In Search of Personal Welfare: A View of Ancient Chinese Religion

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The first major reassessment of ancient Chinese religion to appear in recent years, this book presents the religious mentality of the period through personal and daily experiences.
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Editorial Reviews

Details the religion of everyday life in ancient China, investigating broadly shared religious beliefs and goals from the earliest period to the end of the Han dynasty. Draws on recently acquired archaeological data, traditional texts, and modern scholarly work from China, Japan, and the West to understand the religious mentality of the ancient Chinese in terms of personal and daily experiences. Deals with aspects including personal welfare in the context of mantric technique, the development of official cults, concepts of immortality and soul, and the use of elite documents in the study of ordinary life. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780791436301
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/1998
  • Series: Series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.93 (w) x 8.91 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Figures



1. Introduction

Toward a History of the Everyday, Personal Religion of Ancient China

Religion and Extra-human Powers: Working Definitions

The Popular-Religion Paradigm in Earlier Research and Theory

The Sources

2. Roots of a Religion of Personal Welfare


The Religion of the Shang People

The Religion of the Chou People

3. Personal Welfare in the Context of Mantic Technique



Witchcraft and Exorcism

Ghosts and Spirits

Souls, Spirits, and the Abode of the Dead


4. Newly Discovered Daybooks and Everyday Religion

The Jih-shu or Daybooks

Elements of Religion in the Classic of Mountains and Seas

Jih-shu and Shan-hai-ching: Dealing with Domestic and Foreign Environments

5. Emperors, Courtiers, and the Development of Official Cults

The Establishment of the Official Cult of the Ch'in Empire

The Establishment of the Han Official Cult

Personal Factors and Official Religion

Reassessing Han Official Religion


6. Beliefs and Practices in Everyday Life of the Han Dynasty

Religious Activities Related to the Agricultural Cycle

Religious Activities Related to the Life Cycle

Religious Activities in Everyday Life

Local Cults

Omens and Portents

7. Immortality, Soul, and the Netherworld

The Conceptions of Immortality and Soul

Further Development of the Idea of the Netherworld

Social Change, the Development of Burial Styles, and the Idea of the Netherworld

8. Popular Religiosity and Its Critics

Literacy and the Commoners

Intellectuals as Critics of Popular Religion and Local Cults

Intellectuals as Reformers of Popular Religion

Intellectuals as Participants in Popular Religion

9. Conclusion

The Nature of Extra-Human Powers

Belief in a Correlative Cosmological Order

Death and the Netherworld


Piety and Happiness





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