The People and the Dao, II



The Xi-lai An Incident in Colonial Tai-wan

Paul R. Katz


p. 265 impending apocalypse in 1915-6 : caelestial soldiers & membership-amulets

"All agreed that horrific calamities would occur during the seventh lunar month ... a black poisonous rain lasting seven days and seven nights. ... Those who joined Yu: Ch>ing-fang’s or Lo Chu:n’s groups were promised rescue by celestial soldiers (tianbing) ... . ... Those who wished to survive the apocalypse were supposed to purchase an amulet (fu). Such amulets were ... considered as receipts proving one’s membership in the movement."

p. 266 rumors about a miraculous saviour

"individual joined after having heard rumours of the birth of a messianic saviour who would rule as emperor ... named Zhu Litao, a probable variation on the names of the messianic figures Zhu Jiutao and Li Jiutao. ... accounts indicate that this imperial saviour was accompanied by an immortal (xianren), who possessed the ability to make himself invisible or take flight at will ... . ... the imperial saviour ... possessed ...

"ears reaching to his shoulders,

{This is likewise true of both Lao-zi and the Buddha.}

and arms extending below (to) his knees"."

{This is likewise true of the Buddha.}

pp. 267-8 empowerment of amulets

p. 267

"Almost all individuals who joined the movement purchased or were given amulets. ... . ... those who wore amulets could not be harmed by bullets or

p. 268

swords ..., a claim similar to that made by the Boxers. ... their amulets could ... stupefy their enemies. During rituals to empower amulets (referred to as fufa), which ... doubled as initiation rites, new members ... invoked the names of popular deities like the Jade Emperor (Yuhuang Dadi) ... . ... they also drank "charmed water" (fushui) or "divine water" (shenshui)".

pp. 273-4 revels; female ritualists; bottle-worship

p. 273

"Penis Mountain (Yinjing shan), which many identify due to its phallus-like peak ... and a nearby site known as "Vagina Mountain" (Yinmen shan) are said to have been sites for evening revels involving the area’s young men and women. ...

p. 274

Plains Aborigine elders from the Chia-hsien area can still remember an event known as "Ladies’ Night" (tsabo me in Southern Min), which fell on the date of the Lantern Festival (Yuanxiao jie, the 15th day of the 1st lunar month). During the early morning hours. local women would first journey back to Yu:-ching to worship the fertility goddess Zhusheng niangniang, and after returning home that evening would ... sport with men they felt were attractive. Such "sporting" included ... telling dirty jokes about their prowess, and even fondling them or pulling down their pants.

Local men were able to take their revenge the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival (Zhongqiu jie, the 15th day of the 8th lunar month) ... .


During the Qing dynasty, Han Chinese outsiders were said to fear the powers of female Aboriginal ritual specialists, who like their counterparts in medieval south China were said to be able to cast spells call zuoxiang or fangxiang upon men who attracted them ... .

Aboriginal religion survives today, including the worship of bottles and jars (sihu) in small shrines known as gongxie."

p. 279 Min-dynasty banner-worship

The founder of the Min dynasty "traced their origins to the worship of a "tooth banner" (yaqi; alleged to contain the tooth of a yellow dragon) during the reigns of the Yellow Emperor and Han Wudi."



The White Dragon Hermitage & the 8-Generals Possession-Troupe

Wan C^ien-c^>uan (transl. by Philip Clart)


p. 291, fn. 20 the Great Emperors of the 5 Blessings & their retinue







title (__-lin Gon)






tabu name






birthday (mo./d.)












robe’s color






hall’s name (Fu-__ Tan)






generals’ hall-name (Ru-__ Tan)

-yi Zen-s^ou

-s^an Fan-si

-lian Yin-xin

-s^un Xie-xin

-xin Xi-xian

# of generals






pp. 294-5 painted-faced Generals

p. 294, fn. 29 "There are those with painted faces, called the Eight or Ten Generals, whose function it is to rid the district of pestilences."

{cf. the variegated-faced Mixtec deities of Codex Vindobonensis Mexicanus?}

p. 295, fn. 33 "The Six Generals are exorcists who paint their faces in many colours and adorn their temples with horns. ... Each acts in the character of the spirit he impersonates and they wear old-style robes."



Rituals and Beliefs of ... Cantonese Opera

Tuen Wai Mary Yeung


pp. 308-10 legends of operatic deities

p. 308

"When Yuhuang Dadi saw that ... opera players performed Yuhuang dengdian (The Jade Emperor ascends the hall), he ... sent Huaguang, his adopted son, to the mortal world to ... the stage of the performers ... . Huaguang descended to the secular world and enjoyed watching the opera. As a result, he showed himself on a costume trunk and ... taught the performers ... . ... Up in the Celestial Palace, Yuhuang sent Qianli Yan (Thousand-li Eye) and Shunfeng Er (Favourable-wind ear) to investigate ... Huaguang ... . These two deities ... reported to Yuhuang Dadi that Huaguang had already carried out his mission."

p. 309

"Regarding the legend of Tiandou Ershi (The Two Masters of Field and Hollow) ... : Their birthday is on the twenty-fourth of the third month. According to legend, one day ... two small children came out from a hole in the midst of the field and fought a whole day with each other and then disappeared. The performers ... addressed them as Tiandou Ershi because they had come out of a hole in a field."

