Handbook on Religion in China
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Handbook on Religion in China

Edited by Stephan Feuchtwang

Informative and eye-opening, the Handbook on Religion in China provides a uniquely broad insight into the contemporary Chinese variations of Buddhism, Islam and Christianity. In turn, China's own religions and transmissions of rites and systems of divination have spread beyond China, a progression that is explored in detail across 19 chapters, written by leading experts in the field.
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Chapter 10: Household ritual specialists

Stephen Jones


Ritual specialists performing liturgies in temples, festivals and households are now mainly Daoist, but some are Buddhist, and both perform similar liturgies for death rituals. Most are based at their home altars, very few in local temples; a major change due to the destruction of temples in campaigns against old customs and superstitions, now abated. The specialists offer calendrical and geomantic selection, as well as forming groups for liturgy that includes both percussive, sung and instrumental performance and scriptural recital. This chapter gives detailed examples of performances by means of case studies of the services provided by a family of Daoists and by an amateur ritual association, both northern Chinese examples of revival by the teaching of practitioners from the 1950s. Migration, consumerist, pop musical tastes and urbanization among the clients of the experts have demanded diluted, simplified and more ostentatious versions of their rituals.

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