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Encyclopedia of Religion, Second Edition
Lindsay Jones, Editor in Chief
© 2005 Thomson Gale, a part of The
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Program in Religious Studies,
University of Wisconsin—Madison
Professor, Department of Literary and
Associate Professor, Department of
Cultural Studies, Faculty of Modern
Comparative Studies, Ohio State
Professor of History of Religions,
Languages, University of Latvia
Baltic Religion and Slavic Religion
Emeritus, and Former Director of
Research Center for Black Studies,

University of California, Santa Barbara
Center for Muslim–Christian
Understanding and Liberal Studies
Neil Rudenstine Professor of Study of
Program, Georgetown University
Professor, History of Religions, Le
Latin America, Divinity School and
Art and Religion
Moyne College (Syracuse, New York)
Department of Anthropology, Harvard
Professor of Anthropology and Women’s
Professor of Religious Studies, and
Studies, George Washington University
Chair, Department of Religious
Australian Indigenous Religions
Professor of History of Religions,
Studies, Yale University
Dipartimento di Scienze
Professor Emeritus of History,
dell’Antichità, Università degli Studi
Professor and Director, The Institute
University of California, Los Angeles,
di Salerno
of Ismaili Studies, London
and Fellow, Netherlands Institute for
Advanced Studies in the Humanities
Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service
Professor, African American and
and Social Sciences
Professor of the History of Religions,
African Studies Program, University
History of Religions
University of Chicago
of California, Davis
Associate Professor in the Department
Professor of History and Religious
Professor of Hebrew and Religious
of East Asian Languages and
Studies, and Director, UMKC Center
Studies, Ohio State University
Literature and the Program in
for Religious Studies, University of
Religious Studies, University of
Missouri—Kansas City
Associate Professor, Religious Studies
Chinese Religions
Department, University of California,
Hershey Professor of Buddhist Studies,
Santa Barbara
Faculty of Comparative Culture,
The Divinity School, Harvard
Sophia University
Humor and Religion
Associate Professor of Religious Studies,
Associate Professor, Department of
McDaniel College
Professor of Religion, Bucknell
Languages and Cultures of Asia and
Study of Religion
University and Co-Coordinator,

eorel_fm 3/2/05 8:36 AM Page vi
Harvard Forum on Religion and
Religion, University of Chicago
Professor of Systematic Theology,
Law and Religion
Ecology and Religion
Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary
and the Center for Theology and the
Associate Professor of Religious Studies,
Francis Lee Higginson Professor of
Natural Sciences at the Graduate
and Director, Center for Latin
English Literature and Professor of
Theological Union, Berkeley,
American Studies, Arizona State
Folklore, Harvard University
Germanic Religions
Science and Religion
South American Religions
Professor Emerita, Senior Research
Professor of the History of Religions
Professor of Religion, Bucknell
Fellow and Associate Member of the
and Buddhist Studies in the Divinity
University, Founder and Coordinator,
Institute for Advanced Studies,
School and the Department of South
University of Bristol, England, and
Asian Languages and Civilizations,
Harvard Forum on Religion and
Professorial Research Associate, Centre
Emeritus, University of Chicago
Ecology, Research Fellow, Harvard
for Gender and Religions Research,
History of Religions
Yenching Institute, Research Associate,
School of Oriental and African
Harvard Reischauer Institute of
Studies, University of London
Assistant Professor, Department of
Japanese Studies
Gender and Religion
Classics and Ancient Mediterranean
Ecology and Religion
Studies and Department of History
Duesenberg Professor of Christianity
and Religious Studies, Pennsylvania
Associate Professor, Department of
and the Arts, and
State University
Comparative Studies, Ohio State
Professor of Humanities and Art
Ancient Near Eastern Religions
History, Valparaiso University
Politics and Religion
Color Inserts and Essays
Director of Research, Religion, Health
and Healing Initiative, Center for the
Professor of the History of Religions
Professor, Department of English,
Study of World Religions, Harvard
and Women’s Studies, Loyola
University of California, Los Angeles
University, and Senior Research
University New Orleans
Celtic Religion
Associate, Center for Women’s Health
New Religious Movements
and Human Rights, Suffolk University
Healing, Medicine, and Religion
Obafemi Awolowo University
African Religions
Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, University
of Toronto

Professor, Department of Theology,
Law and Religion
Professor of Comparative Religion, The
University of Notre Dame
History of Religions
University of Helsinki, Member of
Academia Scientiarum Fennica,
Charles A. Dana Professor of Religious
Dean of Students and Senior Lecturer
Studies, Lafayette College
Arctic Religions and Uralic Religions
in the Anthropology and Sociology of
Literature and Religion
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abbr. abbreviated; abbreviation
3 Bar. 3 Baruch
2 Chr. 2 Chronicles
abr. abridged; abridgment
4 Bar. 4 Baruch
Ch. Slav. Church Slavic
AD anno Domini, in the year of the
B.B. BavaD batraD
cm centimeters
(our) Lord
BBC British Broadcasting
col. column (pl., cols.)
Afrik. Afrikaans
Col. Colossians
AH anno Hegirae, in the year of the
BC before Christ
Colo. Colorado
BCE before the common era
comp. compiler (pl., comps.)
Akk. Akkadian
B.D. Bachelor of Divinity
Conn. Connecticut
Ala. Alabama
Beits. Beitsah
cont. continued
Alb. Albanian
Bekh. Bekhorot
Copt. Coptic
Am. Amos
Beng. Bengali
1 Cor. 1 Corinthians
AM ante meridiem, before noon
Ber. Berakhot
2 Cor. 2 Corinthians
amend. amended; amendment
Berb. Berber
corr. corrected
annot. annotated; annotation
Bik. Bikkurim
C.S.P. Congregatio Sancti Pauli,
Ap. Apocalypse
bk. book (pl., bks.)
Congregation of Saint Paul
Apn. Apocryphon
B.M. BavaD metsiEaD
app. appendix
BP before the present
d. died
Arab. Arabic
B.Q. BavaD qammaD
D Deuteronomic (source of the
EArakh. EArakhin
Bra¯h. Bra¯hman.a
Aram. Aramaic
Bret. Breton
Dan. Danish
Ariz. Arizona
B.T. Babylonian Talmud
D.B. Divinitatis Baccalaureus,
Ark. Arkansas
Bulg. Bulgarian
Bachelor of Divinity
Arm. Armenian
Burm. Burmese
D.C. District of Columbia
art. article (pl., arts.)
c. circa, about, approximately
D.D. Divinitatis Doctor, Doctor of
AS Anglo-Saxon
Calif. California
Asm. Mos. Assumption of Moses
Can. Canaanite
Del. Delaware
Assyr. Assyrian
Catal. Catalan
Dem. DemaDi
A.S.S.R. Autonomous Soviet Socialist
CE of the common era
dim. diminutive
Celt. Celtic
diss. dissertation
Av. Avestan
cf. confer, compare
Dn. Daniel
EA.Z. EAvodah zarah
Chald. Chaldean
D.Phil. Doctor of Philosophy
b. born
chap. chapter (pl., chaps.)
Dt. Deuteronomy
Bab. Babylonian
Chin. Chinese
Du. Dutch
Ban. Bantu
C.H.M. Community of the Holy
E Elohist (source of the Pentateuch)
1 Bar. 1 Baruch
Eccl. Ecclesiastes
2 Bar. 2 Baruch
1 Chr. 1 Chronicles
ed. editor (pl., eds.); edition; edited by

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EEduy. EEduyyot
Hung. Hungarian
Lith. Lithuanian
e.g. exempli gratia, for example
ibid. ibidem, in the same place (as the
Lk. Luke
Egyp. Egyptian
one immediately preceding)
LL Late Latin
1 En. 1 Enoch
Icel. Icelandic
LL.D. Legum Doctor, Doctor of Laws
2 En. 2 Enoch
i.e. id est, that is
Lv. Leviticus
3 En. 3 Enoch
IE Indo-European
m meters
Eng. English
Ill. Illinois
m. masculine
enl. enlarged
Ind. Indiana
M.A. Master of Arts
Eph. Ephesians
intro. introduction
Ma Eas. MaEaserot
EEruv. EEruvin
Ir. Gael. Irish Gaelic
Ma Eas. Sh. MaE aser sheni
1 Esd. 1 Esdras
Iran. Iranian
Mak. Makkot
2 Esd. 2 Esdras
Is. Isaiah
Makh. Makhshirin
3 Esd. 3 Esdras
Ital. Italian
Mal. Malachi
4 Esd. 4 Esdras
J Yahvist (source of the Pentateuch)
Mar. Marathi
esp. especially
Jas. James
Mass. Massachusetts
Est. Estonian
Jav. Javanese
1 Mc. 1 Maccabees
Est. Esther
Jb. Job
2 Mc. 2 Maccabees
et al. et alii, and others
Jdt. Judith
3 Mc. 3 Maccabees
etc. et cetera, and so forth
Jer. Jeremiah
4 Mc. 4 Maccabees
Eth. Ethiopic
Jgs. Judges
Md. Maryland
EV English version
Jl. Joel
M.D. Medicinae Doctor, Doctor of
Ex. Exodus
Jn. John
exp. expanded
1 Jn. 1 John
ME Middle English
Ez. Ezekiel
2 Jn. 2 John
Meg. Megillah
Ezr. Ezra
3 Jn. 3 John
Me Eil. MeEilah
2 Ezr. 2 Ezra
Jon. Jonah
Men. Menah.ot
4 Ezr. 4 Ezra
Jos. Joshua
MHG Middle High German
f. feminine; and following (pl., ff.)
Jpn. Japanese
mi. miles
fasc. fascicle (pl., fascs.)
JPS Jewish Publication Society trans-
Mi. Micah
fig. figure (pl., figs.)
lation (1985) of the Hebrew Bible
Mich. Michigan
Finn. Finnish
J.T. Jerusalem Talmud
Mid. Middot
fl. floruit, flourished
Jub. Jubilees
Minn. Minnesota
Fla. Florida
Kans. Kansas
Miq. MiqvaDot
Fr. French
Kel. Kelim
MIran. Middle Iranian
frag. fragment
Ker. Keritot
Miss. Mississippi
ft. feet
Ket. Ketubbot
Mk. Mark
Ga. Georgia
1 Kgs. 1 Kings
Mo. Missouri
Gal. Galatians
2 Kgs. 2 Kings
MoEed Q. MoEed qat.an
Gaul. Gaulish
Khois. Khoisan
Mont. Montana
Ger. German
Kil. Kil Dayim
MPers. Middle Persian
Git.. Git.t.in
km kilometers
MS. manuscriptum, manuscript (pl.,
Gn. Genesis
Kor. Korean
Gr. Greek
Ky. Kentucky
Mt. Matthew
. ag. H
. agigah
l. line (pl., ll.)
MT Masoretic text
. al. H
. allah
La. Louisiana
n. note
Hau. Hausa
Lam. Lamentations
Na. Nahum
Hb. Habakkuk
Lat. Latin
Nah. Nahuatl
Heb. Hebrew
Latv. Latvian
Naz. Nazir
Heb. Hebrews
L. en Th. Licencié en Théologie,
N.B. nota bene, take careful note
Hg. Haggai
Licentiate in Theology
N.C. North Carolina
Hitt. Hittite
L. ès L. Licencié ès Lettres, Licentiate
n.d. no date
Hor. Horayot
in Literature
N.Dak. North Dakota
Hos. Hosea
Let. Jer. Letter of Jeremiah
NEB New English Bible
. ul. H
. ullin
lit. literally
Nebr. Nebraska
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Ned. Nedarim
pop. population
sp. species (pl., spp.)
Neg. Nega Eim
Port. Portuguese
Span. Spanish
Neh. Nehemiah
Prv. Proverbs
sq. square
Nev. Nevada
Ps. Psalms
S.S.R. Soviet Socialist Republic
N.H. New Hampshire
Ps. 151 Psalm 151
st. stanza (pl., ss.)
Nid. Niddah
Ps. Sol. Psalms of Solomon
S.T.M. Sacrae Theologiae Magister,
N.J. New Jersey
pt. part (pl., pts.)
Master of Sacred Theology
Nm. Numbers
1Pt. 1 Peter
Suk. Sukkah
N.Mex. New Mexico
2 Pt. 2 Peter
Sum. Sumerian
no. number (pl., nos.)
Pth. Parthian
supp. supplement; supplementary
Nor. Norwegian
Q hypothetical source of the synoptic
Sus. Susanna
n.p. no place
s.v. sub verbo, under the word (pl.,
n.s. new series
Qid. Qiddushin
N.Y. New York
Qin. Qinnim
Swed. Swedish
Ob. Obadiah
r. reigned; ruled
Syr. Syriac
O.Cist. Ordo Cisterciencium, Order
Rab. Rabbah
Syr. Men. Syriac Menander
of Cîteaux (Cistercians)
rev. revised
TaE an. TaEanit
OCS Old Church Slavonic
R. ha-Sh. RoDsh ha-shanah
Tam. Tamil
OE Old English
R.I. Rhode Island
Tam. Tamid
O.F.M. Ordo Fratrum Minorum,
Rom. Romanian
Tb. Tobit
Order of Friars Minor
Rom. Romans
T.D. Taisho¯ shinshu¯ daizo¯kyo¯, edited
R.S.C.J. Societas Sacratissimi Cordis
by Takakusu Junjiro¯ et al.
OFr. Old French
Jesu, Religious of the Sacred Heart
Ohal. Ohalot
RSV Revised Standard Version of the
Tem. Temurah
OHG Old High German
Tenn. Tennessee
OIr. Old Irish
Ru. Ruth
Ter. Terumot
OIran. Old Iranian
Rus. Russian
. ev. Y. T
. evul yom
Okla. Oklahoma
Rv. Revelation
Tex. Texas
ON Old Norse
Rv. Ezr. Revelation of Ezra
Th.D. Theologicae Doctor, Doctor of
O.P. Ordo Praedicatorum, Order of
San. Sanhedrin
Preachers (Dominicans)
S.C. South Carolina
1 Thes. 1 Thessalonians
OPers. Old Persian
Scot. Gael. Scottish Gaelic
2 Thes. 2 Thessalonians
op. cit. opere citato, in the work cited
S.Dak. South Dakota
Thrac. Thracian
OPrus. Old Prussian
sec. section (pl., secs.)
Ti. Titus
Oreg. Oregon
Sem. Semitic
Tib. Tibetan
EOrl. EOrlah
ser. series
1 Tm. 1 Timothy
O.S.B. Ordo Sancti Benedicti, Order
sg. singular
2 Tm. 2 Timothy
of Saint Benedict (Benedictines)
Sg. Song of Songs
T. of 12 Testaments of the Twelve
p. page (pl., pp.)
Sg. of 3 Prayer of Azariah and the
P Priestly (source of the Pentateuch)
Song of the Three Young Men
. oh. t.ohorot
Pa. Pennsylvania
Shab. Shabbat
Tong. Tongan
Pahl. Pahlavi
Shav. ShavuEot
trans. translator, translators; translated
Par. Parah
Sheq. Sheqalim
by; translation
para. paragraph (pl., paras.)
Sib. Or. Sibylline Oracles
Turk. Turkish
Pers. Persian
Sind. Sindhi
Ukr. Ukrainian
Pes. Pesahim
Sinh. Sinhala
Upan. Upanis.ad
Ph.D. Philosophiae Doctor, Doctor
Sir. Ben Sira
U.S. United States
of Philosophy
S.J. Societas Jesu, Society of Jesus
U.S.S.R. Union of Soviet Socialist
Phil. Philippians
Phlm. Philemon
Skt. Sanskrit
Uqts. Uqtsin
Phoen. Phoenician
1 Sm. 1 Samuel
v. verse (pl., vv.)
pl. plural; plate (pl., pls.)
2 Sm. 2 Samuel
Va. Virginia
PM post meridiem, after noon
Sogd. Sogdian
var. variant; variation
Pol. Polish
Sot.. Sot.ah
Viet. Vietnamese
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viz. videlicet, namely
Yad. Yadayim
* hypothetical
vol. volume (pl., vols.)
Yev. Yevamot
? uncertain; possibly; perhaps
Vt. Vermont
Yi. Yiddish
° degrees
Wash. Washington
Yor. Yoruba
+ plus
Wel. Welsh
Zav. Zavim
Wis. Wisconsin
Zec. Zechariah
= equals; is equivalent to
Wis. Wisdom of Solomon
Zep. Zephaniah
× by; multiplied by
W.Va. West Virginia
Zev. Zevah.im
→ yields
Wyo. Wyoming
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

