Daoist Priests of the Li Family: Ritual Life in Village China

Daoist Priests of the Li Family: Ritual Life in Village China

by Stephen Jones


Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Thursday, August 22


Along with Jones' moving film Li Manshan: Portrait of a Folk Daoist, this engaging and original book describes a hereditary family of household Daoist priests in rural north China. It traces the vicissitudes of their lives-and ritual practices-over the turbulent last century through the experiences of two main characters: Li Manshan (b.1946) and his distinguished father Li Qing (1926-99). The story anchors changing ritual practice in the ethnography of ritual specialists and their patrons as they negotiate new challenges, giving a unique flavor of rural life in China today. A vivid portrait of a rapidly changing society, the work will fascinate anthropologists, scholars of Daoism and folk religion, world-music aficionados, and all those interested in Chinese society.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781931483346
Publisher: Three Pines Press
Publication date: 01/31/2017
Pages: 410
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Stephen Jones has been documenting local Chinese ritual traditions since 1986, going on to hold research posts at SOAS while working as a violinist in London early music ensembles. He is also author of Folk Music of China, Plucking the Winds, Ritual and Music of North China (2 vols, with DVDs), and In Search of the Folk Daoists of North China.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations v

Technical Terms vii

Acknowledgments viii

Preface 1

Introduction: Setting the Scene 9

Overview of Ritual Practice 25

Part 1 From Empire to Republic

1 Li Qing's Early life: 1926-1937 37

Ritual 1 Delivering the Scriptures 52

2 Occupation and Warfare: The 1940s 57

Ritual 2 Fetching Water 67

3 The Hall of Auspicious Virtue 69

Ritual 3 Hoisting the Pennant, and judgment and Alms 85

Part 2 The Decades of Maoism

4 Liberation: the Early Years, 1948-1957 93

Ritual 4 The Invitation, and Redeeming the Treasuries 109

5 Years of Trauma: 1958-1964 113

Ritual 5 Transferring Offerings 126

6 Silence Descends: 1964-1978 129

Ritual 6 The Burial 136

Part 3 The Reform Era

7 Another Liberation: The 1980s' Revival 141

8 Recopying the Manuals 156

9 End of an Era: The 1990s 171

Ritual 7 Solo Activities of the Daoist 185

Part 4 Ritual Manuals and Texts

10 Mind the Gap: Matching Manuals to Ritual Performance 203

11 The Ancestry of Tests 215

12 Thanking the Earth, and Temple Fairs 229

13 Rare or Obsolete Funerary Rituals 244

Part 5 The Sound of Ritual

Introduction 255

14 The Vocal liturgy 256

15 The Percussion 279

16 The Shengguan Melodic Instrumental Music 290

Ritual 8 The Invitation Revisited 298

Part 6 Looking to the Future

17 Negotiating the 21st Century 309

18 Marching Towards the World 329

19 A Chronicle of Decline 343


Things Ain't What They Used To Be 357


1 Ethnography, Performance, and History in Daoist Ritual Studies 363

2 Ritual Manuals of the Li. Family 375

3 The Chanted Scriptures 379

Bibliography 383

Glossary-Index 391

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews