China and Inner Asia

Organized Panel Session

Temples, Mountains, and Stones: Locating and Relocating Daoism in the History of Imperial China

Saturday, July 7
12:10 PM - 1:40 PM
Location: Juniper, New Building

Much has been said and written about how religious traditions have shaped, and been shaped by, the society around them in a continuous fashion. Daoism, being an indigenous Chinese religion, however, never had the continuity that we might be able to ascribe to, for example, the Christian church, in which religious beliefs and practices are always centered around a sacred origin. With that in mind, each paper in this panel interrogates the grandiose, overarching term “Daoism” from a more on-the-ground perspective, seeing the development of various Daoist traditions across time and space as a process of being invented and reinvented by the society in response to local changes. Nengjun Zhou opens the panel by showing how socio-political circumstances during the Han dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE) allowed "Kongtong"—a name of a Daoist mountain—to refer to not one, but seven places. Also focusing on sacred mountains, Teng Li examines the way in which Mount Wangwu in Henan, China, becomes sacred/Daoist in textual records. By examining stone stelae, Junfu Wong further complicates this issue by discussing how lay communities in north China during the Northern Dynasties (386-581) contributed to the iconographical interpretation of Daoist canonical traditions. Yue Wang turns our attention to the much later Qing period (1644-1912), investigating how earlier Daoist traditions were treated—or mistreated—by Daoists at Baiyun Guan (White Cloud Abbey) in Beijing. Most ambitiously, the papers together propose a new framework for approaching Chinese religions from a historical perspective in order to explore—and perhaps explode—the very term “Daoism”.

Yue Wang

University of Alberta, Canada

Presentation(s):

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Send Email for Junfu Wong

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Teng Li

University of Macau, China

Presentation(s):

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Send Email for Junfu Wong

Yue Wang

University of Alberta, Canada

Presentation(s):

Send Email for Yue Wang


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