v o l u m e f o u r
a c r e d m a t
S t
A e
C R r
Understandings of matter, of the physical, obdurate objects
that make up the everyday world, vary considerably among
religions. Matter is sometimes regarded as evil or void of real being, sometimes as
infused with spiritual realities that animate it. In other traditions, matter and spirit
are inextricably joined and the idea of a dualist split between the two is inconceivable.
Likewise, the experience of matter as sacred varies from the idea of holy substance,
to consecrated matter, to objects sacred to memory, to objects that are morally useful
but in no manner sacred in the sense of being infused with an intrinsic power. But in
every case the power or use ascribed to natural or artificial objects is inseparable from
the cultural webs of meaning-making that invest them with the power to signify. It
is in this sense that sacred matter of whatever kind helps construct the life-worlds of
those who harness its power by using objects in their rites and ceremonies.

Perhaps the root of sacred matter in many if not all religions is the physical
remains of saints, heroes, and found-
ers. Bones, teeth, and hair endure far
beyond the decay of flesh and viscera
and are commonly prized as the material
trace of the saint’s existence. These items
become relics when they are recognized
as the locus of spiritual power and pres-
ence, and they therefore offer access to
the holy figure for the sake of blessing.
In many religions holy men and women
are thought to acquire such an excess of
merit that it forms a reservoir that may
be accessed by prayer in the presence of
the saint’s relics. The relic becomes part
of a metaphysical economy in which
(a) Svayambhūnāth Stupa, west of Kathman-
du, Nepal, during a celebration of the birth,
enlightenment, and death of the Buddha.
[©Macduff Everton/Corbis]
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blessing is procured by pilgrimage, prayer, or penitential
deed or offering. Within a few centuries of the Buddha’s
death a cult of relics of his body formed in India and
Sri Lanka and moved with the faith as it spread north
and south across Asia. The relics were placed in funerary
mounds called stupas (a) and in portable shrines designed
like stupas (b). Stupas became major sites for local as
well as international pilgrimage and were eventually sur-
rounded by temple and monastery complexes and towns.
Pilgrimage and relic veneration built their metaphysical
economy over the commercial economies of local and far-
flung populations, offering material well-being to crafts-
men, townspeople, and religious communities.

The veneration of relics likely originates in devotion
to the deceased at the graveside and in the dynamics of
proselytism as religions spread to new regions, where the
convert’s need for shrines and access to the founder and
other saints is fueled by competition with indigenous rival
religions. In the case of Roman Catholicism, the practice
(b) LEFT. Portable Buddhist shrine, thirteenth century, bronze,
Thailand or Cambodia. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift
of Enid Haupt, 1993. (1993.387.7a-d) [Photograph ©2001 The
Metropolitan Museum of Art]
(c) B OTTOM.
Etruscan sarcophagus
made of carved travertine, from a tomb in Cerveteri, Italy, late
fifth century bce. [©Scala/Art Resource, N.Y.]
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of relic veneration was energized by the cult of martyrs
during the first centuries of the church’s existence. But
there is reason to believe that the cult of relics built on
the ancient practice of ancestral worship and prayer to the
dead to secure blessing in the present. Long before Roman
Catholicism existed, inhabitants of the central Italian
peninsula, the Etruscans, practiced an elaborate form of
funerary cult in which the dead were interred in figural
sarcophagi (c) in underground tombs carved as domestic
interiors that collectively formed part of an ever-expand-
ing necropolis, or city of the dead. The catacombs beneath
Rome are their descendents.

Gothic cathedrals, much of the art, and many of
the liturgical items of the later medieval Catholic Mass
functioned as reliquaries to house the sacred items that
had become especially important to European Christians,
including the relics pilfered during the Crusades in Pales-
tine and the Byzantine world. The bodily suffering and
vindication of Jesus became the focal point of many dif-
ferent devotions, both cloistered and lay. Religious leaders
and monastic orders endorsed devotion to saints and their
relics and to the Eucharist. Elaborate monstrances (d) dis-
played the host or relics of Mary or other saints in crystal
chambers housed in structures that depicted the church.
Portions of the “true cross” were avidly collected in the
Holy Land and brought back to cathedrals and chapels in
Europe for veneration.
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Objects can also become sacred by ritual prepara-
tion, when spiritual power comes to reside in them. Such
objects may be found or manufactured. Vodou and its
West African precursor Vodun consist of ritual practices
that are designed to solve problems of spiritual malevo-
lence caused by one’s misdeeds or the harmful intentions
of another. Shamans or priests and priestesses are able to
invest objects with a counteractive power (e), or to enter
trances or perform libations at altars (f ). Another Carib-
bean religion that originated in West Africa, Santería,
fashions beautiful garments (g) for initiates and practitio-
ners to wear when they are ritually transfigured into an
orisha, one of the spirits of natural forces, such as thunder,
fresh water, or the sea. The garments are worn only a few
times, including during consecration as a priest and at
one’s burial.

Like the performative garment, masks are a familiar
aspect of African and Oceanic as well as some Native
(e) TOP. A Fon bocio figure, a Vodou protective object, made
of wood, hide, fiber, cowrie shell, and cord, southern Benin.
[©Werner Forman/Art Resource, N.Y.]
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American religions. The mask and the costume it accom-
panies assume a sacred power and are kept by their owner,
and even handed down among family members. The mask
reproduced here (h) was worn by the Nootka people on
Vancouver Island in dances in the spring and fall to invoke
ancestral spirits. The founding myth of the group related
that they descended from a family of eagles that flew from
heaven and transformed themselves into human beings
when they arrived. Accordingly, during the ceremonial
dance the eagle mask transforms into a human face that
is contained within. The annual performance of the rite
connects the people with their primordial origins.
(g) RIGHT. Sequined taffeta garment for wear by a male Santería
initiate. [Photograph by Ysamur Flores-Peña] (h) BELOW. A Nootka
transformation mask, used in reenactments of the community’s
primordial origins, 1890s, feathers and wood, Vancouver
Island, British Columbia. [©The Field Museum;
photograph by John Weinstein]
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(i) Jewish worshipers parade Torah scrolls at the Western Wall in

But for some religions the idea of a spiritual energy
Jerusalem. [©Peter Guttman/Corbis]
inhering in material forms is repugnant because it confuses
the divine with the merely phenomenal. Some Christians,
Jews, and Muslims, as well as Sikhs and some Hindus and
Buddhists, maintain that objects and rituals are merely
convenient and time-honored forms of commemoration
and the useful expression of devotion and communal soli-
darity. The very idea of sacred matter, substance endowed
with power, conflicts with the stark distinction of spirit
and matter of some religions, or the radical transcendence
of the divine among others. For many Jews, for instance,
liturgical objects (i) are prized for their association with
orthopraxy, with strict adherence to the liturgical calendar
and its prescription of ceremony. Some Christians, such
as those of the Anabaptist and Puritan traditions, do not
consecrate objects for use in worship spaces, and indeed,
may not even set aside spaces to be exclusively used for
worship. Any such privileging of objects threatens idola-
try, the confusion of the divine with a created or material

Yet even within these traditions material forms can
acquire a powerful quality that imbues their visual display
with a meaning that is not merely symbolic, such as the
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display of the Torah scroll in Jerusalem (i). For other
(j) Crystals, rocks, and statuary deposited at the center of a laby-
religious traditions, material forms are an integral part
rinth in northwestern Indiana. [Photograph by David Morgan]
of evoking divine power and communicating with forces
that transcend the human sphere. Often these forms are
found objects, as in the case of the rocks left by visitors to
labyrinths (j) or other sacred spaces important to earth-
centered spiritualities. Crystals are believed by many to
possess healing powers in their vibrational energy, which
is transferred to humans in therapies of placing stones
on the body at the chakras, the seven centers of energy
derived from yogic teaching.

Other powers are attributed to stones by priests and
users. Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism, used a seer
stone, a small, brightly colored, perforated stone, in his
practice of divining, looking for hidden treasures buried
in the New York landscape. Smith is said to have claimed
that possession of one such stone gave him the divine
power of the all-seeing eye. He used the seer stones that
he possessed to search for buried money, but it was on one
such quest that he found the golden plates that he claimed
were the source of the Book of Mormon.

Managing the sacred power of objects occupies a
good deal of attention and ritual practice. Since they are
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the locus of power, the objects must be stored properly
and carefully prepared for use and display. Often, as in
the case of the Australian Aboriginal sacred stone called
tjurunga (k), the object is kept from sight except when
in ritual use since it embodies the totemic spirits of its
owner and serves as the dwelling of creator spirits. The
sacred stones are displayed during initiations and are
used by elders to relate traditions to those undergoing
initiation. Hindu priests dedicate themselves to the daily
preparation of the stone lingam of Śiva (l) at temples
around the world, where they ritually bathe the ancient
stone in honey, milk, or fragrant water before covering it
with a dress and mask in order for its presentation to the
Brooke, John L. The Refiner’s Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmol-
ogy, 1644–1844. New York, 1994.
Cosentino, Donald J., ed. Sacred Arts of Haitian Vodou. Los Ange-
les, 1995.
Fitzhugh, William W., and Valérie Chaussonnet, eds. Anthropology
of the North Pacific Rim. Washington, D.C., 1994.
Flores-Peña, Ysamur, and Roberta J. Evanchuk. Santería Garments
and Altars: Speaking without a Voice. Jackson, Miss., 1994.
Pike, Sarah M. Earthly Bodies, Magical Selves: Contemporary
Pagans and the Search for Community. Berkeley, 2001.
Trainor, Kevin. Relics, Ritual, and Representation in Buddhism:
(k) TOP. A 34-inch stone tjurunga with linear incisions,
Rematerializing the Sri Lankan Theravada Tradition. Cam-
found in Australia before 1935. [Masco Collection; photograph by
bridge, U.K., 1997.
Dirk Baker] (l) ABOVE. A brāhman.a priest bathes an ancient
David Morgan ()
stone symbol of Śiva in Mamallapuram, Tamil Nadu, India.
[©Photograph by Stephen P. Huyler]
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DACIAN RIDERS. The so-called Dacian Riders were associated with a mystery reli-
gion of the Getae and the Dacians, peoples of Thracian stock who lived in ancient Dacia
(roughly equivalent to modern-day Romania). The cult of the Dacian, or Danubian, Rid-
ers began to spread among Roman soldiers soon after 106 CE, when Dacia was conquered
by Trajan and made a province of the Roman Empire. Traces of the cult have been found
as far away as the Roman provinces of Gaul and Britain.
Numerous reliefs and gems depicting the Dacian Riders are extant. Of the 232 items
catalogued by Dumitru Tudor (1969–1976), 60 were found in Dacia, 24 in Moesia Supe-
rior, 34 in Moesia Inferior, 47 in Pannonia Inferior, and 25 in Pannonia Superior. Most
of the Dacian reliefs are made of marble. They were copied on a large scale in lead, a very
expensive material whose use can be explained only by the magical purposes for which
the images of the Dacian Riders were intended. Of the 90 lead copies extant, 44 were
found in Pannonia Inferior.
The most ancient reliefs show only one horseman, whose iconography was influenced
by that of the Thracian Rider. Later monuments show two riders at either side of a god-
dess whose principal symbolic attribute is a fish. Of the 31 pieces belonging to the one-
horseman type, 18 were found in Dacia. The two-horseman type belongs to the later peri-
od of this cult, which flourished in the third century CE and declined in the fourth.
Besides the two horsemen and the goddess with a fish, the iconography of the monu-
ments includes prostrated characters, attendants, and various symbols, such as the sun,
the moon, stars, and numerous animals (including the ram, dog, lion, eagle, peacock,
raven, cock, snake, and sometimes even the bull). Scholarly identifications of the goddess
are widely divergent. The two horsemen have been identified with the Dioscuri by some
scholars and with the Cabiri brothers by others. The Greek iconography of the Dioscuri
has had a particular impact on that of the Dacian Riders, but all these scholarly hypotheses
are more or less fanciful.
It is likely that certain beliefs and practices, borrowed especially from Mithraism,
were added to a local Dacian cult and that these borrowings changed the cult into a mys-
C LOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT CORNER. Women dance with skeletons in a fifteenth-century woodcut of
the Dance of Death. [©Bettmann/Corbis]; Seventeenth-century Chinese nobleman’s badge
depicting a dragon-like beast. [©Art Resource, N.Y.]; Demeter hands Triptolemos a sheaf of
corn in a fifth-century BCE Greek relief depicting the creation of agriculture. National
Archaeological Museum, Athens. [©Erich Lessing/Art Resource, N.Y.]; Laozi riding a water
buffalo, circa 960–1280. [©Burstein Collection/Corbis]; Ruins of Tholos Temple at Delphi,
Greece. [©Wolfgang Kaehler/Corbis] .

