Rites of Passage in Chinese Societies

Willamette University

Instructor: Juwen Zhang
Associate Professor of Chinese Language and Culture
Department of Japanese and Chinese

Office: 147 Walton; Phone: 503-370-6256; Email: Juwen@willamette.edu

The Course Purpose:

This course surveys the life-cycle rituals of birth, marriage, and death in Chinese societies from folkloristic, anthropological, philosophical, and historical perspectives.  By reading the text, understanding the context, observing the performance, and reenacting the rituals, the participants learn the subject as a disciplinary field and as a body of knowledge in Chinese culture, and examine the rituals through such topics as, gender role, ethnic identity, symbolism, belief and behavior, folklore and tradition, and continuity of culture.  (MOI: Understanding Society).

Detailed Syllabus

Here are some confucian text about li (propriety, rites/ritual),
a brief introduction to the topic
selected further readings on Chinese ritual and culture
and some pictures. Some other readings are in WISE.

How important is li (propriety; rites; manner) in Chinese societies/culture?

"Confucius (551-479 B.C.) can truly be said to have molded Chinese civilization in general" (Wing-Tsit Chan, 1963:14). (The following translation is from Chan, 1963.)
Analects (Lun Yu) is practically accepted by all scholars are the most reliable source of Confucius' doctrines. The following translation is from D.C. Lau (1979).

On filial piety from Analects:
1:2 Yu Tzu said, "Few of those who are filial sons and respectful brothers will show disrespect to superiors, and there has never been a man who is not disrespectful to superiors and yet creates disorder. A superior man is devoted to the fundamentals (the root). When the root is firmly established, the moral law (Tao) will grow. Filial piety and brotherly respect are the root of humanity (jen)."

1:6 Young men should be filial when at home and respectful to their elders when away from home. They should be earnest and faithful. They should love all extensively and be intimate with men of humanity. When they have any energy to spare after the performance of moral duties, they should use it to study literature and the arts (wen).

1:11 Confucius said, "When a man's father is alive, look at the bent of his will. When his father is dead, look at his conduct. If for the three years [of mourning] he does not change from the way of his father, he may be called filial."

2:5 Meng I Tzu asked about filial piety. Confucius said: "Never disobey." [Later,] when Fan Ch'ih was driving him, Confucius told him, "Meng-sun asked me about filial piety, and I answered him, 'Never disobey.'" Fan Ch'ih said, "What does that mean?" Confucius said, "When parents are alive, serve them according to the rules of propriety. When they die, bury them according to the rules of propriety and sacrifice to them according to the rules of propriety."

2:7 Tzu-yu asked about filial piety. Confucius said, "Filial piety nowadays means to be able to support one's parents. But we support even dogs and horses. If there is no feeling of reverence, wherein lies the difference?"

4:18 Confucius said, "In serving his parents, a son may gently remonstrate with them. When he sees that they are not inclined to listen to him, he should resume an attitude of reverence and not abandon his effort to serve them. He may feel worried, but does not complain."

4:19 Confucius said, "When his parents are alive, a son should not go far abroad; or if he does, he should let them know where he goes."

4:21 Confucius said, "A son should always keep in mind the age of his parents. It is an occasion for joy [that they are enjoying long life] and also an occasion for anxiety [that another year is gone]."
On Ceremonies and Music:

1:12 Yu Tzu said, "Among the functions of propriety (li) the most valuable is that it establishes harmony. The excellence of the ways of ancient kings consists of this. It is the guiding principle of all things great and small. If things go amiss, and you, understanding harmony, try to achieve it without regulating it by the rules of propriety, they will still go amiss."

2:5 Meng I Tzu asked about filial piety. Confucius said: "Never disobey." [Later,] when Fan Ch'ih was driving him, Confucius told him, "Meng-sun asked me about filial piety, and I answered him, 'Never disobey.'" Fan Ch'ih said, "What does that mean?" Confucius said, "When parents are alive, serve them according to the rules of propriety. When they die, bury them according to the rules of propriety and sacrifice to them according to the rules of propriety."

