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Title: Death, disease, and Daoism in the Tang (618-907 AD) : a history of Daoist liturgy in medieval China
Author: Cho, S.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2008
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This study examines Daoist rituals to deal with the recurring concerns in the medieval Chinese religion: the proper sending-off of the deceased, the avoidance of any malevolent effects associated with death, the search for the salvation of the dead. During the early medieval period, Daoism developed rituals that addressed the religious needs unsatisfied by the Confucian ritual framework. One of such concerns was that the newly dead may bring misfortunes to or harm their own family and neighbours. This is often manifested as diseases in the family. Many of the medical texts compiled during the Tang also show a similar aetiology and recommend ritual methods to drive out the pathogenic agents of the malignant ghosts. Likewise, in the popular religious tradition, the main concern was to prevent any malevolent influences from the dead. While exorcistic rituals were performed to the same end in Daoism too, more emphasis was put on the salvation of the dead. Petitioning rituals and zhai-retreats were observed to save the dead from the sufferings in the netherworld and thereby to eliminate their harmful influences on the living. A comparative analysis of the petitioning ritual and the zhai-retreats shows the historical changes during the Tang in which the latter emerged as the most prevalent form of ritual for the welfare of the living and the salvation of the dead, by inheriting the basic ritual structure of the former. By examining anecdotal literature and excavated materials, this study contextualises the prescriptive contents of the sources in the Daoist canon.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available