tery religion. Although the myth of the Danubian Riders re-
DADDY GRACE. Charles M. “Daddy” (1881–1960)
mains unknown, it is safe to state that it was based on some
Grace was the founder of the United House of Prayer for All
Dacian beliefs not shared by the Thracians south of the Dan-
People of the Church on the Rock of the Apostolic Faith.
ube. The two horsemen and the goddess were probably sup-
A combination of Daddy Grace’s grandiosity, his followers’
posed to establish a link between three cosmic layers (heaven,
intense devotion, and popular confusion between Grace and
earth, and underworld), as the partition of the reliefs into
the controversial Father Divine caused outsiders to be skepti-
three registers seems to suggest.
cal of the church for decades. After Grace’s death, new lead-
Only three degrees of initiation were present in the mys-
ership made superficial changes that allowed the United
teries of the Dacian Riders: Aries (“ram”), Miles (“soldier”),
House of Prayer to move away from its marginal status and
and Leo (“lion”). The first two were placed under the influ-
closer to the American religious mainstream. Early in the
ence of the planet Mars, the last one under the influence of
twenty-first century, its long-term stability invites an appre-
the sun. If we interpret the numerous animals depicted in
ciation of the strength of the institutional foundations de-
the reliefs of the Danubian Riders as astrological entities,
signed and laid by Grace.
then we may surmise that the symbolism of this mystery reli-
Daddy Grace was born Marceline Manuel DaGraca on
gion was fairly complicated. Inscriptions are unusually scarce
the island of Brava, Cape Verde (at that time a Portuguese
in number, short (especially those on gems), and indecipher-
territory), off the northwest coast of Africa. With his parents
able. Initiates in the mysteries identified their grade by
and four siblings, Grace immigrated to Massachusetts at the
badges and seals; for example, a gem of unknown provenance
turn of the twentieth century. In his first years in the New
bears as its inscription the single word leon. In all probability,
Bedford area, Grace held odd jobs such as picking cranber-
sacrifice of a ram played an important part in these mysteries.
ries, dishwashing, and selling patent medicines. During this
time he also Americanized his surname and began using the
SEE ALSO Thracian Rider.
first name Charles. Grace had two brief marriages, from
which one daughter and two sons were produced. He died
from heart ailments at the age of seventy-eight.
On the Dacian Riders, see the excellent work of Dumitru Tudor,
Grace was baptized Roman Catholic in Brava, but his
Corpus monumentorum religionis equitum Danuvinorum, 2
religious calling in the United States led him to Protestant
vols. (Leiden, 1969–1976). Volume 1, The Monuments,
forms of worship, particularly the holiness movement. His
translated by Eve Harris and John R. Harris, is a detailed cat-
alog; volume 2, The Analysis and Interpretation of the Monu-
early attempts to start a church were unsuccessful. He found
ments, translated by Christopher Holme, is a thorough sur-
himself rejected from the pulpit of a Massachusetts Nazarene
vey of scholarly theories concerning the mysteries.
church and was unable to gain a following in southern states
despite extensive travels in his “Gospel Car.” Grace finally
New Sources
met with success when he returned to Wareham, Massachu-
Alexandrescu, Petre. “L’oiseau unicorne, Introduction à
setts, opening his first House of Prayer in 1919, with himself
l’iconologie thrace.” Comptes rendues de l’Académie
d’Inscriptions et Belles Lettres
(1993): 725–745. As well as the
as bishop.
Dacian Rider, the god with the unicorn bird was an impor-
Grace’s church grew quickly in its first two decades,
tant presence in the Getan pantheon.
spreading both south and west to over a dozen states. Regard-
“Heros Equitans.” In Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classi-
less of its growth, the church was commonly perceived as an
cae (LIMC), vol. 6, 1–2. Zürich and Munich, 1992,
invalid organization in which the leader exploited the work-
pp. 1019–1081. Various specialists examine the iconography
ing-class membership for profit. Journalists attempted to
of the heroic horseman, including full lists of the monuments
make a mockery of the bishop because his flamboyant per-
and the related illustrations. See especially the chapter on
sonal style made for good press. Not only did he have long
“Les Cavaliers Danubiens,” pp. 1078–1081, providing a re-
hair, painted fingernails, suits of bright colors, and jewels on
appraisal of the relevant religious-historical issues.
his wrists and fingers, but he also traveled with an entourage
Sanie, Silvin. “Kulte und Glauben im römischen Süden der Mol-
that included a chauffeur, bodyguards, and occasionally law-
dau (Ostrumänien).” In Aufstieg und Niedergang der römisc-
yers and other assistants. Grace’s visibility as a man of means
hen Welt I, vol. II, 18, 2. Berlin and New York, 1989,
and power was certainly one element of the House of Prayer’s
pp. 1272–1316. See especially pp. 1294–1296, dealing with
early growth, but it also contributed to outsiders’ skepticism.
the Dacian Rider and its mystery cult guaranteeing immor-
The United House of Prayer, though remaining nonde-
nominational during Grace’s lifetime, is squarely in the Pen-
tecostal tradition. It is charismatic by nature, and Grace’s
Revised Bibliography
theological teachings were based on the ideas of one God,
one faith, one baptism, and one leader. Although popular
lore holds that Grace claimed to be God, evidence demon-
strates that this is a misconstruction. Instead, the church’s
theology focuses on the coming of the end-time and the im-
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

portance of church leadership in helping to prepare. Worship
bishop of the multimillion dollar organization that included
services include demonstrations of the gifts of the holy spirit,
approximately one hundred Houses of Prayer nationwide.
as well as music led by their popular brass shout bands. The
Under McCollough, congregants’ attention was turned to is-
House of Prayer’s traditions, including annual festive convo-
sues of social justice, and church investments expanded to
cations and group baptisms (first on beaches, later by fire
include projects that were of direct benefit to members, such
hose in the streets) added to its visibility during Grace’s
as affordable housing and scholarship programs. McCol-
reign. There has long been an emphasis on member partici-
lough’s less ostentatious style of leadership helped move the
pation in church auxiliaries, which once included such clubs
House of Prayer closer to the mainstream of African Ameri-
as the Grace Flower Girls, the Grace Willing Workers Club,
can religion. Just as it was under Daddy Grace, the church
the Grace Gospel Choir, the Grace Soul Hunters, and the
today continues as a thriving, forward-thinking organization
Grace Soldiers. Beyond the church, members are expected
that provides an example of the harmonious mix of other-
to conduct themselves with conservative behavior, and are
worldly theology with present-world practicality.
encouraged to read and understand the Bible.
Grace was the figurehead of the church, supported by
Brune, Danielle E. “Sweet Daddy Grace: The Life and Times of
a vast number of individual ministers and a set of General
a Modern Day Prophet.” Ph.D. diss., University of Texas,
Council Laws prescribing overall operations. Grace was not
Austin, 2002. A cultural biography of Grace that offers par-
accountable to anyone, and likewise the many ministers op-
ticularly good treatment of the early years of his church
erating under him had a large degree of independence in
and a critical analysis of popular misconceptions about his
their practices and teachings. After opening each new church
or mission, Grace’s involvement with individual Houses of
Damon, Sherri Marcia. “The Trombone in the Shout Band of the
Prayer was primarily based on financial management. Origi-
United House of Prayer for All People.” Ph.D. diss., Univer-
nally, Grace performed healings, but in time he encouraged
sity of North Carolina, Greensboro, 1999. A history of the
people to believe they would heal because of their faith rather
use of the trombone in the shout bands of the United House
than because of his direct touch. As he aged, Grace took de-
of Prayer for All People.
creasing roles in religious services, though he frequently trav-
Davis, Lenwood G. Daddy Grace: An Annotated Bibliography.
eled to make church appearances. His sermons and other
New York, 1992. This bibliography provides a sketch of
speaking roles were not as important as his mere presence at
many noteworthy incidents and other highlights of the
church events, and as a result very few records of his sermons
church’s history during the time of Grace’s bishopric.
have been preserved.
Fauset, Arthur Huff. Black Gods of the Metropolis: Negro Religious
Grace’s innovative investments and business ventures al-
Cults of the Urban North. Philadelphia, 1944. This early
lowed the church to flourish, and this is where his genius was
source includes a chapter on the House of Prayer based on
put to best use. Though often perceived by outsiders as using
the author’s doctoral fieldwork, and compares it to other
marginalized African American churches of that time period.
his working-class followers’ donations for his own ends,
Grace quietly used the money to build a wealthy corporate
Hodges, John O. “Charles Manuel ‘Sweet Daddy’ Grace.” In
empire for the church. The church offered a pension fund
Twentieth-Century Shapers of American Popular Religion, ed-
for ministers and elderly members, as well as a small insur-
ited by Charles Lippy, pp. 170–179. New York, 1989. A
short and pithy essay on the history of the church and Grace
ance plan. It owned several manufacturing businesses that
generated revenue for the church corporation. Grace increas-
ingly invested in real estate. For example, when he first
Robinson, John W. “A Song, a Shout, and a Prayer.” In The Black
opened a House of Prayer in Harlem in 1938, Grace pur-
Experience in Religion, edited by C. Eric Lincoln,
chased the headquarters of Father Divine’s Peace Mission
pp. 212–235. Garden City, N.Y., 1974. A detailed essay on
the House of Prayer including information about its changes
Movement and evicted them. This building was one of the
after Grace’s death; intended as an update to Fauset’s work.
first pieces of a trophy real estate collection that grew to in-
clude the El Dorado on Central Park West, two apartment
buildings in the Sugar Hill neighborhood, a large swath of
property on 125th Street in Harlem, and other mansions,
apartment buildings, and businesses in places as varied as Los
Angeles, Philadelphia, Detroit, Newport News, Washington
(Daga¯n) was a West Semitic god, well known in
D.C., and Havana, Cuba.
ancient Syria and ancient Palestine. He is mentioned in texts
from Ebla (Tell Mard¯ıh, in Northern Syria) dating to the
Following Grace’s death in January 1960, the church
mid-third millennium BCE, in which his name occurs as part
experienced confusion over questions of succession to the
of theophoric anthroponyms with the element Da-gan or
bishopric and the extent of church assets. Several issues had
Da-ga-an. The logographic abbreviation BE (for b¯elum/
to be resolved by the courts, and at least one splinter group
ba Ealum; lord) also occurs in texts from Ebla—both as part
formed. When the dust cleared, “Sweet Daddy” Walter Mc-
of personal names and independently as a deity present in
Collough (1915–1991) of Washington, D.C., was elected
diverse Syrian and Northern Mesopotamian towns. This BE
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

has frequently been identified with Dagan. However, BE is
tive role. On the other hand, in the ritual texts from Ugarit,
most likely a divine epithet, which refers to Dagan only in
Dagan is frequently mentioned and plays an important role.
some specific cases, primarily the BE of Tuttul (i.e., “the
ETYMOLOGY. In all these third and second millennium texts,
Lord of Tuttul” refers to Dagan), modern Tell B¯ıEa, on the
Dagan appears as father of the gods and, along with his con-
Bal¯ıh River. Outside Ebla, and also during the second half
sort, Shalash, he belongs to the earliest generation of gods
of the third millennium, Dagan is attested in texts from Mari
in the Syrian pantheon. In the first millennium, Dagan’s
(Tell H:ar¯ıri, Southern Syria), which had a temple devoted
name occurs as Dagon (Da¯gôn) in the biblical historical nar-
to this god, probably built toward the end of the third mil-
ratives (with an expected to shift), in which he is designat-
lennium, and Tell Beydar in the region of the upper Ha¯bu¯r
ed a Philistine deity, with temples dedicated to him in Ash-
River. The mentions of the “King” of Terqa in early Mari
dod, Gaza, and probably Beth-Shan (1 Sm. 5:1–7; Jgs. 16:23;
documents also refer to Dagan (dlugal Terqa, with the divine
1 Chr. 10:10; 1 Mac. 10: 83–84, 11:4).
determinative d refers to DINGIR preceding the Sumerian
word for king, lugal). In all these pre-Sargonic Syro-
Traditionally, three different Semitic etymologies of this
Mesopotamian texts (i.e., prior to c. 2340
theonym have been proposed: (1) the root *dg (fish), which
BCE), the only
clear attestations of Dagan are in personal names.
appeared already in Saint Jerome, the Talmud, and else-
where, but which is now regarded as a folk etymology by
SARGONIC AND UR III PERIODS. During the Sargonic (c.
most scholars; (2) the root *dgn (grain; da¯ga¯n), with the ex-
2340–2113 BCE) and Ur III periods (c. 2113–2004 BCE),
pected fertility implications, but which works only in West
Dagan appears in royal inscriptions of Mesopotamian kings,
Semitic and is likely to also be a folk etymology; and (3) the
but always in a Syrian context and especially in personal
root *dgn (cloudy, rainy), also bearing somehow a fertility
names, as in previous periods. The only autochthonous Syri-
an mention of Dagan during these periods comes from a
Mari inscription, in which he appears along with two proper-
The latter possibility is not immediately evident, be-
ly Mesopotamian deities, Ishtar and Enki. In the Old Baby-
cause the Semitic root in question (*dgn) would seem to
lonian period (first half of the second millennium
mean “cloudy, rainy” only in Arabic. Nonetheless, there is
BCE), the
figure of Dagan emerges as the most important deity in the
a related root in Syriac (a Christian Aramaic dialect) that oc-
pantheon of the Middle Euphrates region, and his name is
curs in a verb meaning “to be blind, to have blurry eyes”
abundantly attested in letters from Old Babylonian Mari, as
(dgen, with intransitive vocalization) and in nouns referring
well as documents from Terqa and Tuttul. Both at Mari and
to ophthalmic maladies and blindness. The Arabic verb da-
at Aleppo, Dagan appears as the recipient of funerary offer-
jana means primarily “to be dusky, gloomy,” as in dujna/
ings. Moreover, he plays a role in prophecies and divination,
dujunna (darkness) and adjan (dark). Nonetheless, Arabic
especially extispicy (observation of the entrails of sacrificial
exhibits occurrences of this root referring to rain or rainy
animals). As in previous periods, Dagan is widely attested in
conditions (dajn; heavy rain) and the Syriac cognate (degna¯,
theophoric personal names from the Middle and Upper Eu-
dega¯na¯) has a distinctive secondary but frequent meaning
phrates regions, as well as the Ha¯bu¯r area.
concerning snow (packed snow).
Based on the problems posed by the aforementioned Se-
IDDLE BABYLONIAN PERIOD. In the Middle Babylonian
period (second half of the second millennium
mitic etymologies and the association of Dagan to the earth,
BCE), Dagan
is particularly well represented in texts from two Late Bronze
an Indo-European etymology has been proposed for this
sites: Emar (modern Tell Meskene), on the Middle Euphra-
theonym: *dhehom (earth), as in Sanskrit kam, Greek khtho¯n
tes, and Ugarit (Ras Shamra) on the Syrian Mediterranean
(with metathesis), Latin humus (and probably also homo; ter-
coast. In texts from Emar and smaller neighboring towns in-
restrial, human being), Tocharian tkam:, Hittite tegan (geni-
cluding Ekalte and Azu, along with the customary syllabic
tive taknaˇs), and perhaps even part of the name of the god-
spelling of the name (Da-gan), one finds the logogram
dess Demeter (D¯em¯et¯er *Gdan-mát¯er, with *gd *ghdh *dheh).
dKUR, the determinative for divine names followed by the
As in most etymologies of proper names, tentative and specu-
logogram KUR (mountain; land). This spelling may be an
lative by nature, it is difficult to rule out this Indo-European
abbreviation of the epithet dkur-gal (The Great Mountain),
hypothesis. Such an etymology would also match the possi-
but it may also point to a chthonic nature of Dagan. The
ble linguistic identity of the Philistines.
latter might be associated with a possible Indo-European ety-
mology and with Dagan’s funerary offerings. The most im-
portant religious festival in Late Bronze Emar, the zukru fes-
On Dagan in general, see Lluís Feliu, The God Dagan in Bronze
tival (related to the Semitic root *zkr; to call, recall) was
Age Syria (Leiden, 2003) and Bradley L. Crowell, “The De-
velopment of Dagan: A Sketch,” Journal of Ancient Near
devoted to Dagan. Dagan also played an important role in
Eastern Religions 1 (2001): 32–83. On Dagan at Ebla, see
most Emar rituals, as his temple seems to have been the epi-
Francesco Pomponio and Paolo Xella, Les dieux d’Ebla
center of religious life in that city. An important corpus of
(Münster, 1997). For Dagan at Tuttul, see Manfred Kreb-
mythological and epic narratives exists from Ugarit, in which
ernik, Ausgrabungen in Tall Bi Ea/Tuttul, II: Die altorientalisc-
Dagan is attested only in epithets of other gods (e.g, Ba⊂lu
hen Schriftfunde (Saarbrücken, Germany, 2001). On Dagan
is “the son of Dagan”) and in oblique references with no ac-
at Late Bronze Emar, see Daniel E. Fleming, Time at Emar
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

