Daoism Handbook

Daoism Handbook

Daoism Handbook

Daoism Handbook

Synopsis

Thirty major scholars in the field wrote this new, authoritative guide to the main features and development of Daoism. The chapters are devoted to either specific periods, or topics such as Women in Daoism, Daoism in Korea and Daoist Ritual Music. Each chapter rigidly deals with a fixed set of aspects, such as history, texts, worldview and practices. Clear markings in the chapters themselves and a detailed index make this volume the most accessible key resource on Daoism past and present.

Excerpt

This book is part of the Handbook of Oriental Studies (Section 4, China), issued by Brill Academic Publishers. It was first conceived in 1996, when the publisher approached me with the suggestion of compiling a volume on Daoism. Rather than a dictionary or alphabetical encyclopedia, I then decided with the advice and suggestions of many colleagues to develop a work that consisted of integrated articles. This proved fortuitous, since almost simultaneously with this volume two other major reference works on the religion will appear, the A Study of Taoist Literature in the Daozang of the Ming Dynasty edited by K. M. Schipper and F. Verellen (University of Chicago Press) and the Encyclopedia of Taoism edited by F. Pregadio (London: Curzon Press). The first focuses on texts and is based fully on the Daoist canon, while the second consists of over 800 separate entries on specific terms, figures, texts, places, ideas and practices of the religion. The three reference works, including this volume, present comprehensive information on the Daoist religion and will contribute to a better understanding of it and to the progress of Daoist studies.

The specific task of the Daoism Handbook in this triad is to present information in context, allowing readers to gain insight into the structure and organization of the religion from an integrated perspective. The twenty-eight papers each treat one specific topic as exhaustively and analytically as is possible at the present stage of research. About half are focused on a given historical period or school, the other half present materials on a specific topic, such as alchemy, immortality, women and art.

To make the information more easily accessible, each contribution follows a set pattern of four parts—history, texts, worldview and practices—with specific figures, texts, practices and other major themes highlighted for quick reference. The scheme was developed to enable the reader to find particular clusters of information as painlessly as possible. For example, while there is no specific contribution on cosmology or the pantheon, the “worldview” section in each paper, especially in those discussing specific schools, contains the relevant information. Similarly, materials on texts from different areas and on various topics can be found quickly. Despite these advantages, the scheme does have two drawbacks. First, it necessitates . . .

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