Synopses & Reviews
Unruly Gods: Divinity and Society in China is the first study in English to offer a systematic introduction to the Chinese pantheon of divinities. Until now, Chinese deities have often been presented as mere functionaries and bureaucrats. The essays in this volume eloquently document the existence of other images that allowed Chinese gods to challenge the prevailing power structures and traditional mores of Chinese society. Here are deities who kill their parents, who refuse to marry, who depose their predecessors, who demand cigarettes instead of incense - in short, who challenge all preconceptions about Chinese divinity. The authors draw on a variety of disciplines (history, anthropology, literary studies) and methodologies to throw light on various aspects of the Chinese supernatural. In addition to reflecting the existing order, Chinese gods shaped it, transformed it, and compensated for it, and, as such, this study offers fresh perspectives on the relations between divinity and society in China.
Table of Contents
Introduction : gods and society in China / Meir Shahar and Robert P. Weller -- Personal relations and bureaucratic hierarchy in Chinese religion : evidence from the Song dynasty / Robert Hymes -- Enlightened alchemist or immoral immortal? The growth of Lèu Dongbin's cult in late imperial China / Paul R. Katz -- The Lady Linshui : how a woman became a goddess / Brigitte Baptandier -- Myths, gods, and family relations / P. Steven Sangren -- Vernacular fiction and the transmission of gods' cults in late Imperial China / Meir Shahar -- Transmission in popular religion : the Jiajiang festival troupe of Southern Taiwan / Donald S. Sutton -- Matricidal magistrates and gambling gods : weak states and strong spirits in China / Robert P. Weller.