Ritual and Mythology of the Chinese Triads: Creating an Identity

Ritual and Mythology of the Chinese Triads: Creating an Identity

Ritual and Mythology of the Chinese Triads: Creating an Identity

Ritual and Mythology of the Chinese Triads: Creating an Identity

Synopsis

The extensive ritual and mythological lore of the Chinese Triads form the scope of this new paperback title in Brill's Scholars List. The author critically evaluates the extant sources and offers a wealth of contextual information. The core of the book is formed by a close reading of the initiation ritual, including the burning of incense, the altar, the enactment of a journey of life and death, and the blood covenant. Different narrative structures are also presented. These include the messianic demonological paradigm, political legitimation, and the foundation of myth. Triad lore is placed in its own religious and cultural context, allowing radically new conclusions about its origins, meanings and functions. This book is of special interest to social historians, anthropologists, and students of Chinese religious culture.

Excerpt

The original stimulus to study Triad ritual and mythology came from my last minute participation in a panel on the Triads at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Asian Studies in New Orleans in April 1991. the other members of this panel were David Ownby, Dian Murray, Mary Heidhues-Somers and Jean DeBernardi, and I have greatly profited from my discussions with them both in New Orleans and at other later meetings. Since then, I have worked intermittently on the present book, in addition to working on other projects which will also be be submitted for publication in the near future. Most of the research for, and writing of, this book was carried out between February 1991 until the end of January 1994, as a Research Fellow of the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences and working at the Sinological Institute of Leiden University, the Netherlands. the final version of this book was completed at the Sinologisches Seminar of Heidelberg University, Germany, during the second half of 1996, with some final additions in late March 1997 (mainly contained in the appendix to Chapter Nine) in order to take into account three recent Chinese publications with new interpretations and potentially important new sources.

The Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences has funded my frequent research trips abroad in a most generous manner. These included two months of very intense fieldwork (spread over three visits in the summer of 1992 and early 1993) in Southern China (Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Xiamen and Quanzhou regions in Southern Fujian). During these trips, I was able to attend scores of rituals and festivals, in order to build up a better feeling for, and comprehension of, the local religious and cultural context in which Triad lore once operated. Back in the Netherlands, I had the good fortune to witness various rituals performed by Overseas Chinese from the Cantonese cultural region. in the summer of 1991 I had the opportunity to share, for almost two months, in some of the daily life and ritual activities of the priests of two Buddhist temples in Tôkyô (including my former teacher at Kyûshû University, Professor Kawakatsu Mamoru). I wish to thank them . . .

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