(Winona Lake, Ind., 2000). On Dagan in Ugaritic rituals,
the one who rears it and determines its fate. These dainas are
see G. del Olmo Lete, Canaanite Religion (Bethesda, Md.,
characterized by their deep emotionality. This is particularly
1999) and Dennis Pardee, Les textes rituels, I–II (Ras Shamra-
true of dainas dealing with the fate of foster children. Dainas
Ougarit XII) (Paris, 2000). On the etymology of Dagan, see
sung directly after the birth of a child during the cultic feast
Fred Renfroe, Arabic-Ugaritic Lexical Studies, pp. 91–94
(pirt¯ızˇas) in the sauna, the traditional place of birthing, have
(Münster, Germany, 1992) and Itamar Singer, “Semitic
a special significance because of their cultic character. These
daga¯n and Indo-European *dhehom: Related Words?” in The
dainas are devoted to the goddess of fate, Laima.
Asia Minor Connexion, edited by Yoël L. Arbeitman,
pp. 221–232 (Louvain, 2000).
2. Dainas dealing with love, the selection of a partner,
and marriage are rather different from those associated with
birth. They are imbued with joy and contain erotic and sexu-
al elements intended to chafe and mock others. Some of the
songs are so caustic that the seventeenth-century bishop Paul
Einhorn, having heard the wedding songs of Latvian peas-
ants, failed to comprehend their deep religious and cultic
character. He wrote in dismay in his Historie lettice in 1649:
DAINAS. In Baltic cultures, the songs known in Latvian
“Afterwards such improper, brazen, and flippant songs were
as dainas and in Lithuanian as dainos deal with two funda-
sung without interruption, day and night, that even the devil
mental cycles, the life cycle of humans and the festival cycle
himself could not have devised and put forth anything more
of the agricultural seasons. Although they are often referred
improper and lewd.” Yet such fertility dainas belong to the
to by the common designation folk song, this modern term
very old family cult.
is misleading, for the dainas, with their trochaic and dactylic
3. The third group of life-cycle dainas, those dealing
meters, differ from the folk songs known to European schol-
with death, are rich in content, representing the individual’s
ars. The original Lithuanian dainos have to a great extent dis-
preparation for death. Their cultic character becomes evident
appeared because of the influence of the European folk song,
in songs that describe the bearing of the casket from the
but Latvian dainas have survived in great numbers. About
home to the cemetery, which was the site of the cultic feast.
sixty thousand (not including variants) have been collected
There a particular type of daina was sung to guarantee that
and published by scholars. Their content reveals that they
the dead person would have a favorable relationship with the
were an integral part of daily agrarian life among Baltic peo-
ruler of the grave and the realm of death, occasionally re-
ples; as such, they bear directly on Baltic religion.
ferred to as Kapu Ma¯te (“grave mother”).
Regarding the etymology of the term, Suniti Kumar
Chatterji has pointed out that
FESTIVAL CYCLE. The second cycle includes dainas that de-
scribe the agricultural work routine and festivals. In their se-
the Baltic word daina had unquestionably its Aryan
quence they mirror the yearly cycle, including its holidays.
[Indo-Iranian] equivalent, etymologically and semanti-
cally, which is perfectly permissible. . . . An Indo-
The most important holidays are the summer and winter sol-
European root *dhi-, *dhy-ei, *dhei-, meaning “to think,
stices. The commencement and conclusion of particular
to ponder over, to give thought to,” appears to be the
work phases also have an important place in the cycle. In the
source of the Vedic dh¯ena¯ and the Avestian da¯ena¯. An
spring, when planting began, bread and meat were plowed
Indo-European form *dhaina¯ as the sourceword can
into the first furrow. Similarly, the leading of the first cattle
very easily and quite correctly be postulated. (Chatterji,
to pasture and the first horses to night watch were also ob-
1968, pp. 69–70)
served as special events. All of these occasions were associated
From the age of Vedic literature words derived from this
with sacral feasts under the leadership of the paterfamilias.
source word deal with the following notions: speech, voice,
Appropriate dainas were an integral part of these rituals. The
praise, prayer, panegyric, and song. The Pahlavi d¯en
commencement as well as the conclusion of certain jobs was
(“religion”) developed into the Avestan da¯ena¯, which, in
observed, especially during the fall harvest. This was a time
turn, appears in modern Arabic as d¯ın, meaning “religion,”
of relative abundance, and therefore the feasts were especially
specifically, orthodox Islam. These etymological derivations
and semantic relationships suggest that dhaina¯ is an ancient
RELIGIOUS DIMENSIONS. Both of these cycles mirror the
Baltic word that has retained the meaning of “song” through
framework of the Baltic peasant’s life, which consisted of
the years.
both hard work and joyous festivity, represented by work
LIFE CYCLE. Dainas figure prominently in an individual’s life
dainas and festival dainas. The peasants, in close harmony
cycle at three major points: birth, marriage, and death. Each
with nature, performed their tasks with songs that helped
of these events determines not only the content but also the
them to adhere to the rhythm of work. Festival dainas,
form of the dainas.
whether of the first or second cycle, introduce another an-
1. In songs dealing with childbirth, the mother figure
cient element inherent in the name dainas itself: that of
appears not only as the one who bears the child but also as
dance. The verb dainot really means “to sing and move
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

rhythmically in a group,” that is, “to dance” in the broadest
Indo-European root meaning “shine, be bright.” In Zoroas-
sense of the word.
trian Iran, however, daiva had a negative sense. Other terms
The great majority of dainas are songs describing various
were used to refer to divine beings, such as baga (“one who
chores that have no specific religious content. Many describe
distributes”), ahura (“lord”), and yazata (“one worthy of
nature, using explicit personifications of and metaphors for
worship”), while daiva was used to designate malefic or de-
natural phenomena. A significant number of songs, however,
monic powers. For that reason one speaks of a “demoniza-
do have a religious dimension, which can be explained by the
tion” of the daiva as a phenomenon characteristic of Zoroas-
significance of religion in Baltic daily life. Man’s place in na-
ture and his dependence on it forced him to ponder the basis
In all probability daiva acquired a negative value in the
of his existence and to determine his relationship with the
Iranian world because of the condemnation by Zarathushtra
forces of nature. The dainas are the clearest proof of this close
(Zoroaster) of traditional religion. The prophet of Ahura
relationship. Furthermore, because the source material relat-
Mazda¯ propounded a faith and a doctrine of monotheistic
ing to the religious life of the Baltic peoples is limited, the
inspiration, and the gods of ancient polytheism were repudi-
dainas represent an irreplaceable source for the reconstruc-
ated as illusions or chimeras.
tion of this religious framework.
Later, after Zoroastrianism had reached a compromise
with the older religious sensibility and with the various forms
of polytheism that had spread throughout the Iranian world
Barons, Kriˇsja¯nis. Latwju dainas. 2d ed. 6 vols. in 8. Riga, 1922.
in the first millennium BCE, the daivas were condemned not
An academic complete-text edition with variants of Latvian
because they were considered, as Zarathushtra had seen
them, the fruit of ignorance and superstition but because
Chatterji, Suniti Kumar. Balts and Aryans. Simla, India, 1968.
they were thought to be real demonic beings. The signifi-
cance of daiva thus changed from “god” to “demon.” In this
Greble, Vilma. “Tautas dziesmas.” In Latvieˇsu literatu¯ras v¯esture,
vol. 1, pp. 22–158. Riga, 1959. Historical survey of the dif-
later form of the religion, Indra, Saurva, and
ferent editions of dainas and a short introduction to the main
Na¯nhaithya—who had prominent positions in the Indian
pantheon as Indra, S´arva, and Na¯satya—became archde-
Jonval, Michel. Les chansons mythologiques lettonnes. Paris, 1929.
mons. They were opposed, respectively, by the Amesha
A selection of religious dainas concerning the pre-Christian
Spentas Asha, Khshathra Vairya, and A¯rmaiti.
Latvian deities.
The Zoroastrian pandemonium is particularly rich.
Katzenelenbogen, Uriah. The Daina. Chicago, 1935. The only
Among the most important daivas are Ae¯shma (“wrath,
edition of dainas in English, with a brief introductory survey
fury”), known throughout the Zoroastrian tradition;
of their ethnological value.
Apaosha (“dearth”), fought by Tishtrya, the yazata of the star
Lietuviuh tautosaka, vol. 1, Dainos. Vilnius, 1962. A complete-
Sirius; Asto¯v¯ıdha¯tu (“dismembering of skeleton”); Bu¯shya˛sta¯
text edition of Lithuanian dainos with a Marxist ideological
(“sloth”); and Nasu (“corpse”), the demon of decay.
Zarathushtra’s condemnation of the daivas, intended as
New Sources
the rejection of the gods of polytheism, always remained, if
Latvieˇsu tautas dziesmas. Riga, 1979. Latvian folk songs.
only with the modification explained above, a characteristic
Raudupe, Rud¯ıte. Dievatzin¸a v¯eda¯s un daina¯s. Riga, 2002. Per-
feature of Zoroastrianism. In all its subsequent historical
ception of God in vedas and dainas.
manifestations—as, for example, in an inscription of Xerxes
at Persepolis—there are traces, even if partly distorted, of
Sex Songs of the Ancient Letts. New York, 1969.
Zarathushtra’s original teaching.
Sˇva¯be, Arve¯ds, Karl¯ıs Straubergs, and Ed¯ıte Hauzen-
berga-Sˇturma, eds. Latvieˇsu tautas dziesmas. Chansons
Populaires Lettonnes. 12 vols. Copenhagen, 1952–56.
Benveniste, Émile. “Hommes et dieux dans l’Avesta.” In Festschrift
V¯ık¸e-Freiberga, Vaira, ed. Linguistics and Poetics of Latvian Folk
für Wilhelm Eilers, pp. 144–147. Wiesbaden, 1967.
Songs. Kingston and Montreal, 1989.
Bianchi, Ugo. “L’inscription ‘des daivas’ et le zoroastrisme des Ac-
V¯ık¸e-Freiberga, Vaira, and Imants Freibergs. Saules dainas. Latvi-
héménides.” Revue de l’historie des religions 192 (1977): 3–30.
an Sun songs. Montreal, 1988.
Boyce, Mary. A History of Zoroastrianism, vol. 1. Leiden, 1975.
Burrow, T. “The Proto-Indoaryans.” Journal of the Royal Asiatic
Revised Bibliography
Society (1973): 123–140.
Duchesne-Guillemin, Jacques. Ormazd et Ahriman. Paris, 1953.
Gershevitch, Ilya. “Die Sonne das Beste.” In Mithraic Studies, ed-
ited by John R. Hinnells, vol. 1, pp. 68–81. Manchester,
DAIVAS. The Iranian term daiva originally signified
U.K., 1975.
“god,” as is shown in several occurrences of the word in the
Gnoli, Gherardo. Zoroaster’s Time and Homeland. Naples, 1980.
Avesta (Av., da¯eva; OPers., daiva; MPers., Pahl., d¯ew). Like
Gray, Louis H. The Foundations of the Iranian Religions. Bombay,
the Vedic deva or the Latin deus, daiva may be related to the
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

