds: Intellectual and Religious Interaction in East Asian Traditions of Thought. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997. Pp. 144-174.


Yü, Chün-fang, Kuan-yin: The Chinese Transformation of Avalokitesvara. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000.


Yü Chün-fang & Yao Chongxin. “Guanyin and Dizang: The Creation of a Chinese Buddhist Pantheon.” Asiatische Studien/Études asiatiques 70, no. 3 (2016): 757-796.


Yuan, Chang-rue. "Big Tree Worship among Taiwan Folk Society." 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. 119-142.


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)


Zaccarini, M. Cristina. “Daoist-inspired Healing in Daily Life: Lü Dongbin and the Multifaceted Role of Chinese Barbers. “ Journal of Daoist Studies 4 (2011): 80-103.


Zhang, Hanmo. "From Myth to History: Historicizing a Sage for the Sake of Persuasion in the Yellow Emperor Narratives." Journal of Chinese Humanities 3, no. 1 (2017): 91-116.

Abstract: Among the many depictions of the Yellow Emperor that survive in a number of early Chinese texts, the historicized image of this purported ancient sage king has been accepted by many Chinese scholars as that of a historical figure and has greatly inspired their reconstruction of China’s remote past. In examining some of the extant Huangdi narratives, especially passages preserved in the Discourses of the States [Guoyu], Records of the Grand Historian [Shiji], and Remaining Zhou Documents [Yi Zhoushu], this paper reveals a trend of historicizing an originally mythical Yellow Emperor presented in early Chinese writings. It also explores the historiographical reasoning behind such historicization and provides an alternative approach emphasizing the role of persuasion in the Huangdi narratives. (Source: journal)


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, Wenqin, "Worship of Seafarers' Patron Deities and East-West Cultural Interflow in Macao." Review of Culture (English ed. of Revista de Cultura, Macao) nos.27-28(1997): 63-78.


Zhang, Yanchao. "The Local Promotion of Mazu: The Intersection of Lineage, Textual Representation, Confucian Values, and Temples in Late Imperial China." Religions 2020, 11(3), 123; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11030123.

Abstract: This article explores the role that local elites played in the development of the Mazu cult, a local goddess cult in Putian district in late imperial China. I argue that local elites were central in the promotion and transmission of the cult. Through compiling and writing key Confucian texts featuring Mazu, they reshaped, manipulated, and represented certain aspects of her cult in accordance with their interests. As a result of the activities of local elites, Mazu became associated with the Lin lineage, an influential local lineage. In this manner, Mazu came to be seen as an expression of the lineage's authority, as well as an imperial protector embodying local loyalty to the state and a daughter who was the paradigm filial piety. In addition to the literary production, local elites, in particular the descendants from the Lin lineage, established an ancestral hall of Lin in the port of Xianliang dedicated to Mazu, further sanctioning divinely the local elites' authority and privilege in the community. I conclude that the locally promoted version of goddess worship operated at the intersection of state interests, Confucian ideology, the agency of local elites, and the dynamics of popular religiosity.


Zhang Yanchao. "Transnational Religious Tourism in Modern China and the Transformation of the Cult of Mazu." Religions 12 (2021): 221. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030221

Abstract: This article explores transformations in the worship of popular goddess Mazu as a result of (religious) tourism. In particular, it focuses on the role of transnational tourism in the invention of tradition, folklorization, and commodification of the Mazu cult. Support from the central and local governments and the impact of economic globalization have transformed a traditional pilgrimage site that initially had a local and then national scope into a transnational tourist attraction. More specifically, the ancestral temple of Mazu at Meizhou Island, which was established as the uncontested origin of Mazu's cult during the Song dynasty (960 to 1276), has been reconfigured architecturally and liturgically to function as both a sacred site and a tourist attraction. This reconfiguration has involved the reconstruction of traditional rituals and religious performances for religious tourism to promote the temple as the unadulterated expression of an intangible cultural heritage. The strategic combination of traditional rituals such as "dividing incense" and an innovative ceremony enjoining all devotees of "Mazu all over the world [to] return to mother's home" to worship her have not only consolidated the goddess as a symbol of common cultural identity in mainland China, but also for the preservation of Chinese identity in diaspora. Indeed, Chinese migrants and their descendants are among the increasing numbers of pilgrims/tourists who come to Mazu's ancestral temple seeking to reconnect with their heritage by partaking in authentic traditions. This article examines the spatial and ritual transformations that have re-signified this temple, and by extension, the cult of Mazu, as well as the media through which these transformations have spread transnationally. We will see that (transnational) religious tourism is a key medium.