p. 310

[quoted from the epitaph of the Tan-gon temple at Won Nai C^un Gap] "Xianshen Tangong {with the name /TAN-GoN/ cf. the Korean /TAN-GuN/} (Holy Immortal-Lord Tan) is a patron deity of fishermen. His native place was Huizhou. He lost his parents in early boyhood [and] relied on his grandmother for nurture. In his childhood, he could foretell the future and cure illness in marvelous ways. ... He ... often manifested miracles by sending down sweet dew and calming storms." [fn. 31 : "In order to obtain immortality he practiced the Way at Jiulong Shan (The Nine Dragon Mountain) in Huizhou."]

p. 317 examples of plots of operas

p. 317, fn. 59

[Xian-hua S^an Da He-s^ou] "Guanyin ... obtains the Way at the Purple Bamboo Grove (Zizhu Lin). All immortals, such as the Eight Immortals, the Four Dragon Kings, the Three Holy Mothers, Liu Haixian, the Dragon Subduing Celestial General, the Tiger Taming Celestial General and Wei Tuo, go to Zizhu Lin to offer their congratulations."

p. 317, fn. 60

[Tian-ji Da Son-zi] "Dong Yong ... When his father passed away, ... did not have enough money to offer him a proper burial. Thus, he sold himself as a bondman for three years. Moved by Dong Yong’s filial affection, the Jade emperor ordered the Celestial Maid to descend to the mundane world and marry Dong Yong. In order to pay his debt, the Celestial Maid wove three hundred rolls of silk within a hundred days. As a result, Dong Yong was set free. ... the Celestial Maid left the secular world and returned to the heavenly palace. Soon afterwards, she gave birth to a son. Dong Yong ... passed under the shade of the locust tree where he met the Celestial Maid who offered him his son."

p. 320 rice-ladle in funerals for operatic troupe-members

"When a troupe member died, he would put the troupe’s rice ladle on the floor. Troupe members threw their donations ... into the ladle. ... their donations were only enough to buy a poor coffin to bury their deceased colleague nearby."

{cf. caerimonial function of rice-ladles in Japanese New Religions of spirit-mediumship}

p. 322 forgetfulness as poinalty for actresses’ neglect to worship Hua-guan

"There was a menstruating actress who did not worship Huaguang’s image before her rehearsal. As a result, when she came onstage, she forgot the metrical patterns."

"If I do not pay tribute to Huaguang and other patron deities, ... dizziness and fever, would be the punishment from these occupational deities. As an actress ..., I have ... internalized this kind of belief."



The Ro^le of Possession-Trance in Chinese Culture

Jordan Paper


p. 328 de Groot on spirit-mediumship

"J. J. M. de Groot, the first Western scholar to ground his study of Chinese religion on observation, found mediumism so ubiquitous that he termed

normative Chinese religion, "Wuism," referring to a common term for mediums in the classical literature : wu.

{Normative Korean religion is often termed "Muism", referring to the common term for spirit-medium in Korean : /mu/.}

Searching through the Chinese literature, de Groot found numerous references to mediumism, these being the first clearly described religious experiences in early Chinese texts." [fn. 2 : "J. J. M. de Groot, The Religious System of China (Leiden : E. J. Brill, 1910), 6.1187-1341."]

p. 334 spirit-mediumship, according to the Guo-yu ("Discourses of the States"), "Qi-yu-xia"

"people whose souls ... were able to be reverential ...,

their wisdom could interpret the upper (Sky) and the lower (Earth) realms;"

their __

was able to __ .


enlighten the distant, proclaiming it with clarity


illuminate it


understand ... it.

"For this reason,

the bright spirits (deceased clan luminaries) descended into (possessed) them;"

if into a __

that person was designated __ .





Thus they are designated during the Z^ou dynasty; whereas "Han ritual texts instead refer to "male wu" and "female wu.""

pp. 334-5 spirit-mediumship, according to Wan C^on (27-97 Chr.E.) : Lun-hen ("Discourses Weighed in the Balance"), cap. 20

p. 334

"The dead of past generations place people in trance and use them to speak. When the wu pray with mysterious sounds they bring down the souls of

p. 335

the dead, who speak through the mouths of the wu."

pp. 335-6 in the S^i-ji; in the Han-s^u; & in the Qian-fu Lun

p. 335

"The Shiji (ch. 12), in referring to ... Yue, not only mentions frequent rituals involving


possession by ghosts (gui), but

{Sokrates often asserted that he was at that time under influence of his daimon.}


places these rituals in the context of divination with cocks, common combination or religious practices throughout sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia."

{[Phaidon 118 – AG, p. 121] "Socrates would be dead. ... Socrates ... said (these were his last words), ‘Krito, we ought to offer a cock to Asklepios ... .’ "}


"in the Hanshu, we find mention of a female wu being possessed by a spirit (shen) ..., who was a specific former emperor."

{Possession of a spirit-medium by a dead emperor (or empress, or imperial prince or princess) is quite usual in Vietnamese spirit-mediumship.}

p. 336

"Wang Fu (2nd c. CE), in his Qianfu Lun (Discourses of a Recluse) (chap. 3), ... noted that many wu were either married or unmarried women who began their practice in the home but then took on public functions."

AG = By Matthew Dillon & Lynda Garland : Ancient Greece: social and historical documents. Routledge.

p. 338 founder of Daoist spirit-writing

"Mao shan Daoism" : "its founder, Yang Xi (b. 330), practiced spirit-writing".

p. 342 "I have rarely been at a large, busy temple in Taiwan, at least since the end of martial law, without observing both expected and unplanned spirit possessions."


MONUMENTA SERICA MONOGRAPH SERIES, LX = Philip Clart & Paul Crowe (edd.) : The People and the Dao : new studies in Chinese religions in honour of Daniel L. Overmyer. Institut Monumenta Serica, Sankt Augustin, Nettetal, 2009.