Henning, W. B. “A Sogdian God.” Bulletin of the School of Orien-
However superficial or profound his conversion to evi-
tal and African Studies 28 (1965): 242–254.
dential research, Dai Zhen succeeded in gaining entry to the
Kellens, Jean. Le panthéon de l’Avesta ancien. Wiesbaden, 1994.
most illustrious intellectual circles. His publications in math-
Lommel, Herman. Die Religionn Zarathustras nach dem Awesta
ematics and waterway engineering earned him high renown.
dargestellt. Tübingen, 1930.
In 1773 the emperor appointed him to the elite board of
Molé, Marijan. Culte, mythe et cosmologie dans l’Iran ancien. Paris,
compilers of the Imperial Manuscript Library (Siku Quan-
shu). He had risen to the very pinnacle of scholarship, yet
Nöldeke, Theodor. “Der Weisse De¯v von Ma¯zandara¯n.” Archiv
even during his tenure at the library he continued to write
für Religionswissenschaft 18 (1915): 597–600.
books on philosophy.
Widengren, Geo. Stand und Aufgaben der iranischen Religions-
geschichte. Leiden, 1955.
His colleagues and peers tended to view his philosophi-
cal writings as incidental digressions from his scholarly work.
Translated from Italian by Roger DeGaris
Although one or two of his closest disciples recognized the
importance of philosophy to Dai Zhen’s intellectual life,
none of them was able to carry on his philosophical work.
Hu Shi revived Dai Zhen’s philosophy at a memorial confer-
(zi, Shenxiu; hao, Dongyuan; 1724–1777),
ence in 1923–1924, claiming that Dai Zhen, fully steeped
the most illustrious representative of the kaozheng school of
in the empirical scholarship of his day, had attacked and
evidential research and one of the leading philosophers of the
transcended the errors and excesses of Song neo-
Qing dynasty (1644–1911).
Confucianism, laying the groundwork of a new Confucian
Dai Zhen was born into a modest mercantile family of
vision. Others, notably Yu Yingshi, have argued that Dai
Xiuning, Anhwei Province. He pursued his earliest education
Zhen’s thought is in fact profoundly indebted to neo-
by borrowing books from neighbors. He learned very quickly
Confucianism and is a continuous development of that heri-
and astonished his teachers by questioning the authority of
tage. Yu maintains that Dai was never fully converted to the
everything he read. For a brief period he was apprenticed to
antiphilosophical prejudices of his peers. He saw scholarship
a cloth merchant, but in 1742 he was sent to the home of
as a handmaiden to the larger task of philosophy. Arguing
a wealthy scholar and there studied with Jiangyong (1681–
from Dai Zhen’s letters and conversations, Yu contends that
the real target of his philosophy was not the Song school, but
The scholar Jiangyong provided the formative influence
his narrow and pedantic contemporaries in evidential re-
during the first period of Dai Zhen’s adult life. He was a spe-
cialist in the Li ji (Record of Rites) and in mathematics and
phonology; the training he gave Dai Zhen in these areas be-
Dai Zhen’s philosophy was based on a monism of qi
came the foundation for much of Dai Zhen’s later scholar-
(“ether”). He argued against the Song neo-Confucian dis-
ship in the kaozheng tradition. This side of his education fit-
tinctions between metaphysical and physical, between heav-
ted him for the mainstream of Qing intellectual life.
en-endowed nature and material nature. Such dualism, he
Jiangyong, however, also steeped his pupil in the philosophi-
claimed, led Confucians to neglect the empirical world and
cal systems of Song neo-Confucianism, inculcating the no-
to believe that there was in human beings a dichotomy be-
tion that practical scholarship and moral philosophy were the
tween nature and feelings. On the grand scale, Dai argued
two legs of Confucian learning.
that the Dao was nothing other than the orderly patterns of
the movements of ether; it was not a metaphysical principle.
In 1754, Dai Zhen moved to Beijing, where he mingled
Analogously, he held that the realization of human nature
with representatives of the kaozheng school of evidential re-
was nothing other than the orderly patterns of one’s feelings.
search, notably Huidong (1697–1758). Kaozheng scholars
As the sages had channeled the floodwaters to restore the
accused the Song neo-Confucians of pointless speculation in-
order of Dao in the world, so feelings, properly channeled,
fluenced by the Buddhists; such learning, they claimed, was
are the manifestations of human nature. Human life in the
disdainful of the practical problems of the real world and ne-
material world is made up of feelings or response. When feel-
glected solid scholarship in favor of subjectivism. Although
ings are healthfully expressed and fundamental needs satis-
during his early years in Beijing Dai Zhen defended the need
fied, both the body and xin, or mind and heart, of the person
to ask larger questions about morality and meaning, his writ-
can be healthy and whole. To channel feelings and under-
ings published between 1758 and 1766 show the influence
stand the order and movements of ether, the mind must
of kaozheng on his thinking. Some scholars interpret this pe-
weigh (quan) its perceptions and responses carefully. Weigh-
riod as a repudiation of his past philosophical training. It is
ing requires accurate and informed perceptions that take ac-
certain that Dai Zhen brought to Beijing ideas that ran
count of all the evidence and, carefully comparing the evi-
counter to the consensus of his peers, but whether his col-
dence, come to a balanced response.
leagues in Beijing convinced him to change his orientation,
or whether he simply emphasized the nonphilosophical side
An organic connection ran between Dai Zhen’s scholar-
of his work to gain acceptance at the capital, is a question
ship and his philosophy. Only the former aspect of his
that remains unanswered.
work was appreciated during his lifetime, whereas the latter
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

area is the subject of continued debate among Confucian
were already practiced in priestly circles in the Achaemenid
period, as we know from Herodotus) were designed to avoid
scrupulously any contamination of the earth, fire, and water
SEE ALSO Mengzi.
and can be traced to earlier practices widespread among the
nomads of Central Asia. These—as we learn from the Vendi-
dad—prescribed that corpses, considered impure, be exposed
Although during his lifetime Dai Zhen was best known for his es-
to vultures so that the bones could be cleansed of flesh. Once
says on mathematics, waterworks, and phonology (Liang,
they were purified of humors and putrefying flesh, the bones
pp. 58–59), he is today highly regarded for his philosophical
were placed in special ossuaries. According to Strabo, the ex-
writings. His Yuan shan, composed in 1763 and revised in
1776, has been translated by Cheng Chung-ying as Dai
posure of corpses was also practiced in eastern Iran during
Chên’s Inquiry into Goodness (Honolulu, 1971). In it Dai de-
the Parthian period.
veloped his monism of ether and his views of human nature
Later, dakhma became the technical term for the “tow-
and feelings. Meng-zi zi i su cheng (Elucidation on the mean-
ers of silence,” the buildings used for the rites of exposure
ing of words in Mencius) in 3 chüan (Beijing, 1956) was
of the corpses, whether in Zoroastrian communities in Iran
composed in 1769, but revised during his final years at the
or in Parsi communities of India. The modern translation
Imperial Manuscript Library. The Elucidation is his most sys-
tematic philosophical work and grounds his monism and his
“towers of silence” seems to have been used for the first time
view of human nature in the writings of Mencius.
by R. Z. Murphy, Oriental translator for the British govern-
ment at Bombay (Modi, 1937).
Fang Chao-ying has written a very useful biography of Dai Zhen
in Eminent Chinese of the Qing Period, 1644–1912, vol. 1,
The dakhma, which continues to be used today, al-
edited by Arthur W. Hummel (Washington, D.C., 1943),
though in more limited forms, is a circular tower, construct-
pp. 695–700. Regarding the thought of Dai Zhen, Hu Shi’s
ed of stone and often located on a hill. An iron door opens
Dai Dongyuan di zhexue (Shanghai, 1927) makes the case
onto a large platform consisting of three concentric circles.
that the originality of Dai’s philosophy lays the groundwork
The first and largest is for the bodies of men; the second, in
for a new Confucian school. Yu Yingshi’s Lun Dai Zhen Yu
Chang Xuecheng
(On Dai Zhen and Chang Xuecheng; Hong
the middle, is for those of women; and the third is for those
Kong, 1976) argues that Dai’s thought develops organically
of children. After the corpse has been exposed and reduced
out of his deep knowledge of the neo-Confucian tradition
to a skeleton, the bones are put in a large, deep hole at the
and in dialogue with the concerns of the greatest minds of
center of the dakhma.
the kaozheng school. Hou Wai-lu, in volume 5 of his Zhong-
Zoroastrian ritual attaches great importance to funerals,
guo sixiang tongshi (Beijing, 1963), pp. 430–464, provides a
which are consequently very detailed and complex, as well
lucid analysis of Dai Zhen’s thought and a succinct account
of the twentieth-century revival of his philosophy.
as meticulous in their purificatory practices. Equally complex
are the rites for the consecration of the dakhma, which con-
Three English-language works provide a brief introduction to Dai
sist of ceremonies for the excavation of the site, for the foun-
Zhen’s philosophy. Cheng Chung-ying discusses the philo-
sophical system in the introduction to his translation
dation, and for the consecration itself.
(above). Liang Qichao provides an appreciative introduction
to Dai’s thought and scholarship in Intellectual Trends of the
Qing Period, translated by Immanuel C. Y. Xu (Cambridge,
Boyce, Mary. “An Old Village Dakhma of Iran.” In Mémorial Jean
Mass., 1959), pp. 54–62. Fung Yulan provides a critique of
de Menasce, edited by Philippe Gignoux and A. Tafazzoli,
his philosophical position in A History of Chinese Philosophy,
pp. 3–9. Louvain, 1974.
vol. 2, 2d ed., translated by Derk Bodde (Princeton, 1953),
Boyce, Mary. A History of Zoroastrianism, vol. 1. Leiden, 1975.
pp. 651–672. Finally Yu Yingshi’s article “Some Preliminary
Observations on the Rise of Qing Confucian Intellectual-
Boyce, Mary. A Persian Stronghold of Zoroastrianism. Oxford,
ism,” Tsing-hua Journal of Chinese Studies, n.s. 11 (1975):
105–146, provides a larger picture of the rise of evidential
Boyce, Mary. Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices.
research that shows that Dai Zhen’s moral philosophy moti-
London, 1979.
vates his evidential research.
de Jong, Albert. Traditions of the Magi. Zoroastrianism in Greek
and Latin Literature. Leiden, 1997.
Duchesne-Guillemin, Jacques. La religion de l’Iran ancien. Paris,
DAKHMA. The Iranian term dakhma, which probably
Hoffmann, Karl. “Av. daxma-.” Zeitschrift für vergleichende
originally signified “tomb,” seems to be derived from the
Sprachforschung aus dem Gebiete der indogermanischen Spr-
89 (1965): 238.
Indo-European root *dhm:bh, “bury” (Hoffmann, 1965),
and not from dag, “burn,” as some scholars have proposed.
Modi, Jivanji Jamshedji. The Religious Ceremonies and Customs of
It is occasionally used in the Avesta with a negative meaning,
the Parsees. 2d ed. Bombay, 1937.
insofar as the burial of bodies was condemned: the funeral
rites adopted by the Zoroastrian community (and which
Translated from Italian by Roger DeGaris
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

DALAI LAMA, title of the spiritual and formerly politi-
in Mongolia, his reincarnation was discovered to be none
cal leader of the Tibetan people, is a combination of the
other than the great-grandson of Altan Khan himself. The
Mongolian dalai (“ocean”), signifying profound knowledge,
fourth Dalai Lama, Yon tan rgya mtsho (1589–1617), is the
and the Tibetan blama (“religious teacher”). The title dates
only one in the lineage ethnically not a Tibetan. Escorted
from 1578 CE, when it was conferred by Altan Khan of the
from Mongolia to Lhasa, he was enthroned in the Dalai
Mongols upon Bsod nams rgya mtsho (1543–1588), third
Lama’s residence in ’Bras spung monastery. Recognition of
hierarch of the Dge lugs pa school of Tibetan Buddhism,
this Mongol prince as the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama
commonly called the Yellow Hat sect. The title was applied
thereafter bound the Mongols by faith to the Yellow Hat
posthumously to the two preceding hierarchs, Dge ’dun-
school, and in time they were to protect it militarily from
grub pa (1391–1475), founder of Bkra ´sis lhun po (Tashil-
its enemies.
hunpo) monastery near Shigatse in Gtsan˙ province, and Dge
The power struggle in Tibet between the Red Hat
’dun rgya mtsho (1475–1542), founder of the Dalai Lama’s
Karma pa and the Yellow Hat Dge lugs pa continued to esca-
residence in ’Bras spung monastery near Lhasa in Dbus prov-
late in favor of the Red Hats and the lay king of Gtsan˙. Final-
ince. After 1578 the title was given to each of the successive
ly in 1642, at the invitation of the fifth Dalai Lama, Nag
reincarnations of the Dalai Lama. The present Dalai Lama
dban rgya mtsho (1617–1682), Gu ´sr¯ı Khan of the Mongols
is fourteenth in the lineage.
led troops into Tibet, defeated the Red Hat opposition, and
Incarnation (Tib., sprul sku), the manifestation of some
executed the lay king of Gtsan˙. In effect Gu ´sr¯ı Khan had
aspect of the absolute Buddhahood in human form, is an an-
conquered Tibet, but true to his faith, he presented the coun-
cient doctrine and one common to various schools of Maha-
try to the fifth Dalai Lama as a religious gift. Thus the Dalai
yana Buddhism, but the concept of the reincarnation (yan˙
Lama became the religious and political head of Tibet. Be-
srid) of a lama is unique to Tibetan Buddhism. The concept
cause he was a monk, a civil administrator was appointed to
emerged in the fourteenth century in the hierarchic lineage
handle the day-to-day affairs of state.
of the Black Hat Karma pa and was soon adopted by the
other Tibetan schools.
After the enthronement of this Dalai Lama, a prophetic
scripture was discovered. It revealed that the reincarnate
From the inception of the institution, traditional proce-
Dalai Lama was also an incarnation of the Bodhisattva of
dures for discovering the rebirth of a Dalai Lama, similar to
Compassion, Avalokite´svara (Tib., Spyan ras gzigs), tradi-
those used for other reincarnate lamas, were followed. Indic-
tionally regarded as the patron bodhisattva of Tibet. The re-
ative statements made by the previous Dalai Lama during his
lationship between the noumenal Avalokite´svara and the
lifetime, significant auguries surrounding his death and after-
phenomenal Dalai Lama was attested by symbolism. Accord-
ward, and meditative visions by special lamas were recorded
ing to Buddhist doctrine, the mystical abode of
and interpreted as guides to finding his rebirth. In time, but
Avalokite´svara is a mountain called the Potala; so the fifth
no sooner than nine months after the death of the previous
Dalai Lama ordered a massive fortress, also called the Potala,
Dalai Lama, the people began to expect reports of an excep-
to be built on a mountain in the Lhasa area. Begun in 1645,
tional male child born in accordance with various omens.
the Potala at Lhasa served as the palace of the Dalai Lama
Such a child, usually two or three years old when discovered,
for more than three hundred years.
was subjected to tests to determine physical fitness, intelli-
gence, and the ability to remember events and objects from
The most common Tibetan prayer is the six-syllable
his previous existence. If more than one likely candidate was
“Om: man:i padme hu¯m:.” Printed on prayer flags, contained
found, the final selection was made by drawing a name from
in prayer wheels, carved repeatedly in wood and stone, and
a golden urn. Once the true reincarnation was determined,
chanted daily by Tibetan Buddhists, this is the vocative man-
he was enthroned in the Potala palace as the Dalai Lama. The
tra in Sanskrit of Avalokite´svara. In view of his relationship
monastic education of a Dalai Lama, directed by learned tu-
to the Dalai Lama, the six-syllable mantra symbolically serves
tors of the Dge lugs pa school, occupied his time for years.
at once as an invocation to both the noumenal and phenom-
When he attained his majority, at about eighteen years of
enal manifestations of the Bodhisattva of Compassion. Be-
age, he assumed the religio-political power of the office of
cause of the belief that the Dalai Lama is an incarnation of
Dalai Lama.
Avalokite´svara as well as a reincarnation of his predecessor,
he is frequently, but incorrectly, called the “God-King” of
In the beginning, the religious power of the Dalai Lama
Tibet in Western writings.
was limited to the monastic members and lay patrons of the
reformed Yellow Hat school. By the middle of the sixteenth
The fifth Dalai Lama was a learned scholar and the au-
century, religio-political power in Tibet was unevenly divid-
thor of many texts, including a history of Tibet. During the
ed between the Red Hat Karma pa, supported by the lay king
forty years he was head of state, the Mongols helped to pro-
of Gtsan˙, and the Yellow Hat Dge lugs pa, patronized by lay
tect his newly established government and to expand its terri-
princes of Dbus. The third hierarch of the Yellow Hat school
torial control. In recognition of the important role he played
was subsequently invited to Mongolia by Altan Khan, who
in religio-political history, he is referred to in Tibetan litera-
gave him the title Dalai Lama. When the Dalai Lama died
ture as the Great Fifth.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

