chinese shamanism


  • [4] Various ritual traditions are rooted in original Chinese shamanism: contemporary Chinese ritual masters are sometimes identified as wu by outsiders,[5] though most orders
    don’t self-identify as such.

  • Also Taoism has some of its origins from Chinese shamanism:[1][6] it developed around the pursuit of long life (shou ), or the status of a xian (, “mountain man”, “holy man”).

  • Mair connects the nearly identical Chinese Bronze script for wu and Western heraldic cross potent , an ancient symbol of a magus or magician Early history The Chinese religion
    from the Shang dynasty onwards developed around ancestral worship.

  • [1] Meaning of wu The Chinese word wu “shaman, wizard”, indicating a person who can mediate with the powers generating things (the etymological meaning of “spirit”, “god”,
    or nomen agentis, virtus, energeia), was first recorded during the Shang dynasty (ca.

  • [1] The Shang period had two methods to enter in contact with divine ancestors: the first is the numinous-mystical wu practice, involving dances and trances; and the second
    is the method of the oracle bones, a rational way.

  • [9] Northeast shamanism Shamanism is practiced in Northeast China and is considered different from those of central and southern Chinese folk religion, as it resulted from
    the interaction of Han religion with folk religion practices of other Tungusic people such as Manchu shamanism.

  • Schuessler lists some etymologies: wu could be cognate with wu “to dance”; wu could also be cognate with mu “mother” since wu, as opposed to xi , were typically female; wu
    could be a loanword from Iranian *maghu or *maguš “magi; magician”, meaning an “able one; specialist in ritual”.

  • [10] Along with the focus on science, modern medicine, and material culture in China (which created serious doubt in spiritual practices), shamanism is viewed as an opposition
    to the modern focus of science and medicine in the pursuit of modernizing.

  • [10] While spirit mediums have begun reappearing (mostly in rural China) since the 1980s,[10] they operate with a low profile, often working from their homes, relying on word
    of mouth to generate business, or in newly built temples under a Taoist Association membership card to be legitimate under the law.

  • [1] The main gods from this period are not forces of nature in the Sumerian way, but deified virtuous men.

  • Hong Taiji (1592–1643) put shamanistic practices in the service of the state, notably by forbidding others to erect new shrines (tangse) for ritual purposes.

  • In the Beijing tangse and in the women’s quarters of the Forbidden City, Qing emperors and professional shamans (usually women) conducted shamanic ceremonies until the abdication
    of the dynasty in 1912.

  • [10] The term shamanism and the religion itself has been critiqued by Western scholars due to an unfair and limited comparison to more favored religions such as Christianity
    and other modern and more documented religions in Western society.

  • Taiwan (although Taiwan tried to ban Shamanism, in the end only restricting it) still have many who openly practice without the stigma seen in other parts of China.

  • The shaman would perform various ritual functions for groups of believers and local communities, such as moon drum dance and chūmǎxiān (“riding for the immortals”).

  • [10] The marginalization of shamanism is one of the reasons for it mostly being practiced in rural or less developed areas or in small towns, along with the lack of enforcement
    of anti-shamanism policies among authorities in rural areas (either because they believe in Shamanism themselves or “look the other way in concession to local beliefs”).

  • In 1644, as soon as the Qing seized Beijing to begin their conquest of China, they named it their new capital and erected an official shamanic shrine there.

  • [10] This was furthered in the 19th century with the arrival of Western imperialism’s view of shamanism as superstition,[10] opposing their view of science and western religion.


Works Cited

[‘1. Libbrecht 2007, p. 43.
2. ^ Eichhorn 1973, pp. 55–70.
3. ^ Nelson et al. 2006.
4. ^ Zhang & Hriskos 2003.
5. ^ Nadeau 2012, p. 140.
6. ^ Waldau & Patton 2009, p. 280.
7. ^ di Cosmo 1999, p. 355, note 5 (Manchu text printed in 1778,
Chinese text completed in 1782).
8. ^ Rawski 1998, p. 240 (Chinese text completed in 1780).
9. ^ Rawski 1998, p. 298.
10. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g Yang 2015.
11. ^ DuBois 2011.
12. ^ Xing & Murray 2018.
2. di Cosmo, Nicola (1999). “Manchu
shamanic ceremonies at the Qing court”. In McDermott, Joseph P. (ed.). State and Court Ritual in China. Cambridge University Press. pp. 352–398. ISBN 978-0-521-62157-1.
3. DuBois, Thomas A. (2011). “Trends in Contemporary Research on Shamanism”.
Numen. 58 (1): 100–128. doi:10.1163/156852710X514339-2. JSTOR 23045924.
4. Michael, Thomas (2015). “Shamanism Theory and the Early Chinese ‘Wu'”. Journal of the American Academy of Religion. 83 (3): 649–696. doi:10.1093/jaarel/lfv034. JSTOR 24488180.
5. Eichhorn,
Werner (1973). Die Religionen Chinas. Die Religionen der Menschheit. W. Kohlhammer. ISBN 978-3-17-216031-4.
6. Libbrecht, Ulrich (2007). Within the Four Seas–: Introduction to Comparative Philosophy. Peeters Publishers. ISBN 978-90-429-1812-2.
7. Nelson,
Sarah M.; Matson, Rachel A.; Roberts, Rachel M.; Rock, Chris; Stencel, Robert E. (2006). Archaeoastronomical Evidence for Wuism at the Hongshan Site of Niuheliang. S2CID 6794721.
8. Nadeau, Randall L., ed. (2012). The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to
Chinese Religions. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-4051-9031-2.
9. Rawski, Evelyn S. (1998). The Last Emperors: A Social History of Qing Imperial Institutions. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-92679-0.
10. Waldau, Paul; Patton, Kimberley,
eds. (2009). A Communion of Subjects: Animals in Religion, Science, and Ethics. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-13643-3.
11. Waley, Arthur (1955). The Nine Songs: a Study of Shamanism in Ancient China. London.
12. Xing, Haiyan; Murray,
Gerald (3 December 2018). “The Evolution of Chinese Shamanism: A Case Study from Northwest China”. Religions. 9 (12): 397. doi:10.3390/rel9120397.
13. Yang, Mayfair (6 May 2015). “Shamanism and Spirit Possession in Chinese Modernity: Some Preliminary
Reflections on a Gendered Religiosity of the Body”. Review of Religion and Chinese Society. 2 (1): 51–86. doi:10.1163/22143955-00201001.
14. Zhang, Hong; Hriskos, Constantine (June 2003). “Contemporary Chinese Shamanism:The Reinvention of Tradition”.
Cultural Survival Quarterly Magazine. 27 (2).
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