3:3 Confucius said, "If a man is not humane (jen), what has he to do with ceremonies (li)? If he is not humane, what has he to do with music?"

3:4 Lin Fang asked about the foundation of ceremonies. Confucius said, "An important question indeed! In rituals or ceremonies, be thrifty rather than extravagant, and in funerals, be deeply sorrowful rather than shallow in sentiment."

3:17 Tzu-kung wanted to do away with the sacrificing of a lamb at the ceremony in which the beginning of each month is reported to ancestors. Confucius said, "Tz'u! You love the lamb but I love the ceremony."

3:19 Duke Ting asked how the ruler should employ his ministers and how the ministers should serve their ruler. Confucius said, "A ruler should employ his ministers according to the principle of propriety, and ministers should serve their ruler with loyalty."

6:25 Confucius said, "The superior man extensively studies literature (wen) and restrains himself with the rules of propriety. Thus he will not violate the Way.

8:8 Confucius said, "Let a man be stimulated by poetry, established by the rules of propriety, and perfected by music."

8:9 Confucius said, "The common people may be made to follow it (the Way) but may not be made to understand it."
[Cheng Hsuan said "the common people" refers to ignorant people and Chu Hsi said that ordinary people do things without understanding why.]

A Brief Introduction:

The following is not intended to comprehensively answer the questions or define the terms and concepts, rather to provide points to think through these issues. While being a folklorist in training, I find it more meaningful to examine this subject beyond ethnographic introduction and from perspectives crossing disciplines. After all, both the ritual practices and our perspectives are changing in the process of cultural globalization and localization.

Why do we study Chinese Rites of Passage?

The charm and mystery of Chinese culture will continue amaze all the thinking minds, along with the fascinations of the changing world in which we live. One of the key questions in understanding Chinese culture and history is: What has made China or Chinese culture survive as a unified country and culture for over five millennia? (Perhaps you may also wonder why the other three of the four ancient civilizations did not continue as Chinese civilization has done. Indeed, this question can also be understood as one to question who we are and what attitude or worldview we hold toward ourselves and the other.)

Intellectual minds have tried from different perspectives to answer this question. Language, government system, military control, education, and other social and cultural aspects have been focused on to reason the Chinese culture as what it has been. Another approach, however, seems to be equally, if not more, important in this attempt, that is, to look at what the common people have been thinking about and doing in everyday practices. The majority of the population has been illiterate and engaged in agriculture, and have rarely been paid relevant attention, while the written classics and literature by the elite have been studied as what Chinese culture is all about.

Naturally, we want to ask: How important is the role of everyday practice of the common people in understanding the formation and development of Chinese culture? Do the majority common people carry on the core beliefs and behavior of the Chinese culture? What are the media of tradition in the continuity of the Chinese culture? How important and meaningful is the the ritual practice in everyday life to the Chinese people? Why the Chinese have different practices about birth, wedding, and funeral?

Further, we want to ask: How meaningful is the ritual practice of the common people to the Chinese in and outside of China in this changing world? Is there an Overseas Chinese culture in addition to the Chinese culture in China? If so, what are the links and transformations?

All of these questions are extremely meaningful to understanding the behavior and belief of the Chinese people all over the world, whether in your neighborhood, class, workplace, the other side of the negotiation table, or as a friend or relative of yours.

There are certainly other reasons to study this subject, and we will find them out.

What does "Chinese" mean? Or who are Chinese?

Chinese, when the word is used to refer to the people, may have layers of meaning: geographic, political, racial/ethnic, religious, and cultural. In fact, it may also indicate the differences of dress, food, and language among the peoples.

The question "who are Chinese?" is, believe it or not, getting more and more attractive to scholars both in and outside of China. To ask it in another way: What is the Chinese identity? To use the popular word: What is the "Chineseness"? Philosophers, anthropologist, sociologists, folklorists, political scientists, among others, have explored this question. It seems that the concept can be understood at levels of various geographic localities, biological inheritance, and cultural integration. Again, among many, we will explore the question from the level of everyday practice of the common people -- how they cook and eat, how they celebrate birth and wedding, how they conduct funeral, and how they understand life and death. We want to ask: Are the diet, family ties, language, ritual objects, as well as fortune-telling marking the identity of being Chinese? And what else? What are the core markers and what are the arbitrary markers?