The death of the fifth Dalai Lama was kept secret for
The thirteenth Dalai Lama, Thubbstan rgya mtsho
fifteen years by the civil administrator for political reasons.
(1876–1933), assumed full power in 1895. He survived an
His reincarnation, Tshan˙s dbyan˙s rgya mtsho (1683–1706),
attempt on his life by his former regent, who purportedly re-
was discovered in due course but was not officially acknowl-
sorted to witchcraft in hopes of furthering his political ambi-
edged as the next Dalai Lama until 1697. Unlike the monas-
tions. During his long reign as head of state, the thirteenth
tic training of his predecessors, who had been publicly en-
Dalai Lama was forced to flee to Mongolia in 1904 to escape
throned and tutored as children, that of the sixth Dalai Lama
British troops invading from India. He spent years traveling
was not only kept secret but was apparently less than strict.
in Mongolia and China. Not long after his return to Lhasa,
Already in his teens when enthroned in the Potala, he soon
he was again forced to flee early in 1910, this time to India
gained notoriety for his addiction to wine, women, and song.
to avoid the invading Chinese forces. The Chinese revolu-
Censure caused him to renounce his vows as a monk in
tion of 1911 that overthrew the Manchu dynasty and estab-
1702, but he remained in the Potala as the Dalai Lama. Fi-
lished the Republic of China also marked the end of Manchu
nally in 1706, he was deposed by Lha bzan˙ Khan, a great-
domination of Tibetan affairs. The Manchu imperial garri-
grandson of Gu ´sr¯ı Khan, and deported to China; he died
son at Lhasa, which had been set up early in the eighteenth
enroute. The sixth Dalai Lama is perhaps best remembered
century, was deported to a man by the Tibetan government.
for sixty-two four-line verses, commonly referred to as his
From 1913 until his death in 1933, the thirteenth Dalai
“love songs.” A recurring theme in his poetry is the psycho-
Lama was the head of an independent government. Living
physiological conflict between his monastic obligations as the
in exile in British India motivated the thirteenth Dalai Lama
Dalai Lama and his passion for mundane pleasures.
to implement various reforms in Tibet to improve the wel-
fare of his people. His importance in Tibetan history can be
After the deposition and death of the sixth Dalai Lama,
compared with that of the Great Fifth Dalai Lama in the sev-
Lha-bzan˙ Khan became undisputed ruler of Tibet. He en-
enteenth century.
throned a puppet in the Potala, but the Tibetan people re-
fused to accept him as the Dalai Lama. Instead, a boy born
The fourteenth Dalai Lama, Bstan ’dzin rgya mtsho,
in eastern Tibet was recognized as the true reincarnation.
was born in 1935 of Tibetan parentage in the Chinghai prov-
Owing to the unstable situation in Lhasa, the seventh Dalai
ince of China. Two other likely candidates were also found;
Lama, Bskal bzan˙ rgya mtsho (1708–1757), was taken to
but the one from Chinghai successfully passed all the tests,
Kumbum monastery in the Kokonor region for safekeeping.
the omens were in mystical agreement, and he was confirmed
In 1717 Mongols from Dzungaria, in support of the seventh
as the true reincarnation by the State Oracle of Tibet himself.
Dalai Lama, invaded Tibet and killed Lha bzan˙ Khan. The
The Chinghai candidate was duly enthroned in the Potala
puppet Dalai Lama was deposed and later deported to
at Lhasa in 1940. During the next decade, half of which was
China. The seventh Dalai Lama was escorted to Lhasa by a
taken up by World War II in Asia, the young Dalai Lama
Manchu imperial army and enthroned in the Potala in 1720.
was educated and prepared for the time he would assume his
role as religio-political ruler of Tibet.
A significant change was made in 1721 in the structure
of the Tibetan government. The office of the civil adminis-
The invasion of eastern Tibet late in 1950 by forces of
trator, which had concentrated political power in one pair
the People’s Republic of China precipitated the empower-
of hands, was abolished and replaced with a council of four
ment of the fourteenth Dalai Lama when he was just fifteen
ministers collectively responsible for the secular branch of the
years old. He was escorted to a village near the Indian border
dyadic hierocracy.
to avoid capture by the Chinese. In 1951, an agreement was
reached between the Tibetan government and the Peking re-
The death of the seventh Dalai Lama in 1757 led to the
gime, and the Dalai Lama subsequently returned to Lhasa.
creation of a new government position. The office of the
In 1956, the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama, the
Dalai Lama had become institutionalized by then, and there
high-ranking reincarnate lama of the Yellow Hat monastery
was no question but that his reincarnation would succeed to
of Bkra ´sis lhun po, were invited to India to attend the Bud-
his position of ruling power. Thus, the death of a Dalai Lama
dha Jayanti, a great celebration marking the twenty-five-
meant an interregnum of some twenty years, during which
hundredth anniversary of the birth of the Buddha. After the
his reincarnation had to be discovered and educated, and his
Dalai Lama returned to Tibet, however, the constrained po-
majority attained before he would resume power. During
litical situation there continued to deteriorate, and in March
that period, another reincarnate lama of the Dge lugs pa
1959 the Tibetan populace revolted against the Chinese re-
school was appointed regent to rule Tibet on behalf of the
gime in Lhasa. The Dalai Lama fled to India. That month
minor Dalai Lama. Reluctance of successive regents and their
the Chinese abolished the traditional Tibetan government,
supporters to hand over power each time a Dalai Lama
ending over three hundred years of hierocratic rule by the
reached his majority is blamed, perhaps unjustly, for the fact
Dalai Lama, incarnation of Avalokite´svara, Bodhisattva of
that the eighth Dalai Lama ruled only for a few years, the
ninth and tenth died young without assuming power, and
the eleventh and twelth Dalai Lamas ruled only for short pe-
The present Dalai Lama continues to live in exile in
riods before their death.
India. He has traveled internationally, visiting various Asian
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

countries as well as continental Europe, the United King-
near Monte Catria in the Marches. Damian is reticent about
dom, and the United States. The leaders of two great reli-
his conversion, but it is known that it was not sudden. Vita
gious traditions met when the fourteenth Dalai Lama of Ti-
Romualdi, Damian’s first datable work (1042), is as valuable
betan Buddhism was welcomed in the Vatican by Paul VI
for its view of eremitical life as the apex of Benedictine obser-
in 1973 and by John Paul II in 1979.
vance as it is as a source for the life of Damian’s revered men-
tor. Chosen prior in 1043, Damian turned the colony into
SEE ALSO Dge lugs pa.
a stable community with a written rule, a library, and a tem-
poral base, and saw it grow into a widespread congregation.
The only book dealing with the first thirteen Dalai Lamas in some
Damian’s conviction that his pursuit of evangelical per-
detail remains Günther Schulemann’s Die Geschichte der
fection did not exempt him from public service helped him
Dalailamas, 2d ed. (Leipzig, 1959). Charles A. Bell’s Portrait
cope with an important challenge of his day, namely the re-
of the Dalai Lama (London, 1946) is a biographical sketch
form of the church, appeals for which mounted from outside
based on the author’s personal friendship with the thirteenth
monasteries, from Emperor Henry III, from Archdeacon
Dalai Lama, but part 2 of the book explains what a Dalai
Hildebrand (later Pope Gregory VII), and from others. A
Lama is and how he is discovered and educated. A scholarly
rare insight into the mystery of the church as the union of
listing, but with basic dates and data only, of all fourteen
every member in Christ complemented his strong support
Dalai Lamas, as well as the regents who successively served
of its hierarchical structure in the Roman tradition. His col-
them, can be found in Luciano Petech’s “The Dalai-Lamas
laboration with the popes began under Leo IX (1049–1054)
and Regents of Tibet: A Chronological Study,” Tuoung bao
(Leiden) 47 (1959): 368–394.
and was closest with the moderate Alexander II (1061–
1073). Damian became cardinal bishop of Ostia in 1057,
English translations of three books by the fourteenth Dalai Lama,
carrying out delicate missions in Italy, France, and Germany.
Tenzin Gyatso, are recommended. His autobiography, My
Land and My People
(New York, 1962), is an interesting nar-
After reconciling the archbishop of Ravenna with the Roman
rative of his selection, education, and experiences. The Open-
see, he died at Faenza, where his cult began.
ing of the Wisdom-Eye and the History of the Advancement of
The flow of writings from Damian’s pen, matching his
Buddhadharma in Tibet (Bangkok, 1968) and The Buddhism
tireless activity in the church, includes 175 letters, small
of Tibet and the Key to the Middle Way (New York, 1975)
tracts, some 50 sermons, saints’ lives, prayers, hymns, and
provide lucid expositions of the fundamental philosophical
teachings of Tibetan Buddhism that must be mastered by a
poems. His efforts at reform, based on the norms of church
Dalai Lama.
law, reflect the issues of his times: clerical immorality (Liber
), theological problems raised by traffic in
Also recommended are David L. Snellgrove and Hugh E. Richard-
church offices (Liber gratissimus), and political-ecclesiastical
son’s A Cultural History of Tibet (New York, 1968), Rolf A.
Stein’s Tibetan Civilization (Stanford, Calif., 1972), and
strife (Disceptatio synodalis). Of lasting interest are the fruits
Tsepon W. D. Shakabpa’s Tibet: A Political History (New
of his beloved solitude: his ideal of Christian virtue and fidel-
Haven, Conn., 1967). Each of these works contains an excel-
ity to duty in all walks of society, and his spiritual counsel,
lent bibliography.
scriptural comments, and meditations. He was steeped in the
Bible and drew on the church fathers, especially Augustine,
whose works he procured for Fonte Avellana. Still prized in
the twelfth century, his writings were eclipsed by the intellec-
tualism of the Scholastic age, but Dante’s praise assured
Damian recognition outside the church as well (Paradiso
21.106–111). Thanks to excellent transmission of the manu-
scripts, Damian’s corpus was secured for the modern age in
the Editio princeps of Costantino Gaetani (four volumes,
Rome, 1606–1640). Scholarship has shifted from its earlier
(1007–1072), also known as Pier
selectivity to a consideration of Damian’s whole legacy and
Damiani; Italian author, monk, cardinal, doctor of the
of the man himself, as evidenced in the studies published in
church, and Christian saint. Born in Ravenna, Damian ac-
1972 for the ninth centennial of his death. Perhaps the major
quired his training in the liberal arts, his superior command
significance of Peter Damian for Western religion lies in the
of Latin, and his knowledge of Roman law at Ravenna, Faen-
fact that he, like the Camaldolese and Carthusians, gave new
za, and Parma, where an urban culture survived. Ravenna,
life and form to the strain of contemplative life and asceti-
capital of Romagna and the old Byzantine exarchate, re-
cism stemming from the Desert Fathers of Egypt.
gained importance through the Ottonian revival. Through-
out his lifetime, Damian retained ties with Ravenna’s civil
and clerical circles.
The collected works are available in Patrologia Latina, edited by
In 1035, when already a priest and teacher, he changed
J.-P. Migne, vols. 144 and 145, (Paris, 1853). Single items
careers to join the disciples of the extreme ascetic Romuald
have modern editions, and an edition of the letters is in prep-
(d. 1027) in the wilderness at Fonte Avellana, a hermitage
aration for the “Monumenta Germaniae Historica” series.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