Zhang, Zhenjun. "Two Modes of Goddess Depictions in Early Medieval Chinese Literature." Journal of Chinese Humanities 3, no. 1 (2017): 117-134.

Abstract: Early medieval Chinese literature depicts two modes of goddesses, derived from the two masterpieces attributed to Song Yu, “Rhapsody on the Goddess” and “Rhapsody on Gaotang.” Since Cao Zhi’s “Rhapsody on the Goddess” overshadowed other works among rhapsodies and poems, it appeared as if the influence of “Rhapsody on Gaotang” had stopped. This study reveals the two lineages of goddess depictions in medieval Chinese literature, showing that the “Goddess of Love” has never disappeared. (Source: journal)


Zhang Zong. “Comment le bodhisattva Dizang est parvenu à gouverner les Dix Rois des Enfers.” Cahiers d’Extrême-Asie 17 (2008): 265-291.


Zhao, Yuzhong. “Remaking Social boundaries: the Construction of Benzhu Worship in Southwest China.” Asian Ethnicity 17, no.3 (2016): 480-495.

Abstract: In the historical transformation of the state, benzhu worship in the Erhai lake basin, northwest Yunnan, an esoteric Buddhist practice developed in the period of Nanzhao Kingdom, has been continually reconstructed by the state and local agencies. As a result, social boundaries between the Han Chinese and the ethnic ‘others’ living in this multi-ethnic southwestern frontier of China have been constantly remade. This paper, through a review of the state’s interpretations and local agencies’ negotiations and contentions of the meaning and practice of the worship, is mainly intended to revisit the social and cultural consequences incurred by the transformation of the state, and highlight, among other things, how local agencies, average villagers in particular, have cautiously yet ingeniously exercised their agency since the 1950s by appropriating or recasting national and international discourses on ethnicity and diversity to serve their own ends. (Source: journal)


Zhiru. The Making of a Savior Bodhisattva: Dizang in Medieval China. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2007.

Abstract: In modern Chinese Buddhism, Dizang is especially popular as the sovereign of the underworld. Often represented as a monk wearing a royal crown, Dizang helps the deceased faithful navigate the complex underworld bureaucracy, avert the punitive terrors of hell, and arrive at the happy realm of rebirth. The author is concerned with the formative period of this important Buddhist deity, before his underworldly aspect eclipses his connections to other religious expressions and at a time when the art, mythology, practices, and texts of his cult were still replete with possibilities. She begins by problematizing the reigning model of Dizang, one that proposes an evolution of gradual sinicization and increasing vulgarization of a relatively unknown Indian bodhisattva, Ksitigarbha, into a Chinese deity of the underworld. Such a model, the author argues, obscures the many-faceted personality and iconography of Dizang. Rejecting it, she deploys a broad array of materials (art, epigraphy, ritual texts, scripture, and narrative literature) to recomplexify Dizang and restore (as much as possible from the fragmented historical sources) what this figure meant to Chinese Buddhists from the sixth to tenth centuries.

Rather than privilege any one genre of evidence, the author treats both material artifacts and literary works, canonical and noncanonical sources. Adopting an archaeological approach, she excavates motifs from and finds resonances across disparate genres to paint a vibrant, detailed picture of the medieval Dizang cult. Through her analysis, the cult, far from being an isolated phenomenon, is revealed as integrally woven into the entire fabric of Chinese Buddhism, functioning as a kaleidoscopic lens encompassing a multivalent religio-cultural assimilation that resists the usual bifurcation of doctrine and practice or “elite” and “popular” religion.

The Making of a Savior Bodhisattva presents a fascinating wealth of material on the personality, iconography, and lore associated with the medieval Dizang. It elucidates the complex cultural, religious, and social forces shaping the florescence of this savior cult in Tang China while simultaneously addressing several broader theoretical issues that have preoccupied the field. Zhiru not only questions the use of sinicization as a lens through which to view Chinese Buddhist history, she also brings both canonical and noncanonical literature into dialogue with a body of archaeological remains that has been ignored in the study of East Asian Buddhism. [Source: Publisher's website]