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Mainstream culture has traditionally ignored ordinary Chinese farmers, viewing them as simple, ignorant, and incapable of performing complex cultural activities. The rural festivals displayed by Johnson, however, illustrate a totally contrary picture. The rituals and operas of the temple festivals reveal the rich spiritual and religious activities and achievements of local communities, and the villagers' performances demonstrate their dazzling artistic capability and creativity. Supported by plentiful oral and written materials, Johnson utilizes this long-ignored local knowledge to discover and reveal the scope, depth, variations, and complexity of the local reality. This classic anthropological study of local communities should be a precious addition to the study of traditional Chinese society.
— A. Y. Lee