What does "China" mean?

"China," like "Chinese," is "fluid." Geographic and political domains are no longer enough to express the meaning of China. How about "Culture China"? This is a notion proposed by the modern neo-Confucian philosopher Wei-Ming Tu (1994). While it is epochal in thinking through the issue, there are questions left to be answered. The anthropologist Li Yih-yuan (1995) supplements the notion with emphasis on the practice of common people in their foodways, family relationship, and fortune-telling (e.g., fengshui practice, or geomancy). Certainly, there is also a ethnic diverse China, in addition to a China of many faces. But what is sure is that the study of Chinese rites of passage provides a unique lens to look at Chinese and China.

What does "Chinese societies" mean?

While China is "fluid," we tend to use "Chinese societies" to refer to all the societies and communities of the Chinese people beyond and unlimited to the geographic, political, linguistic, and racial/ethnic boundaries. Therefore, we look at the ritual life of the Chinese not only in the ancient times, but also in this very day; not only in China, but also in many corners of the world among the overseas Chinese.

What is rite and what is ritual?

No dictionary of the English language has made clear distinctions between the words "rite" and "ritual." Scholars have tried to define them as they need from disciplinary studies, for example, in anthropology, sociology, religious studies, and folkloristics. Indeed, the process of defining these terms has brought forth the field of ritual studies in relation to many other aspects of humanities.

One effort seems to be particular helpful, to me, though a dozen other insightful definitions will also be discussed at depth. “‘Ritual’ is a sequence of customary symbolic actions; a ‘rite’ is a customary symbolic action,” Platvoet and Toorn (1995:6) contend and further explain that, “‘ritual’ does not refer to the religious ones only, but including secular ceremonies as well.” “Customary” refers to the standardization of symbolic actions through repetition in social interaction and their being learnt in the processes of socialization; “symbolic” expresses and conveys meanings from a sender to a receiver, and therefore always entails communication; “action” comprises both verbal and non-verbal modes."

One essential problem in studying Chinese ritual life is the translation of the terms. We have seen enough misleading renditions of the Confucian concept of li (meaning propriety, manner, ritual, and more) into a single word of "ritual" or "rite." We have to look at the complex of the behaviors with complex beliefs to better understand the notion.

What is "rites of passage"?

It was Arnold van Gennep who first used this phrase to summarize the life cycle ceremonies in his book published in French in 1908 as Les Rites de Passage. The English translation appeared only in 1960 under the title, The Rites of Passage (Translated by Monika B. Vizedom and Gaberielle L. Caffee. The University of Chicago Press).

The expression is now getting popular and is used in various situations, but often means differently to different users and listeners.

When Arnold van Gennep used rites de passage, he meant the the three (geographical, social, and spiritual) transitional stages in one's life time: separation, transition, and reincorporation. Usually, people understand them as the stages from birth to marriage to death. This perhaps is the first layer of the meaning. It is also used to mean the process between every two stages, or within each stage. When we examine the examples from Chinese life, we will find this concept to be very helpful in cultural analysis.

The most important development of van Gennep's notion is made by Victor Turner whose concept of "liminality," in particular, among several other terms, has led to a great deal of studies of ritual and social structure. Studying this, along with other notions, we will begin to notice and understand some ideas and behaviors that we hold and do without knowing why.

What are we going to do in studying Chinese rites of passage?

Chinese rites of passage have been studied at various depths in some disciplines. But here, we would like to make an effort to study this topic in such a way:

We will look at the written classic texts from the ancient times and recent publications; we will look at personal experiences and narratives in the early times (from text) and nowadays; we will look at the practices at the national, group, and individual levels; we will look at how the inside practitioners look at themselves and others as well as how the outside observers look at the practice; and we will participate and observe some rituals and compare what is written with what is unwritten.

