The Sinister Way: The Divine and the Demonic in Chinese Religious Culture

The Sinister Way: The Divine and the Demonic in Chinese Religious Culture

The Sinister Way: The Divine and the Demonic in Chinese Religious Culture

The Sinister Way: The Divine and the Demonic in Chinese Religious Culture

Synopsis

"A fascinating story of the origins and development of the Wutong cult and the demonic in Chinese religion. From the Shang Dynasty down to late imperial times, Von Glahn lays before us an engaging wealth of knowledge and never-before presented data."--Stephen R. Bokenkamp, Indiana University, author of "Early Daoist Scriptures

"No other writer has explored the place of the sinister in Chinese religion in such a thoughtful and nuanced way. An excellent, gracefully written study covering major themes of the Song through Ming periods."--Patricia Ebrey, author of "The Inner Quarters: Marriage and the Lives of Chinese Women in the Sung Period

Excerpt

This book at heart is a study of stories told and retold; thus it is fitting that it begins with a story. The following anecdote was published in 1194 by the prolific chronicler of the strange and miraculous, Hong Mai, in the eleventh installment of his Tales of the Listener. Hong informed his readers that the story was passed on to him by Zhu Conglong, an otherwise unknown figure who apparently was a refugee from the Jin kingdom then ruling north China. The story is undated, but the rest of the anecdotes attributed by Hong to Zhu date from the 1140s and 1150s, and this one probably does as well.

Liu Xiang, a shopkeeper, had the good fortune of marrying a beautiful wife née Zheng, but his business fared poorly. Wretched and haggard, the disheartened Liu would spend his days drinking with rather unsavory companions in the tavern. Zheng, abandoned to suffer hunger and privation alone, bitterly resented her husband's absence. One day Zheng contracted a feverish illness. After a few days she recovered somewhat, but she withdrew to her bedchamber, where she would sit and stare without uttering a word. Whenever her husband approached, Zheng scowled and sneered at him. Liu, more despondent than ever, left home altogether. His wife sealed herself in the house, admitting no visitors, yet it often seemed as if she were whispering with some invisible guest. Family members spied on her through a crack in the wall, but they never saw anyone.

Some time passed, and Liu Xiang eventually returned home. Upon entering his house he was amazed to discover that it was filled with gold . . .

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