Ritual life in south Hebei


A Daoist ritual in Guangzong county. Source here.

Separately from his new book, Ian Johnson has written a vivid article about Chasing the Yellow Demon, a community New Year’s ritual in Guyi village in the Handan region of south Hebei.

He updates work by David Johnson [no relation!]—whose own study was based on the work of local scholar Du Xuede 杜学德.

  • Ian Johnson, “Chasing the Yellow Demon”, in Journal of Asian Studies 2017, after
  • David Johnson, Spectacle and sacrifice: the ritual foundations of village life in north China (Harvard University Press, 2009), pp.92–143.
    For the latter, see reviews by Vincent Goossaert and Adam Chau, Journal of Asian Studies 70.3 (2011). See also
  • Daniel L. Overmyer [Ou Danian] and Fan Lizhu (eds), Huabei nongcun minjian wenhua yanjiu congshu: Handan diqu minsu jilu [Studies of the popular culture of north China villages: folklore records of the Handan region] (Tianjin guji chubanshe, 2006), including articles by Du Xuede.

Ian Johnson found that Chasing the Yellow Demon has lately become reified and commodified; he makes further fine comments on the Intangible Cultural Heritage flummery.

Most impressive is Yue Yongyi’s work on the Cangyanshan temple fair.

* * *

Yet the whole area of south Hebei also remains a major site for occupational household Daoists, not part of David Johnson’s purview—indeed, in finding village ritual largely independent of the practice of Buddhist and Daoist ritual specialists (whom he describes simply as clerical “elites”), he sets himself at odds with scholars of religious life in both north and south China.

In counties throughout the Xingtai and Handan regions, household Complete Perfection Daoists continue to perform impressive jiao Offering rituals for their communities. While we await a new volume in the Daojiao yishi congshu series from Luo Dan and Xu Tianji, see my In search of the folk Daoists of north China, pp.88–94, citing work by local scholars such as Pan Zhonglu 潘忠禄, and major works by Yuan Jingfang 袁静芳.

4 thoughts on “Ritual life in south Hebei

  1. Pingback: Notes from Beijing 1: some fine ethnographers | Stephen Jones: a blog

  2. Pingback: A Daoist ritual, Suzhou 1956 | Stephen Jones: a blog

  3. Pingback: Ritual life around Suzhou | Stephen Jones: a blog

  4. Pingback: A new volume for a great Chinese music scholar | Stephen Jones: a blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s