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Belief practices in mainland China have been subject to contracts as a result of a combination of factors: politics, economic growth, cultural development, and historic preservation. Thanks to the investigative reporting of the media, “contracting out belief” has lost all legitimacy on the level of politics, culture, religion, administration, and morality. The economy of temple incense has been relentlessly criticized for the same reason. In recent decades, Mount Cangyan, in Hebei, has changed from being a sacred site of pilgrimage to a landscaped tourist attraction. At the same time, the Mount Cangyan temple festival, which centers on the worship of the Third Princess, has gained legitimacy on a practical level. Conventional and newly emerged agents, such as beggars, charlatans, spirit mediums, do-gooders, and contractors of the temple, are actively involved in the thriving temple festival, competing, and sometimes cooperating, with each other. However, it is for the sake of maximizing profit that landscaped Mount Cangyan under the contract responsibility system has been re-sanctified around the worship of the Third Princess along with other, new gods and attractions. The iconic temple festival on this holy mountain has influenced other temple festivals in various nearby communities. The leading temple festival on Mount Cangyan entails a complicated social morphology and human geography. The economy of temple incense centering on belief in the Third Princess, i.e., the contracted out belief, has become a major part of local tourism and is intertwined with grand narratives such as pursuing national prosperity. The dialectics of the contracting and the contracted involve multidirectional interaction between individuals, local society, the state, and the temple and its deity. This article investigates the contracted and landscaped temple festival on the holy mountain of Cangyan in the context of everyday life and changing society.

在政治建构、经济发展、文化建设、文物保护的合力下,“被承包的信仰”早已成为普遍的社会事实。受从果到因的逻辑推理的规训,媒介写作中的“被承包的信仰”完全丧失了在政治、文化、宗教、行政管理以及道义等层面的合理性、正当性,香火经济也成为口诛笔伐的对象。近三十年来,圣山的景区化建设与管理使得原本作为信仰中心地的苍岩山旅游风景区的景观色彩日渐浓厚。与此同时,以三皇姑信仰为核心的苍岩山庙会也具有了事实上的合理性、合法性。乞丐、江湖术士、香头、行好的和庙主等新、老行动主体纷纷掺乎其中,竞争也妥协,庙会热闹而红火。为求利益最大化,承包制经营管理的模式使得景区化的圣山苍岩山更加倚重三皇姑信仰,从而使得景区化的圣山被再圣化,并滋生出新的神祇、景观。图像化的圣山庙会历时性地呈现出复杂的社会形态学和人文地理学特征,统括着圣山上下形态各异、或生或灭的大小社区型庙会。最终,围绕三皇姑信仰的香火经济——被承包的信仰——事实上成为地方旅游经济的龙头,并与兴国兴邦的民族国家发展的宏大叙事一道携手前行。呈现出承包与被承包多重辩证法的景区化圣山庙会也就有了在生活之流,尤其是社会之流中研究的应然与必然。 (This article is in English.)

Rural China

An International Journal of History and Social Science 中国乡村研究



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