The only anthology in English is Saint Peter Damian: Selected
tors), particularly their faith in their ability to affect the
Writings on the Spiritual Life, translated with an introduction
world around them.
by Patricia McNulty (London, 1959). Both Owen J. Blum’s
Saint Peter Damian: His Teachings on the Spiritual Life
Dance has potency through sensory sensitivity and per-
(Washington, D.C., 1947) and my own Saint Peter Damiani
ception: the sight of performers moving in time and space,
and His Canonical Sources: A Preliminary Study in the Ante-
the sounds of physical movements, the odors of physical ex-
cedents of the Gregorian Reform (Toronto, 1956) have ample
ertion, the feeling of kinesthetic activity or empathy, and the
bibliographies. An expert portrayal is Jean Leclercq’s Saint
sensations of contact with other bodies or the dancer’s envi-
Pierre Damien: Ermite et homme d’église (Rome, 1960). Two
ronment. Meaning in dance relies on who does what, and
important collections of new studies are San Pier Damiano:
on when, where, why, how, and with and to whom it is done.
Nel IX centenario della morte, 1072–1972, 4 vols. (Cesena,
Such variables can convey gender roles, class status hierar-
1972–1978); and San Pier Damiani: Atti del convegno di studi
chies, race, and other group identities. Skilled dancing may
nel IX centenario della morte (Faenza, 1973).
show spiritual excellence.
More like poetry than prose, dance may have cognitive,
language-like references beyond the dance form itself. Mean-
ing may be conveyed through various devices, such as meta-
phor (a dance in place of another expression that it resembles
This entry consists of the following articles:
to suggest a likeness between the two), metonym (a dance
connected with a larger whole), concretization (mimetic pre-
sentation), stylization (somewhat arbitrary religious gestures
or movements that are the result of convention), icon (a
dancer enacting some of a god’s characteristics and being re-
garded or treated as that god), and actualization (a portrayal
of one or several aspects of a dancer’s real life).
Meaning may also exist in the spheres of the dance
Dance is part of many systems of belief about the universe
event, including nondance activity, the human body in spe-
that deal with the nature and mystery of human existence
cial action, the whole dance performance, performance seg-
and involve feelings, thoughts, and actions. From a compara-
ments as they unfold as in a narrative, specific movements
tive worldwide perspective, dance may be seen as human be-
or style reflecting religious values, the intermeshing of dance
havior composed (from the dancer’s point of view) of pur-
with other communication media such as music, and the
poseful, intentionally rhythmical, and culturally patterned
presence of a dancer conveying a supernatural aura or energy.
sequences of nonverbal body movements in time, in space,
and with effort. Different from ordinary motor activities,
It is not possible to know the origins of religious dance.
these movements have inherent and “aesthetic” values; that
Rock art verifies its antiquity, however, and many peoples
is, they have both appropriateness and competency. Accord-
have explanatory myths. The Dogon of Mali, for example,
ing to historical and anthropological research, people dance
say that god’s son the jackal danced and traced out the world
to express an awareness that is often difficult to express in
and its future; the first attested dance was one of divination
words, and to fulfill a range of intentions and functions that
that told secrets in dust. A spirit later taught people to dance.
change over time. Perceptions of orthodoxy and authenticity
Hindus of India believe that S´iva danced the world into
vary. People dance to explain religion, to create and re-create
being and later conveyed the art of dancing to humans.
social roles, to worship or honor, to conduct supernatural be-
A popularly held psychological and theological theory
neficence, to effect change, to embody or merge with the su-
found in numerous histories of dance suggests that dance
pernatural through inner or external transformations, to re-
evolved instrumentally to cope with unknown happenings
veal divinity through dance creation, to help themselves, and
in the human environment. Spontaneous movement—an
to entertain. Specific knowledge of dance practices associated
outlet for the emotional tension endemic in the perpetual
with the supernatural is acquired through initiation, divina-
struggle for existence in a baffling environment—developed
tion, oracle, observation, and copying.
into patterned, symbolic movements for the individual and
The power of dance in religious practice lies in its mul-
group. When a desired situation occurred following an in-
tisensory, emotional, and symbolic capacity to create moods
strumentally intended dance (for example, rain followed a
and a sense of situation in attention-riveting patterns by
danced request), the dance was assumed to have causative
framing, prolonging, or discontinuing communication.
power and sacred association. Over time, style, structure, and
Dance is a vehicle that incorporates inchoate ideas in visible
meaning in dance changed through the perception of super-
human form and modifies inner experience as well as social
natural revelation, individual or group initiative, and con-
action. The efficacy of dance in contributing to the construc-
tacts with other people. When different religious groups
tion of a worldview and affecting human behavior depends
come together, one may dominate the other, sometimes lead-
upon the beliefs of the participants (performers and specta-
ing to complete acceptance or syncretism. In many parts of
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

the world, a group may practice both the old and new reli-
had a stifling impact on dance worldwide. Europeans recog-
gions, as when African deities share their altars with Chris-
nized that non-European dance was intertwined with indige-
tian saints.
nous religions and moralities. Even though these dances
often had themes and origins comparable to those of Europe-
mind and body, especially concerning emotion and sexuality,
an folk dances, colonialists considered indigenous dances to
affect dance in religion (as well as in other aspects of life).
be the manifestation of savage heathenism, and thus antago-
Whereas various arts use the body as an accessory to create
nistic to the “true faith.” They therefore frequently sought
sounds or visual objects, dance is manifest directly through
to eliminate them. The British influence, for example, con-
the body and evokes bodily associations. Christian, Muslim,
tributed to the demise of Hindu temple dancing without
and Hindu beliefs and practices illustrate significantly differ-
succeeding in spreading Christianity. However, even when
ent perspectives about dance and religion.
proscribed or out of fashion, dance rises phoenixlike and
transformed. The Hindu temple-dancing became an Indian
Christianity’s love-hate relationship with the body and
nationalist symbol appropriated by middle-class women.
acceptance of a mind-body dichotomy—which the rational-
Black slaves in the United States, members of Nigerian Yoru-
ism of sixteenth-century Europe intensified—has led to both
ba Assemblies of God, and a number of white Christian
positive and negative attitudes toward dance. Recognizing
groups have all included in their worship what appears to be
Christ’s humanity, Christianity views the human body as a
dance—though under a different name, such as “play,” “the
temple housing the Holy Spirit, and it calls its church the
shout,” or “feeling the Lord.”
“body of Christ.” Paul said, “Glorify Christ in your bodies”
(1 Cor. 6:15–20). From the second century, Christians (e.g.,
As former European colonies in Africa, Latin America,
Theodoret of Cyrrhus and Clement of Alexandria) described
and Asia regained independence, they frequently reevaluated
dance as an imitation of the perpetual dance of angels, the
and renewed their devalued dances. Moreover, counterreac-
blessed and righteous expressing physically their desire to
tions in the twentieth-century West to claims of the separa-
enter heaven. Christianity built upon the Hebrew tradition
tion of mind from body have led to a renaissance of dance
of demonstrating through pious dance that no part of the in-
as religious practice in churches and temples. When West-
dividual was unaffected by the love of God. Yet Christianity
erners developed more accepting attitudes about the body,
also scorned flesh as a root of evil to be transcended, even
and as biblical scholarship on dance increased after the
mortified. Misunderstandings of Paul’s view of flesh, by
1960s, a sacred dance movement gave impetus to the resur-
which he meant to refer to the individual acting selfishly, led
gence of Christian congregational, choir, and solo dancing.
to negative attitudes toward the body in general that he did
Nevertheless, some Christian groups still ban dancing.
not share. Christianity’s rejection of the body reflects an in-
Islam generally disapproves of dancing as a frivolous dis-
ability to come to terms with the passing of time and with
traction from contemplating the wisdom of the Prophet. Its
death. Moreover that the body is the instrument of sex and
religious leaders look upon dancing with contempt.
of dance creates fear of unbridled arousal of the passions and
sexuality. Consequently, religious and secular totalitarian
The sacred and secular, the ritualistic and playful, and
governments try to exert control over dance.
the spiritual and sexual do not everywhere have the dichoto-
mous character so common in Muslim societies and in in-
Although the Greeks, Hebrews, and Christians took
dustrial societies, where specialization and separation are
part in ancient fertility and sustenance dances, some of these
hallmarks. For example, Hinduism generally merges the sa-
dances took the form of unrestrained, sensual rites. This per-
cred and the sexual in a felicitous union. As religion is about
ceived debasement of religion led to the periodic proscrip-
mystery, potential danger, hope of heaven, and ecstasy, so
tion of dance and to penalties against dancers. Legends of Sa-
too are sexual love and its ramifications. Rather than consid-
lome’s sensuous dance, for which she received John the
ering carnal love a phenomenon to be “overcome,” as in
Baptist’s head in reward (she either obeyed her revengeful
some Christian denominations, a strand of Hinduism ac-
mother in requesting this or expressed her anger about John’s
cepts sexual congress as a phase of the soul’s migration.
not reciprocating her sexual interest in him), have kept alive
Through the path of devotion (bhakti), a surrender to the
negative associations with dance. Some Christians hold any
erotic self-oblivion of becoming one, a man and a woman
glorification of the body, including dancing, an anathema:
momentarily glimpse spiritually and symbolically the desired
outspoken enemies of physicality with an ascetic dislike of
absolute union with divinity. This is a microcosm of divine
eroticism, which could undermine faith and unsettle the hi-
creation that reveals the hidden truth of the universe. The
erarchic status quo, they preach the ideal of the Virgin. West-
dance conveys this vision of life in telling the stories of the
ern philosophy and Victorian prudishness have not, howev-
anthropomorphic gods. Hinduism has a pantheon of deities
er, affected the Eastern Orthodox Church to the extent of
and is really a medley of hundreds of belief systems that share
eliminating dance in worship.
commonalities, as do Christian denominations. The su-
Because the nineteenth- and twentieth-century Europe-
preme, all-powerful God is manifest in a trio of divinities:
an industrializing nations that imperialistically dominated
Brahma, Vis:n:u (who appears in the incarnation of Kr:s:n:a, of
the world economy were largely Christian, this religion has
amorous nature and exploits), and S´iva (Lord of the Dance,
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who created the universe, which he destroys and regenerates
events, and processes. Of course, all religious dance may have
through dance). S´iva’s rhythms determine those of the
an entertaining element.
world. The classic Indian sacred treatise on dance, the Na¯t:ya
Creating and re-creating social roles. Often used as
a¯stra, describes dance as an offering and demonstration of
a means to legitimize social organization, religion may em-
love to God, a cleansing of sin, a path of salvation, a partak-
ploy dance as its agent to convey attitudes about proper so-
ing of the cosmic control of the world, and an expression of
cial behavior at the same time that it fulfills other purposes
God within oneself.
and functions. An example comes from Hinduism, which
has a rich ancient history in the arts and religion. Although
quently an element of the process by which symbolic mean-
both male and female royalty in early India may have been
ings related to the supernatural world of ancestors, spirits,
well versed in dancing, the Na¯t:ya a¯stra is the scripture of
and gods are exchanged among performers and spectators.
a male sage, Bha¯rata Muni, who upon receiving instruction
From the perspectives of various religions and the functional-
from the gods later handed it down through his sons. Recog-
ist, structuralist, feminist, and identity theories that view reli-
nizing that dance is symbolic, he thought danced enactments
gion as part of the larger social system, there appear to be
of myths and legends would give people guidance in their
eleven categories of dance, which are neither exhaustive nor
mutually exclusive. The specific dances referred to in the dis-
Male Brahmans (members of the priestly class) taught
cussion below are from different times and cultures, removed
dance to males who performed only as young boys (gotipuas),
from their rich historical and social contexts; they are chosen
to males who performed in all-male companies (kathakali),
to illustrate kinds of beliefs and acts.
and to women dedicated to serving in the temples
Explaining religion. Dance is part of ritual construc-
(devada¯s¯ıs). A dancer usually performs both male and female
tions of reality communicated to people so they may under-
roles and movement styles for the deities in private devotions
stand the world and operate in it. The lore of sacred and pro-
and at religious festivals involving the larger community.
fane belief, often intertwined, is told and retold in dance.
Some common religious dance themes are about male-
In early Christendom, dancing began as metaphor and
female relations. In the allegories of Ra¯dha¯ (loveliest of the
metonym for the mysteries of faith. During the first part of
milkmaids) and Kr:s:n:a (the eternal lover dancing in the heart
the Middle Ages, dancing accompanied Christian church fes-
of every man), for example, their illicit love becomes a spiri-
tivals and processionals in which relics of saints or martyrs
tual freedom, a type of salvation, and a surrender of all that
were carried to call attention to their life histories. Later, in
the strict Indian social conventional world values.
the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries, dance was
Human analogies explain Hindu divinity; conversely,
an accepted liturgical art form in mystery and miracle plays.
the tales of the gods—more powerful versions of men and
Elaborate dramatic presentations flourished in the Renais-
women with the same virtues and vices—provide sanctified
sance, but then printed tracts, pamphlets, and books and
models for human actions as well as fantasies with vicarious
other promotions of the ascendance of the mind began to
thrills related to cultural sexual taboos. Danced enactments
erode the importance of dance as a medium of religious ex-
of legends send messages of patriarchal dominance—that it
pression. The Jesuits sponsored ballet as honorable relaxation
is acceptable for men to lustfully wander outside of marriage,
in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries until its suppres-
whereas, in contrast, women are supposed to be faithful to
sion for being veiled political commentary.
their husbands, forgive them, and bear their children in spite
The Spanish Franciscans used dance dramas, especially
of the pain, risk of death, and agony from high infant mor-
those depicting the struggle of the church against its foes, to
explain the Christian faith to the illiterate New World Indi-
In the West Sepik District of Papua New Guinea, the
ans they hoped to convert. Pageants of Moors and Christians
Umeda people convey gender status through the annual Ida¯
were common. Appropriating indigenous Indian dances, the
dance, a ritual for sago palm fertility and a celebration of sur-
Franciscans suffused them with Christian meaning. Similar-
vival in the face of physical and mystical dangers. Although
ly, Muslims in East Africa at the end of the nineteenth centu-
the sexual division of labor is supposedly complementary, in
ry used indigenous attachment to the old Yao initiation
this dance the cultural creativity of men is pitted against the
dances to gradually introduce another dance that was regard-
biological creativity of women, and female culture is opposed
ed as an initiation into Islam.
and ultimately conquered by male culture.
Contemporary Western dance performances in places of
The myths and metaphors of religious codes present
worship, referred to as sacred, liturgical, or midrash dance
basic propositions concerning expected behavior between
(search for biblical meaning in the Torah through improvisa-
leaders and followers, other than relations between the sexes.
tional movement); public theaters; film; television; and on
Such codes are danced for all to see. The Indian kathakali
the internet perpetuate the tradition of dance explaining reli-
(in which feminine-looking boys learn to dance female roles)
gion. Choreographers present biblical scenes, incidents, and
draws upon the physical training techniques from Kerala’s
concepts in addition to religious philosophy, characters,
military tradition. This powerful and spectacular drama,
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