We will be careful about the use and distinction of written text versus oral text; context of performance of a ritual versus context of culture and context of society; and performance within the social group versus performance cross social groups.

Of course, there are many more interesting events that will help us with this study.

What are the classics on Chinese rites of passage?

The Book of Etiquette and Ceremonial (Li Yi) is the most explicitly detailed Confucian book on rites of passage. This book, along with other classics formed over two thousand years ago, helped ritualize the Confucian ethics which has been the dominant ideas in Chinese culture. Some other classics that have richly recorded Chinese rites of passage are: The Book of Rites (Li Ji); The Book of Zhou Rites (Zhou Li); The Book of Dadai Rites (Dadai Li Ji); The Analects (Lun Yu); Mencius (Meng Zi); Xun Zi (Hsun Tzu); The Book of Filial Piety (Xiao Jing); The Annals of Lu Buwei (Lu Shi Chun Qiu); De Tao Jing; Mo Zi (Mo Tzu); Han Fei Zi (Han Fei Tzu).

It is interesting to note how the ancient rituals were continued through reinterpretation during the 11th-13th century by the neo-Confucians that have shaped what the Chinese ritual life is like today. Two books are particularly important: Sima Guang’s Records of Rites (Sima Shi Shu Yi) by Sima Guang and Chu Hsi’s Family Ritual (Chu Hsi Jia Li) by Chu Hsi (Zhu Xi).

The dramatic changes in China in the late 19th century and early 20th century, marked by the May Fourth Movement (1919), were vividly expressed through the changes of everyday life, for example, hair style, dress style, wedding ceremony, ban of footbinding, and funeral.

While we say that China is changing rapidly, we find that the weddings and funerals are fundamentally the same as they were prescribed over two thousand years ago. How shall we understand this continuity?

Last but not least, we see that, in the process of Chinese interacting with the world, Chinese restaurants and films, among other cultural forms, have played a major role in presenting and represent Chinese culture. How important are those restaurants to Chinese weddings and funerals? What would those films be like without the rituals of birth, wedding, and funeral? Why is fengshui increasingly popular in burial (to whom) and in business (to whom)?

The study of Chinese rites of passage is indeed a unique and little explored channel to unveil the "mystery" of Chinese culture.

Selected Further Readings on Chinese Ritual and Culture:

There are four categories, and they are:
I. Ritual Studies in General;
II. Related Chinese Culture in General;
III. Chinese Ritual Studies in General;
IV.Chinese Rites of Passage in Text and Practice.


I. Ritual Studies in General:

Bell, Catherine M. Ritual: Perspectives and Dimensions. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
---------. Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Ben-Amos, Dan. "Toward a Definition of Folklore in Context." Journal of American Folklore 84:3-15. Reprinted in Toward New Perspectives In Folklore. eds. A. Paredes and R. Bauman. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1971.

Bendann, Effie. Death Customs: An Analytical Study of Burial Rites. New York: Knopf. Reprint, 1990[1930].

Bloch, Maurice. Prey into Hunter. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.
--------. Ritual, History and Power: Selected Papers in Social Anthropology. London: The Athlone Press, 1989.

Block, Maurice and Jonathan Parry. eds. Death and the Regeneration of Life. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1982.

Brunvand, Jan Harold. The Study of American Folklore: An Introduction. New York & London: W. W. Norton & Co., 1998. GR105 B7 1998

Coffin, Margaret M. Death in Early America: The History and Folklore of Customs and Superstitions of Early Medicine, Funerals, Burials and Mourning. New York: Nelson, 1976.

Davies, Douglas J. Death, Ritual and Belief: The Rhetoric of Funerary Rites. London and Washington: Cassell, 1997.

Driver, Tom F. The Magic Of Ritual: Our Need For Liberating Rites That Transform Our Lives And Our Communities. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1991.

Douglas, Mary. Natural Symbols: Explorations In Cosmology. With a new introduction by the author. 1st Pantheon paperbacks ed Pub. New York: Pantheon Books, 1982[1973].
---------. Purity and Danger: An Analysis of the Concepts of Pollution and Taboo. New York and London: Ark Paperback, 1966.

