Jinhua Jia

Abstract

This article examines the only extant compilation of Tang dynasty women's poetry, the Yaochi xinyong ji (Collection of new songs from Turquoise Pond), fragments of which have been rediscovered among the Dunhuang manuscripts in Russian library holdings. The study first discusses the compilation, contents, and poets of this collection, and then focuses on the works of three Daoist priestess-poets, Li Jilan, Yuan Chun, and Cui Zhongrong whose writings form the major part of this anthology. It investigates their poetry and reviews relevant sources to conduct a comprehensive examination of the lives and poems of the three poets, and concludes that they represented a new stage in the development of Chinese women's poetry.

Jinhua Jia

Most previous studies relating to women in Tang Daoism have relied heavily on Du Guangting’s (850-933) Yongcheng jixian lu, despite the fact that Du’s acknowledged hagiographies are idealized versions of the women’s lives. The present article seeks instead to gather information about historical priestesses from a wide range of contemporary sources, including most importantly epitaphic inscriptions, as well as other materials such as manuscripts from Dunhuang, various poems, essays, anecdotal accounts, and monastic gazetteers. Even while taking account of the possible urge of the authors sometimes to overpraise or exaggerate the merits of their subjects, we discover a surprisingly broad gamut of abilities displayed and activities engaged in by these women. Records relating to fifty-two named individuals are surveyed here, yielding much information of a quotidian nature about the varying roles and religious experiences of Daoist priestesses.


La plupart des études existantes concernant les femmes dans le taoïsme des Tang recourent d’abondance au Yongcheng jixian lu de Du Guangting (850-933), alors que cet ouvrage délibérément hagiographique offre une version idéalisée de la vie de ses héroïnes. Le présent article cherche plutôt à rassembler des informations sur des prêtresses ayant historiquement existé en parcourant un vaste ensemble de sources contemporaines: en premier lieu les inscriptions funéraires, mais également les manuscrits de Dunhuang, les poèmes, les essais, les anecdotes, ou les monographies monastiques. Même en admettant une tendance de la part des auteurs à exagérer les mérites de leurs sujets, l’on découvre chez ces femmes un éventail de talents et d’activités étonnamment large. Les sources examinées ici concernent cinquante-deux personnes et livrent quantité d’informations de nature quotidienne sur les différents rôles et sur les expériences religieuses des prêtresses taoïstes.