A Research on Shijiao---The Ritual Traditions of Fashi in South China

Submitted by James Miller on Wed, 05/14/2014 - 16:38
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TitleA Research on Shijiao---The Ritual Traditions of Fashi in South China
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsHuang, J.
Corporate AuthorsLagerwey, John Lun, Tam Wai
Academic DepartmentProQuest Dissertations and Theses
Date Published2013
PublisherThe Chinese University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong)
Place PublishedAnn Arbor
ISBN Number9781303681530
Keywords0320:Religious history, 0342:Asian Studies, Asian Studies, Buddhism, Daoism, Fashi, Philosophy, religion and theology, Religious history, Shijiao, SOCIAL sciences

Shijiao refers to all kinds of fashi rituals that focus on exorcism, and the whole set of religious culture related to them, including deities, ritual altars, temples, ritual theatres, customs, ritual implements and tales of deities and fashi, etc. As one of the most popular religion in South China, it is a historical product of confrontations between the three "higher" national religions and Shamanism (medium-based). Admittedly, it is not a "unified and organized religion". Its history is different in every locality, and its rituals are diversified in different regions. To put it another way, they are local religious traditions rather than being a national tradition. However, these ritual traditions are not only interlinked but they also share so many commonalities in their modes of expression and systematization that they should be regarded as one system/tradition rather than as "a loose rope of sand" for the purpose of research. Thus, the main aim of this thesis will be the "constructed category" of Shijiao: What is it? What is its common ground? Through a comprehensive comparative study of local Fashi ritual traditions in South China, this dissertation has explored its main ritual characteristics, extracted its ritual structure, constructed its developmental stages, and show not only how it is different from the Sanjiao [special characters omitted], but more importantly, how it differentiates from Shamanism (Wu). Once properly described, I believe the usefulness of "Shijiao" as an analytic term will become clear. Only after that, could we productively discuss some larger theoretical questions.