Nomads on Pilgrimage

Mongols on Wutaishan (China), 1800-1940


Nomads on Pilgrimage: Mongols on Wutaishan (China), 1800-1940 is a social history of the Mongols’ pilgrimages to Wutaishan in late imperial and Republican times. In this period of economic crisis and rise of nationalism and anticlericalism in Mongolia and China, this great Buddhist mountain of China became a unique place of intercultural exchanges, mutual borrowings, and competition between different ethnic groups. Based on a variety of written and visual sources, including a rich corpus of more than 340 Mongolian stone inscriptions, it documents why and how Wutaishan became one of the holiest sites for Mongols, who eventually reshaped its physical and spiritual landscape by their rites and strategies of appropriation.

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Isabelle Charleux, Ph.D., is senior researcher at the National Centre for Scientific Research, France. She authored books, scholarly articles and catalogues on Mongol material culture, including Temples et monastères de Mongolie-Intérieure (Paris, 2006) and is director of the publication “Nord-Asie.”
'Charleux’s book is an erudite and prodigiously detailed study of pilgrimages to Wutaishan—a Buddhist sacred mountain in China’s Shanxi province—made by Mongols during the later Qing and early Chinese republican periods (...) a wonderfully detailed and meticulously work of scholarship, likely to have a significant interdisciplinary appeal.'
Joseph Bristley, University College London, Inner Asia, 18 (2016)

‘The monograph is a real novelty. It is based on original textual sources and secondary literature in several languages as well as on results of Charleux’s fieldword (…) As a multidisciplinary work, it will be welcomed by researchers of different backgrounds who employ diverse methodologies: historians, ethnographers, cultural anthropologists, philologists and Buddhologists (…) it is necessary to stress the richness of data included in this book, as well as Charleux’s interesting and often provocative analysis and conclusions, which may instigate further discussion on the role of Mongolian pilgrims in Wutaishan, as well as on their impact on the Qing empire. The Tibetan and Mongolian nomads who created a ‘little Tibet’ in central China are disappearing from the world. The book is a must for Mongolists but it will supply an abundance of material too for world historians, cultural anthropologists and specialists of religions and arts as well as for Asia lovers.’
Agata Bareja-Starzynska, University of Warsaw, forthcoming in Nomadic Peoples

Scholars working on Mongol, Tibetan and Chinese religions; on the social history of Buddhism; on pilgrimages in East Asia and other parts of the world; historians of late imperial China.
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