Doty, William G. Mythography: The Study Of Myths And Rituals. University of Alabama Press, 1986.

Durkheim, E. Les Formes Elementaires de la vie Religieuse: le Systeme Totemique en Australie. Paris: Alcan. 1912. The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, trans. J. W. Swain, New York: The Free Press. 1915, 1965,

Eliade, Mircea. The Myth of the Eternal Return: Or, Cosmos and History. Trans. By Willard R. Trask. 1965[1959]. 2nd printing with corrections. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
--------. The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion. Trans. By Willard R. Trask. New York: Haper & Row, 1961.

Farrell, James J. Inventing the American Way of Death. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1980.

Geertz, Clifford. Local Knowledge. New York: Basic Books, 1983.
---------. The Interpretation of Cultures. New York: Basic Books, 1973.

Gennep, Arnold Van. The Rites of Passages. Tr. Monika B. Vizedom And Gabrielle L. Caffee. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1960[1908]. GN473 G513 1960.

Green, Thomas A. ed. Folklore : An Encyclopedia of Beliefs, Customs, Tales, Music, and Art. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 1997. GR35 F63 1997.

Grimes, Ronald L. Deeply into the Bone: Re-Inventing Rites of Passage. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.
--------. Beginnings In Ritual Studies. Rev. ed Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina Press, 1995.
Hobsbawn, Eric and Terence Ranger. The Invention of Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983.

Hughes-Freeland, F. ed. Ritual, Performance, Media. Routledge, 1998.

Hughes-Freeland, Felicia and Mary M. Crain. eds. Recasting Ritual: Performance, Media, Identity. London and New York: Routledge, 1998.

Humphrey, Caroline and J. A. Laidlaw. The Archetypal Actions of Ritual: A Theory of Ritual. Oxford: Clarendon Press ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1994.

Kertzer, David I. Ritual, Politics, and Power. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988.

Lincoln, Bruce. Discourse And The Construction Of Society : Comparative Studies Of Myth, Ritual, And Classification. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

La Fontaine J. S. ed. The Interpretation Of Ritual: Essays In Honour Of A. I. Richards. London: Tavistock Publications, 1972.

Lindgren, J. Ralph and Jay Knaak. Ritual and Semiotics. New York: P. Lang, 1997.

Myerhoff, Barbara. "A Death in Due Time: Construction of Self and Culture in Ritual Drama." In Rite, Drama, Festival, Spectacle. ed. J. MacAloon. Philadelphia: Institute for the Study of Human Issues, 1984.
---------. "Rites of Passage: Process and Paradox." In Celebration: Studies in Festivity and Ritual. ed. V. Turner. 1982. Pp.109-135.

Metcalf, Peter and R. Huntington. Celebration of Death: The Anthropology of Mortuary Ritual. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Oring, Elliott. Folk Groups and Folklore Genres: An Introduction. Logan: Utah State University Press, 1986. GR66 F65 1986.
---------. Folk Groups and Folklore Genres: A Reader. Logan: Utah State University Press, 1989. GR66 F64 1989.

Platvoet, Jan and Karel van der Toorn. Pluralism and Identity: Studies in Ritual Behaviour. Leiden; New York: E.J. Brill, 1995.

Rappaport, Roy A. Ritual And Religion In The Making Of Humanity. Cambridge, U.K.; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
---------. "Ritual." In Folklore, Cultural Performances, and Popular Entertainments. ed. Richard Bauman. New York: Oxford University Press. 1991

Rothenbuher, Eric W. Ritual Communication: From Everyday Conversation to Mediated Ceremony. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publishers, 1998.

Schechner, Richard. The Future of Ritual: Writings on Culture and Performance. London; New York: Routledge, 1993.

Schechner, Richard and Mady Schuman. eds. Ritual, Play, And Performance: Readings in the Social Sciences/Theatre. New York: Seabury Press, 1976.

Segal, Robert A. ed. The Myth And Ritual Theory: An Anthology. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishers, 1998.

