China

China ❴PDF❵ ✪ China Author John Lagerwey – Bluevapours.co.uk Over the last forty years, our vision of Chinese culture and history has been transformed by the discovery of the role of religion in Chinese statemaking and in local society The Daoist religion, in p Over the last forty years, our vision of Chinese culture and history has been transformed by the discovery of the role of religion in Chinese statemaking and in local society The Daoist religion, in particular, long despised as “superstitious”, has recovered its place as “the native higher religion” But while the Chinese state tried from the fifth century on to construct an orthodoxy based on Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism, local society everywhere carved out for itself its own geomantically defined space and organized itself around local festivals in honor of gods of its own choosing—gods who were often invented and then represented by illiterate mediums Looking at China from the point of view of elite or popular culture therefore produces very different results John Lagerwey has done extensive fieldwork on local society and its festivals This book represents a first attempt to use this new research to integrate topdown and bottomup views of Chinese society, culture, and history It should be of interest to a wide range of China specialists, students of religion and popular culture, as well as participants in the ongoing interdisciplinary dialogue between historians and anthropologists.

Currently at the Centre for East Asian Studies; The Chinese University of Hong Kong; Shatin , NT, Hong Kong Education: Diploma of Habilitation for the direction of doctoral theses, University of Paris VII Jussieu; Post doctoral study of Taoism under professors Max Kaltenmark and Kristofer Schipper, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes Paris Sorbonne; PhD Chinese Literature,.

China  PDF ✓ Paperback
    China PDF ✓ Paperback for itself its own geomantically defined space and organized itself around local festivals in honor of gods of its own choosing—gods who were often invented and then represented by illiterate mediums Looking at China from the point of view of elite or popular culture therefore produces very different results John Lagerwey has done extensive fieldwork on local society and its festivals This book represents a first attempt to use this new research to integrate topdown and bottomup views of Chinese society, culture, and history It should be of interest to a wide range of China specialists, students of religion and popular culture, as well as participants in the ongoing interdisciplinary dialogue between historians and anthropologists."/>
  • Paperback
  • 246 pages
  • China
  • John Lagerwey
  • English
  • 09 July 2017
  • 9789888028047

10 thoughts on “China

  1. J says:

    In a word, astounding.

    In meticulous detail, and with a frightening grasp of arcane rituals in ancient texts and modern practice, Lagerway demonstrates how China was Daoist not Confucian. The mysterious powers of order and chaos, gods and ghosts, historical and mythical imagination, ritual activity and ritual architecture and ritual expenditure, local festivals and imperial patronage... the whole whack, assimilating, taming and incorporating all manner of Buddhist ideas (when the anti-Buddhist campaigns of chapel and shrine destruction, forcible laicisation of monks and nuns and book-burnings that kicked off in 445, 714 and 840 proved unsustainable or undesirable), building on, critiquing and supplanting countless local shamans, exorcists and witches across the land (as far as was possible, over millennia, often with the violent suppressive collusion of government), and the ongoing invention, re-invention and embrace of Daoist revelations old and new and the canonization and embrace of many semi-divine figures into the pantheon....

    All of this vastly overshadowed the cult of the ancestors (forbidden to the common people according to the Book of Rites, and not opened up to them until almost two thousand years had passed) and the rationalism of the Confucian elite. Why has everyone been so mistaken about this for so long? Well, the neo-Confucians of the Song dynasty finally began to get their way in the Ming dynasty with the help of foreign friends... When the Jesuits arrived on the Chinese scene with their own Thomist baggage, they were not arriving and on virgin territory but in a space where the time of the neo-Confucian orthodoxy had come. The Chinese elite had not yet driven all gods from the space we call China -- for that they would have to wait for their twentieth century descendants, the Nationalists and then the Communists -- but they were making good progress. To make a long story short, Thomist rationalism encountered neo-Confucian rationalism and found every reason to make a deal for their respective agendas... (p.4) Thus European observers constructng one sort of modernity and painting one sort of China were pleased to find such sensible civil fellows as these nonreligious Confucians (the teeming, multitudinous realities of the Daoist-Buddhist-popular synthesis could be dismissed as 'superstition', and even the blood sacrifices of state religious Confucianism could be overlooked) who were shoring up their own nominalist and elitist image of ritual China and their grip on central power.

    This is not to say that Confucianism was not important, but that alongside the lineage village conception was a Daoist territorial village conception (expressed and re-expressed over centuries in all manner of rituals, temples, geomancy and imaginative literature), and this extended right up to empire level. Continent of the gods (神州) is an ancient name for China that owes nothing to Confucius, and everything to the authorising power of a ruler over gods in relation to space and supernatural fears and hopes.

    There is so much more to say about this insanely brilliant book, not least in the graciousness of its author who frequently notes how recent works have corrected or greatly improved his own earlier seminal contributions to the field. Might return to some of the gems later...

  2. Anders says:

    Chinese religion is a baffling and endlessly complicated subject to study and record, let alone to interpret. In this short volume, however, John Lagerwey has managed to convincingly make sense of the bewildering morass of Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism, folk religion, etc. that was the everyday belief system of most Chinese until very recently.
    The book consists of two sections of equal length that differ greatly in content. In the first half, the author traces the development of the pantheon and worldview, from the Shang dynasty to the 20th century, that would become the raw material of popular religious practice. The fruitful competition between Buddhism and Daoism from the Han onward, which led to each becoming increasingly institutional and text-heavy as it cemented its hold on the population, is especially well described.
    Traditional China is best seen, he argues, as a continent of spirits (神州) tied together by harmonizing social orders, from the emperor through local society down to the self-cultivating individual. It was organized as a China of Confucian time and history, and Daoist space and cosmos.
    The second half is a meticulous - for some, perhaps overly so - account of dozens out of the hundreds of south Chinese villages that Lagerwey has studied in Jiangxi, Fujian and Guangdong provinces. His conclusion, though, is brilliant: Using the same notes of gods, rituals and festivals, each village all over China composes its own religious jazz that is emphatically local, creative and vibrant, while being animated by the same civilizational values.
    With consumerism and nationalism having so thoroughly supplanted traditional beliefs, one might ask, why does any of this matter? Lagerwey is in no doubt: these traditonal practices, and the beliefs in justice and happiness they embodied, were the very stuff of Chinese society. As he puts it:

    to refuse to understand the Chinese symbolic system is to refuse to understand China. For Westerners that is merely unfortunate, but for the Chinese it is tragic. It led throughout the twentieth century to round upon round of self-destruction and to wild swings from excessive self-deprecation to exaggerated self-valuation. It has meant a virtually constitutive incapacity to come to terms with the Chinese past or to create a society whose democracy and science are rooted in Chinese values and patterns.

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