Together, and for the first time in any language, the 24 essays gathered in these volumes provide a composite picture of the history of religion in ancient China from the emergence of writing ca. 1250 BC to the collapse of the first major imperial dynasty in 220 AD. It is a multi-faceted tale of changing gods and rituals that includes the emergence of a form of “secular humanism” that doubts the existence of the gods and the efficacy of ritual and of an imperial orthodoxy that founds its legitimacy on a distinction between licit and illicit sacrifices. Written by specialists in a variety of disciplines, the essays cover such subjects as divination and cosmology, exorcism and medicine, ethics and self-cultivation, mythology, taboos, sacrifice, shamanism, burial practices, iconography, and political philosophy.
Produced under the aegis of the Centre de recherche sur les civilisations chinoise, japonaise et tibétaine (UMR 8155) and the École Pratique des Hautes Études (Paris).
John Lagerwey, Ph.D. Harvard University (1975), is Professor of the History of Daoism and Chinese religions at the École Pratique des Hautes Études (Paris-Sorbonne). His primary publications concern the history of Daoist ritual and the ethnography of local society in southeastern China.
Marc Kalinowski, Ph.D. University of Paris (1979), is Professor of Chinese thought and civilization at the École Pratique des Hautes Études (Paris-Sorbonne). He publishes extensively on the history of divination and cosmology in ancient China, including Cosmologie et divination dans la Chine ancienne (Paris 1991), and Divination et société dans la Chine médiévale (Paris, 2003).
"Early Chinese Religion is an extraordinary achievement. At once a summa of what we know about early Chinese religion, a critique of previous views, and an occasionally radical reimagining of early Chinese religion, it can function both as a reference work and as an introduction to the state of the art in the study of early Chinese religion. For the student of Chinese religion, of comparative religion, and of folk religion, it is a work of fundamental importance." – David Elton Gay, Indiana University, in: Journal of Folklore Research, posted April 20, 2011, in the online e-review service.
"The field of early Chinese religions has often been dealt with but never in such an abundance and by so many well-known experts as in the two huge volumes of the well-known Handbook of of Oriental Studies." – Claudia von Collani, in: Bibliographia Missionaria, LXXXIV, 2010
List of maps and illustrations
Introduction by John Lagerwey and Marc Kalinowski
Shang and Western Zhou (1250-771 BC):
Robert Eno - Shang state religion and the pantheon of the oracle texts
Alain Thote - Shang and Zhou funeral practices: interpretation of material vestiges
Martin Kern - Bronze inscriptions, the Shijing and the Shangshu: the evolution of the ancestral sacrifice during the Western Zhou
Kominami Ichiro - Rituals for the Earth
Eastern Zhou (770-256 BC):
Constance Cook - Ancestor worship during the Eastern Zhou
Mu-chou Poo - Ritual and ritual texts in early China
Yuri Pines - Chinese history writing between the sacred and the secular
Marc Kalinowski - Diviners and astrologers under the Eastern Zhou (770-256 BC): transmitted texts and recent archaeological discoveries
Fu-shih Lin - The image and status of shamans in ancient China
Romain Graziani - The subject and the sovereign: exploring the self in early Chinese self-cultivation
Mark Csikszentmihàlyi - Ethics and self-cultivation practice in early China
Mark Edward Lewis - The mythology of early China
Vera Dorofeeva-Lichtmann - Ritual practices for constructing terrestrial space (Warring States-early Han)
Jean Levi - The rite, the norm, and the Dao: philosophy of sacrifice and transcendence of power in ancient China
Qin and Han (221 BC-220 AD):
Michael Puett - Combining the ghosts and spirits, centering the realm: mortuary ritual and political organization in the ritual compendia of early China
Michael Nylan - Classics without canonization, learning and authority in Qin (221-210 BC) and Han (206 BC-AD 220)
Marianne Bujard - State and local cults in Han religion
Joachim Gentz - Language of Heaven, exegetical skepticism and the reinsertion of religious concepts in the Gongyang tradition
Roel Sterckx - The economics of religion in Warring States and early imperial China
Liu Tseng-kue -, Taboos: an aspect of belief in the Qin and Han
Michèle Pirazzoli-t’Serstevens - Death and the dead: practices and images in the Qin and Han
Ken Brashier - Eastern Han commemorative stelae: laying the cornerstones of public memory
Grégoire Espesset - Eastern Han religious mass movements and the early Daoist church
Li Jianmin - They shall expel demons: etiology, the medical canon and the transformation of medical techniques before the Tang
List of authors
Chinese religion; early China; comparative religion; secular humanism in China