Smith, Jonathan Z. To Take Place: Toward Theory in Ritual. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987.
Soeffner, Hans-Georg. The Order of Rituals: The Interpretation of Everyday Life. Translated by Mara

Luckmann. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 1997.

Tambiah, Stanley J. Magic, Science, Religion, and the Scope of Rationality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Turner, Victor. From Ritual To Theatre: The Human Seriousness Of Play. New York City: Performing Arts Journal Publications, 1982.
---------. "Liminality and the Performative Genres." In Rite, Drama, Festival, Spectacle. ed. MacAloon. 1984. Pp.19-91.
---------. Celebration: Studies in Festivity and Ritual. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1982.
---------. Dramas, Fields, And Metaphors: Symbolic Action In Human Society. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1974.
---------. The Ritual Process: Structure And Anti-Structure. Chicago: Aldine, 1969.
---------. "Betwixt and Between: the Liminal Period in Rites of Passage." In The Forest of Symbols, Aspects of Ndembu Ritual. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1967.

Turner, Victor and Edward M. Bruner. eds. The Anthropology of Experience. With an Epilogue by

Clifford Geertz. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1986.


II. Related Chinese Culture in General (including Overseas Chinese Studies):

Ames, Roger and David L. Hall. Daodejing: "Making This Life Significant": A Philosophical Translation. New York: Ballantine Books, 2003.

Allan, Sarah. The Shape of the Turtle: Myth, Art and Cosmos in Early China. New York: State University of New York Press, 1991.

Baker, Hugh. Chinese Family And Kinship. New York: Columbia University Press. 1979.

Birrell, Anne. The Classic of Mountains and Seas. Penguin Books. 1999. GR335 C6213 1999
---------. Chinese Mythology: An Introduction. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. 1999[1993]. BL1825 B57 1999.

Bodde, Derk. Essays on Chinese Civilization. Edited and introduced by C. Le Blanc and D. Borei. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981.

Campany, Robert Ford. To Live as Long as heaven and Earth. University of California Press, 2002.

Chan, Wing-tsit. A Sourcebook in Chinese Philosophy. Princeton University Press. 1963.

Cohen, Paul A. History in Three Keys: the Boxers as Event, Experience, and Myth. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997.
---------. Discovering History in China: American Historical Writing on the Recent Chinese Past. New York: Columbia University Press, 1984.

Davis, Edward L. Society and the Supernatural in Song China. London: Arthur Probsthain, 2001.

De Barry, WM. T. et. al. compiled. Sources of Chinese Tradition. 2 vol. New York: Columbia University Press, 1964.

De Groot, J. J. M. The Religious System of China. 6 Vols. Leyden: E. J. Brill, 1892-1910.

Eberhard, Wolfram. Studies in Chinese Folklore and Related Essays. Bloomington: Indiana University Research Center for the Language Sciences, 1970.
---------. The Local Cultures of South and East China. tr. A. Eberhard. Leiden: Brill, 1968.
---------. Folktales of China. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1965.

Ebrey, Patricia B. The Cambridge Illustrated History of China. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
--------. Ed. Chinese Civilization: A Sourcebook. 2nd ed., rev. and expanded. New York: Free Press, 1993.
--------. "The Response of the Sung State to Popular Funeral Practices." In Religion and Society in T'ang and Sung China. Eds. Patricia Buckley Ebrey and Peter N. Gregory. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1993.
--------. Confucianism and Family Rituals in Imperial China: A Social History of Writing About Rites. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991.

Ebrey, Patricia and James L. Watson. eds. Kinship Organization in Late Imperial China. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1986.

Freedman, Maurice. Family and Kinship in Chinese Society. 1970.

Granet, Marcel. The Religion of the Chinese People. Trans., edited, adn with an introduction by Maurice Freedman. New York : Harper & Row. 1977.

Li, Yih-yuan. "Notions of Time, Space and harmony in Chinese Popular Culture." In Time and Space in Chinese Culture. eds. Chun-Chieh Huang and Erik Zurcher. 1995. Pp.383-398.

