3 (1984): 391–415. A sociological approach of religious organizations. In the early twenty-first century, such societies continue to exist; after the tenth century, however, they became less numerous than other congregations—often called xianghui, or incense communities—that worshiped local saints and were housed in temples. Mulian plays are dramatic, entertaining, and highly didactic, as the travel through the hells allows the actors to dramatize their values and beliefs regarding morality and retribution. Late imperial law forbade women to visit temples (Confucian orthodoxy aspired to confining them at home), which they nonetheless did in great numbers; large-scale women-only pilgrimage associations also were formed. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list. Yet, whereas many authors have taken this bureaucratic metaphor as a way to project human society and the imperial political system onto the other world (a thesis followed by scholars who think that religion merely reflects socio-political realities without any autonomous agency), there are many differences between the human world, even in idealized form, and the way the Chinese say the other world works. Most faith communities build their own temple, or a chapel or hall within an existing temple. Rather, they are devotional associations whose leaders provide—to members and outsiders alike—services such as healing, teachings on morality, death rituals, and local leadership in village affairs. Social Compass 50, no. The classical study on popular theology.

Religious observance in China is on the rise. Finally, many congregations were oriented towards individual salvation and spiritual practice. Encyclopedia.com. This essay considers the elements of popular religion in the context of Chinese religion, and it attempts to delineate what "popular" implies by looking at the roles of clerical institutionalized religions, local lay communities, and individual specialists and devotees. Albany, N.Y., 1998. Processions also include voluntary devotional associations that perform martial art, farces, stilt walking, lion dances, and other kinds of popular shows. Journal of Asian Studies 43, no. A superb fieldwork and comprehensive description of how Daoists provide a "liturgical framework" for local cults. Popular Religion in China: The Imperial Metaphor. Princeton, N.J., 1990. Many gods are known nationwide, whereas most local saints are unheard of outside of their home county. As early as the 1898 reforms, an edict called for the seizure of all local temples to be turned into schools, and although promptly revoked, this measure was again adopted after 1901. Sacrifices are preceded by ritual purification (zhaijie ), including abstinence from alcohol, meat, sex, and unclean activities. “Since China’s economic reforms in the 1980s, there has been very rapid growth of Christianity that’s new to that part of the world, so there’s a lot of adjustment taking place,” he said. As in sacrificial traditions worldwide, the meat is first tasted by the deities, thereby sanctified, and eventually shared by the community during a banquet.

Until the twentieth century, anti-superstition campaigns, Chinese religion, and local cults in particular had never been completely banned: territorial, clan, and corporation cults were mostly recognized as orthodox, and their liturgy, notably sacrifices, was Confucian, that is, the same as that practiced by the state cults. All three traditional beliefs, at one time or another overlapped, to help shape Chinese culture and traditions.

All cults are reciprocal, contractual relations between a human community and a deity. China’s spiritual landscape has changed because of rapid economic development, urbanization and globalization, he added. Guo, Qitao. Afterlife, article on Chinese Concepts; Ancestors, article on Ancestor Worship; Divination; Domestic Observances, article on Chinese Practices; Millenarianism, article on Chinese Millenarian Movements; Soul, article on Chinese Concepts. BUDDHISM The societies financed, within or without monasteries, activities such as rituals, the making of scriptures or icons, or and mutual aid between members. Meanwhile, during the second century bce, Daoism gradually organized into communities and a distinctive liturgy, and Buddhism began to flow into China from Central Asia.

Ghosts and demons are those who have suffered a bad death (early death, suicide, dismemberment, and other unnatural circumstances—the demonology is very rich) and who could not be ritually installed as ancestors. “But that is not the case in many places in China, not anymore,” said Fengang Yang, author of the book “Atlas of Religion in China: Social and Geographical Contexts.” During the 1990s, researchers led important efforts to collect and publish written material found in the context of local cults; these studies have greatly expanded knowledge of the field, notably the Taiwanese-led projects around the journal Minsu quyi and related collections.