This is an introduction to the eight essays included in this special two-issue volume of Nan Nü: Men, Women and Gender in China dedicated to the theme of women, gender and religion in premodern China. It is not intended as a comprehensive state-of-the-field overview. Rather, it seeks to address some of the issues and trends in this relatively under-represented area of scholarly research. It is for this reason that the discussion of the eight essays in this and the companion issue to follow is thematic rather than in order of appearance. The purpose is to show how these essays both provide, and illustrate the need for, a fuller understanding of the various ways in which Buddhist and Daoist religious practices and ideals in particular, were woven through the fabric of the lives of many women as well as men, not so much in opposition to, as in conjunction with, traditional Confucian norms.