Loewe, Michael. Divination, Mythology and Monarchy in Han China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1994.
---------. Chinese Ideas of Life and Death: Faith Myth and Reason in the Han Period (202 BC - AD 220). London: George Allen & Unwin. 1982.
---------. Ways to Paradise: The Chinese Quest for Immortality. London; Boston: Allen & Unwin. 1979.

Lopez, Donald S. Jr. ed. Religions of China in Practice. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996.

McClenon, James. "Near-Death Folklore in Medieval China and Japan: A Comparative Analysis." Asian Folklore Studies 50:319-342. 1991.

Needham, Joseph. Science and Civilisation in China. 5 v. Cambridage University Press, 1954-1988.
O'Brien, Joanne. Chinese Myths and Legends. Arrow Books. 1990. GR335 C52 1990.

Paper, Jordan D. The Spirits are Drunk: Comparative Approaches to Chinese Religion. Albany: State University of New York, 1995.

Smith, Richard J. China's Cultural Heritage. 2nd ed. Westview Press, 1994.
--------. Fortune-Tellers and Philosophers: Divination in Traditional Chinese Society. Boulder: Westview Press, 1991.

Tu, Wei-Ming. ed. The Living Tree: The Changing Meaning of Being Chinese Today. Stanford: Stanford University Press. 1994.

Wu, Dingbo and Patrick D. Murphy. eds. Handbook of Chinese Popular Culture. Westport, CT: Greenwood. 1994. HM101 H255 1994.

Watson, Rubie and P. Ebrey. eds. Marriage and Inequality in Chinese Society. Berkeley: University of California Press. 1991.

Wolf, Arthur P. ed. Religion And Ritual In Chinese Society. Stanford: Stanford University Press. 1999[1974].

III. Chinese Ritual Studies in General:

Ahern, Emily M. Chinese Ritual and Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1981.
---------. The Cult of the Dead in a Chinese Village. Stanford University Press. 1973.

Bender, Mark. "A Funeral Chant of the Yi Nationality." In Religions of China in Practice. ed. Donald S.

Lopez, Jr. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1996. Pp. 337-343.

Brook, Timothy. "Funeral Ritual And The Building Of Lineages In Late Imperial China." Harvard Journal Of Asiatic Studies 49.2:465-499. 1989.

Chang, K. C. Art, Myth, and Ritual: The Path to Political Authority in Ancient China. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 1983.

DeWoskin, Kenneth J. and J.I. Crump, Jr. In Search of the Supernatural : The Written Record. Translated from Sou Shen Ji, by Kan Bao (fl.317-322). Stanford: Stanford University Press. 1996. GR335 K3313 1996.

Dore, Henri. Researches into Chinese Superstitions. Taipei. [reprint]. 1967.

Feuchtwang, Stephan. An Anthropological Analysis of Chinese Geomancy. 1974.

Johnson, David. ed. Ritual Opera, Operatic Ritual: "Mu-Lien Rescues His Mother" In Chinese Popular Culture: Papers From The International Workshop On The Mu-Lien Opera. With an additional contribution on the Woman Huang legend by Beata Grant. Berkeley: University of California Press; Distributed by IEAS Publications. 1989.

Jordan, David K. Gods, Ghosts, And Ancestors: Folk Religion in A Taiwanese Village. Berkeley: University of California Press. 1972.

Knapp, Ronald. China's Old Dwelling. University of Hawaii Press. 2000.
---------. China's Living Houses. University of Hawaii Press. 1999. GT365 K6 1999.

Kuhn, Dieter. ed. Burial In Song China. Germany: Heidelberg. 1994.

Lagerwey, John. Taoist Ritual in Chinese Society and History. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company; London: collier Macmillan Publishers. 1987.

Levy, Howard S. Chinese Footbinding: The History of a Curious Erotic Custom. New York: Walton Rawls. 1966. GT498 F66 L48 1992

Saso, Michael. Blue Dragon Whit e Tiger: Taoist Rites of Passage. Washington, D.C. Distributed by University of Hawaii Press. 1990.
--------. Taoism and the Rite of Cosmic Renewal. Washington State University Press. 1972.

Teiser, Stephen F. 1988a. The Ghost Festival in Medieval China. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Ter Haar, Barend. 2000. The Ritual and Mythology of Chinese Triads: Creating an Identity. Brill Academic Publishers.

Watson, James L. and Evelyn S. Rawski. eds. Death Ritual in Late Imperial and Modern China. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. 1988.

Welch, Patricia Bjaaland. Chinese New Year. Hong Kong; New York: Oxford University Press. 1997. GT4905 W46 1997.

Yung, Bell and Evelyn S. Rawski and Rubie S. Watson. eds. 1996. Harmony and Counterpoint: Ritual Music in Chinese Context. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Zhang, Juwen. "Falling Seeds Take Root: Ritualizing Chinese American Identity through Funerals." Dissertation. University of Pennsylvania, 2001.
--------. "Scholar Objects and Folk Beliefs." In Treasures of the Chinese Scholar. ed. Fang Jing Pei. New York and Tokyo: Weatherhill, 1997.

IV. Chinese Rites of Passage in Text and Practice:

Ebrey, Patricia B. Chu Hsi's Family Rituals: A Twelfth-Century Chinese Manual for the Performance of Cappings, Weddings, Funerals, and Ancestral Rites. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1991. GN635 C5 C4813 1991.

Bodde, Derk. Annual Customs and Festivals in Peking. 1965.

Bredon, J. & I. Mitrophanow. The Moon Year: A Record of Chinese Customs and Festivals. 1927.

Hentze, Carl. Chinese Tomb Figures: A Study in the Beliefs and Folklore of Ancient China. With a foreword by W. Perceval Yetts. New York: AMS Press. 1974. Original in French, 1928.

Smith, Arthur H. Village Life in China: A Study in Sociology. New York: Greenwood Press, 1969[1899].

Hsu, Francis L. K. and Hendrick Serrie. eds. The Overseas Chinese: Ethnicity in National Context. Lanham; New York; Oxford: University Press of America. 1998.

Brook, Timothy. "Funeral Ritual and the Building of Lineages in Late Imperial China." Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 49.2:465-499, 1989.

Bruun, Ole. Fengshui in China: Geomantic Divination Between State Orthodoxy and Popular Religion. Richmond: Curzon. Forwarded by S. Feuchtwang. London: Arthur Probsthain, 2002.

Bruun, Ole and Arne Kalland. eds. Asian Perceptions of Nature: A Critical Approach. Curzon Press, 1995.

Feuchtwang, S. Popular Religion in China. Curzon Press, 2001.

Field, Stephen. Fengshuigate Page. (Online) Available http://www.fengshuigate.com [August 4, 2003]. 2003.

Lau, D. C. Confucius The Analects. Trans. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 1979.

Legge, James. I Ching, Book of Changes. Translation by James Legge. New York: Causeway Books, 1973.
--------. The Book of Poetry (Shi Jing). Chinese text with English translation. New York: Paragon Book Reprint Corp., 1967.

Zhang, Juwen. A Translation of the Ancient Chinese 'Book of Burial' by Guo Pu (276-324). Lewiston: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2004.

Some pictures to expand our vision.


It is reported that animal weddings are held in September in India, Madras in this case, in order to prey for peace and avoid evil spirits.

These three pictures are from http://www.people.com.cn/GB/14838/21883/22012/2117907.html



It is a wedding in Sibiu in Romania. It is reported that weddings for 12 years old girls are common in this area. The bride here is 12 years old and the the bridegroom is 15 years old.

These pictures are from this website: http://www.wenxuecity.com/BBSview.asp?SubID=newsdirect&MsgID=21913


These pictures are from a wedding on Dec. 7, 2002 in South Africa, between the prince of the Zulu King and an extend grandson of Mandela.

This is from the website: www.peopledail.com.cn

Typical footbinding shoes.
Courtesy of the collection of J.Fong.


This picture is from TV Guide, March 2003. It is for the HBO drama, The Sopranos. Photographed by Uli Rose.