staged as a public ritual for the entire community, has been
tion from Illinois to Utah, discovered that dance was a means
claimed to be a reaction to foreign aggression and a reaffir-
to strengthen group morale and solidarity through providing
mation of the priestly and warrior social status, as well as an
emotional and physical release from hardship.
affirmation of masculine pride in matrilineal and matrilocal
In Orissa, India, the custom of small boys dancing
dressed as girls has coexisted with a female dance tradition
Dance in preconquest Mexico was devoted to deities
since the fifteenth century. The sakh¯ıbha¯va cult believes that,
and agricultural success; its performance, as well as its repre-
because Kr:s:n:a is male, the most effective way of showing de-
sentation in artifacts, appears to have served contemporary
votion is as a female, like the milkmaids (gop¯ıs) who dance
sociopolitical designs: to create, reflect, and reinforce social
their love for Kr:s:n:a.
stratification and a centralized integrated political organiza-
tion encompassing diverse, geographically dispersed ethnic
The Gogo of Tanzania dance the Cidwanga as a sign of
groups. Nobles, priests, and commoners, old and young,
reverence in the annual ritual for good rains and fertility.
male and female, each had distinct dances and spatial levels
Groups in Nigeria provide many illustrations of worshipful
for performing at the pyramid temple.
dance. The Kalabari believe that human beings make the
gods great. Fervent worship adds to a deity’s capacity to aid
Worship or honor. At regularly scheduled seasonal
the worshipers, and just as surely the cutting off of worship
times, at critical junctures, or just spontaneously, dances are
will render them impotent, or at least cause them to break
part of rituals that revere; greet as a token of fellowship, hos-
off contact with erstwhile worshipers. Among the Efik, the
pitality, and respect; and thank, entreat, placate, or offer pen-
worshipers of the sea deity Ndem briskly dance in a circle
itence to deities, ancestors, and other supernatural entities.
at the deity’s shrine to express metaphorically the affective
Not only may dance be a remedial vehicle to propitiate or
intensity of a wish, whether it be for a child or a safe journey.
beseech, it may also be prophylactic—gods may be honored
The brisker the dance, the more likely Ndem is to grant re-
to preclude disaster.
quests. Because the Ubakala Igbo dance to honor and propi-
Dance is a means of religious concentration as well as
tiate the respected living, it is not surprising that the spirits
of corporeal merging with the infinite God. The Jews dance
of the departed and other supernatural entities are also hon-
to praise their God in sublime adoration and to express joy
ored in this way. Some deities, such as the Yoruba S:ango,
for his beneficence. Hasidic Jews communicate with God
love to be entertained and can best be placated with good
through ecstatic dancing designed to create a mystical state.
Hebrew Scriptures refer to “rejoicing with the whole being,”
Like the human creatures they basically are, the ances-
as well as to specific dances performed for traditional festi-
tors of the Fon of Dahomey (or the other spiritual entities
vals. The God-given mind and body are returned to God
who are given anthroposocial attributes) are believed to love
through dance. As a result of the destruction of the Temple
display and ceremony. Thus both living and spiritual entities
in 70 CE Jews generally eliminated dance and song from reg-
are believed to watch a dance performance, and both catego-
ular worship until such a time as they could return from the
ries of spectators may even join the dancers, the latter often
Diaspora and rebuild the Temple. The Talmud, ancient rab-
doing so through possession. Supernatural beings are some-
binic writings that constitute religious authority for tradi-
times honored to ensure that they do not mar festivals.
tional Judaism, describes dancing as the principal function
of the angels and commands dancing at weddings for brides,
Conducting supernatural beneficence. Dance may be
grooms, and their wedding guests. Procreation is God’s will,
the vehicle through which an individual, as self or other
weddings a step toward its fulfillment, and dancing a thanks-
(masked or possessed), becomes a conduit of extraordinary
giving symbolizing fruitfulness. Even in exile there could be
power. Among the Ganda of Uganda, parents of twins, hav-
dancing, because out of the wedding might be born the Mes-
ing demonstrated their extraordinary fertility and the direct
siah who would restore the people to the Land of Israel.
intervention of the god Mukasa, danced in the gardens of
their friends to transmit human fertility supernaturally to the
In Christianity the Catholic Church allowed dances cre-
vegetation. Yoruba mothers of twins dance with their off-
ated for special occasions, such as the canonization of cardi-
spring and promise to bless all those who are generous with
nals or commemoration of their birthdays. Throughout
alms. Here the motional, dynamic rhythm and spatial pat-
Latin America, devotional dances are part of a pilgrimage
terns of dance transfer desired qualities to objects or indi-
and processional fiesta system that fuses Indian and Catholic
tenets. Dance training and production preparation are often
undertaken as part of a religious vow to a powerful saint, the
The men and women of Tanzania’s Sandawe people
Virgin, or a Christ figure. The Mormons believe that, when
dance by moonlight in the erotic PhekDumo rites to promote
engaged in by the pure of heart, dance (excluding the em-
fertility. Identifying with the moon, a supreme being be-
bracing-couple position of Western social dance) prepares
lieved to be both beneficial and destructive, they adopt styl-
the individual and community for prayer meetings or other
ized signs or moon stances; they also embrace tightly and
religious activity; devotion and recreation unite the individu-
mimic the act of sexual intercourse. The dance, metaphori-
al with God. Brigham Young, who led the Mormon migra-
cally at least, conducts supernatural beneficence.
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Because dance movement is metonymical with life
repression and guilt that oppose the erotic impulses so that
movement, dance parody of sorcerer-caused disease and
life may continue. The young boys’ highly lascivious tek-tek
death affects the ascendance of life spirits and health forces.
masked dances represent sexuality as well as the children who
The Tiv of Nigeria parody dropsy and elephantiasis through
are its desired fruits.
Dance mediates between childhood and adult status in
The Sun Dance of the hunting peoples of the Great
the Chisungu, the girls’ initiation ceremony of the Bemba
Plains of North America was an elaborate annual pageant
of Zambia. The women conducting the ceremony believe
performed during full summer, when scattered tribal bands
they are causing supernatural changes to take place as each
could unite in a season of plenty. Representatives danced to
initiate is “danced” from one group with its status and roles
renew the earth, pray for fertility or revenge for a murdered
to another. Among the Wan of the Ivory Coast, a man must
relative, and transfer medicine. The typical Sun Dance in-
dance a female initiate on his shoulders. During the initia-
volved a week of intense activity culminating in dramatic cli-
tion to an ancestral cult, the Fang of Gabon carry religious
mactic rites. Male dancers participated in accord with per-
statues from their usual places and make them dance like
sonal vows made previously for success in warfare or healing
puppets to vitalize them.
of a loved one. Each dancer strove to attain personal power.
Another form of status change occurs at death. The
Dancers were pierced through the breast or shoulder muscles
Ubakala perform the dance dramas Nkwa Uko and Nkwa
and tethered with thongs to the central pole of a ceremonial
Ese to escort a deceased aged and respected woman and man,
lodge altar. Staring at the sun, they danced without pause,
respectively, to become ancestors residing among the spirits,
pulling back until the flesh gave way.
later to return in a new incarnations. These forms are similar
Effecting change. Dance may be used as a medium to
to the dances in the Christian tradition that enable one to
reverse a debilitating condition caused by the supernatural
enter heaven.
or to prepare an individual or group to reach a religiously de-
Among the Dogon, death creates disorder. But through
fined ideal state. This includes status transformation in rites
the symbolism and orderliness of dance, humans metaphori-
of passage, death, healing, and prevention, as well as rites to
cally restore order to the disordered world. Symbolically spa-
reverse political domination.
tializing things never seen, the Dogon represent heaven on
The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Ap-
earth. So too at the time of death the mask dance helps to
pearing, commonly called Shakers because of their dramatic
mitigate the psychic distress and spiritual fear of the dead.
practice of vigorous dancing, believed that the day of judg-
The funeral dance of the Nyakyusa in Tanzania begins
ment was imminent. Numbering about six thousand mem-
with a passionate expression of anger and grief and gradually
bers in nineteen communities at its peak in the 1840s, the
becomes a fertility dance. In this way dancing mediates the
group held that salvation would come through confessing
passionate and quarrelsome emotions felt over a death and
and forsaking fleshy practices. Notwithstanding their pro-
the acceptance of it.
fessed attitudes toward the body, the first adherents were
seized by an involuntary ecstasy that led them to run about
Dances related to death were common in medieval Eu-
a meeting room, jump, shake, whirl, and reel in a spontane-
rope, a largely preliterate society dominated by the Christian
ous manner to shake off doubts, loosen sins and faults, and
church. It interpreted an economically harsh and morally
mortify lust in order to purify the spirit. In repentance they
complex world as a fight between God and the devil. Part
turned away from preoccupation with self to shake off their
of a convivial attempt to deny the finality of death, dances
bondage to a troubled past. This permitted concentration on
also had other manifestations and functions. In the so-called
new feelings and intent.
Dance of Death, a performer beckoned people to the world
beyond in a reaction to the epidemic Black Death (1347–
Dancing for the Shakers, who believed in the dualism
1373), a bubonic plague outbreak in Italy, Spain, France,
of spirit versus body, appears to be a canalization of feeling
Germany, and England. Evolving with the image of the skel-
in the context of men and women living together in celibacy,
etal figure seen as one’s future self, the dance was a mockery
austerity, humility, and hard manual labor. Shaker dance in-
of the pretenses of the rich and a vision of social equality.
volved a sequence of movements, designed to shake off sin,
The dance emphasized the terrors of death to frighten sinners
that paralleled the sexual experience of energy buildup to cli-
into repentance. Hallucinogenic and clonic cramp symptoms
max and then relaxation. Individualistic impulsive move-
of bread and grain ergot poisoning, called Saint Anthony’s
ments evolved into ordered, well-rehearsed patterns. Shaking
Fire, led some of its sickly victims to move involuntarily in
the hand palm downward discarded the carnal; turning
dancelike movements. Such people were believed to be pos-
palms upward petitioned eternal life.
sessed. Other victims sought relief from pain through ecstatic
For Buddhist Sherpa lamas, laymen, and young boys in
dancing, considered to be of curative value and efficacious
Nepal, dancing is a means by which they resolve the necessity
in warding off death. Dances were also connected with wakes
of simultaneously affirming and denying the value of worldly
for the dead and the rebirth of the soul to everlasting life.
existence. The spring Dumje ceremony purges the forces of
Dancing at the graves of family, friends, and martyrs was be-
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

lieved to comfort the dead and encourage resurrection as well
is usually accompanied by a devout state and altered con-
as protect against the dead as demons.
sciousness aided by autosuggestion or autointoxication
through learned frenzied movement that releases oxygen,
Gregory of Nazianzus, bishop of Constantinople, Tur-
adrenalin, and endorphins and sometimes promotes vertigo.
key, thought of dancing at the graves of martyrs as a means
Audience encouragement abets crossing the threshold into
to cast out devils and prevent sickness. Dance could also
another state of being. The dance itself is often characterized
trample vices and that which enslaves people and holds them
by a particular type of musical accompaniment. A possessed
devotee may achieve a consciousness of identity or a ritual
Among the Gogo, dance metaphorically effects a super-
connection with the supernatural iconically, metonymically,
natural change through role reversal in a curative and preven-
metaphorically, or experientially. Some practitioners retain
tative rite. When men fail in their ritual responsibility for
their own identities; others become the spirit—and self-
controlling human and animal fertility, disorder reigns.
identity depends on the spirit that animates the body.
Women then become the only active agents in rituals ad-
A supernatural possessor may manifest itself through the
dressed to righting the wrong. Dressed as men, they dance
dancer’s performance of identifiable and specific patterns
violently with spears to drive away contamination.
and conventional signs. In this way it communicates to the
The Hamadsha, a Moroccan S:ufi brotherhood, per-
entire group that it is present and enacting its particular su-
forms the hadrah, an ecstatic dance, in order to cure an indi-
pernatural role in the lives of humans. Thus fear of the super-
vidual who has been struck or possessed by a devil. They seek
natural entity’s indifference is allayed. Possession may alter
a good relationship with a jinni (spirit), usually EA¯Dishah. In
somatic states and cause a dancer’s collapse. The specific
the course of the dance, people become entranced and slash
characteristics of possession are culturally determined, and
at their heads in imitation of Sidi, EAli’s servant, who did so
even children may play at possession.
when he learned of his master’s death. A flow of blood is be-
There are four types of personal possession. Diviners,
lieved to calm the spirit. The Hamadsha women fall into
cult members, medicine men, and shamans are among those
trance more readily and dance with more abandon than the
who participate in the first type “invited” spirit mediumship
possession dances. Numerous African religions and their off-
Dance was an integral part of many American Indian
shoots in Haitian vodou and Brazilian macumba, as well as
religious revivals and reaffirmations in response to historical,
other faiths, involve the belief that humans can contact su-
economic, and political situations they wanted to change.
pernatural entities and influence them to act on a person’s
The northern Paiute and peoples of the Northwest Plateau
behalf. The worshiper takes the initiative and lends his or her
believed that ceremonies involving group dancing, a visible
body to the tutelary spirit when there is an indication that
index of ethnic and political alliances and action, would
the spirit wishes to communicate with the living or when the
bring about periodic world renewal. The Indians thought
devotee desires a meeting. As a sensorimotor sign, the dance
certain group dances had the power to end the deprivation
may indicate the deity’s presence or a leader’s legitimacy; as
that resulted from defeat at the hands of whites and bring
a signal, it may be a marker for specific activities. As a met-
about the return of Indian prosperity. The Ghost Dance reli-
onym, it may be part of the universe; and as a metaphor, it
gion incorporated Christian teachings of the millennium and
may refer to human self-extension or social conflict.
the second coming of Christ in order to attract acculturated
The Kalabari believe a possessed dancer invites a god as
a guest into the village. “Dancing the gods” is considered an
Mexican dance groups, known as concheros, danza Chi-
admirable achievement. Masquerade dancers may become
cimeca, danza Azteca, and danza de la conquista, originated
possessed, and in some cases the performer is expected to
in the states of Querétaro and Guanajuato as a response to
await possession before dancing. In possession dances the
the Spanish conquest in the sixteenth century. The groups
ability of Water People gods to materialize as pythons is ac-
may also be seen as “crisis cults,” syncretistic attempts to
cented as they metamorphose from acting like people to
create prideful cultural identity and new forms of social inte-
writhing on the ground and slithering about the house rafters
gration. Participants, at the low end of the socioeconomic
as the great snakes do. The oru seki (spirit) dancing occurs
scale and heavily represented in the laborer and shoe-shine
in the ritual to solicit a special benefit or to appease a spirit
occupations, adopt the nomenclature of the Spanish military
whose rules for human behavior have been infringed. Posses-
hierarchy and perform dances reenacting the conquest that
sion of the invoker, an iconic sign in the midst of the congre-
were derived from Spanish representations of the Moors and
gation, assures the spirit’s presence, power, and acceptance
Christians. The warlike dances involve women, the aged, and
of the invocation and offerings.
children as well as men.
Among the Ga of Ghana it is through a medium, whose
Embodying the supernatural in inner transforma-
state of possession is induced by dance, that the god signifies
tion: personal possession. Dance may serve as an activating
its presence and delivers messages prophesying the coming
agent for a specific kind of change: giving oneself temporarily
year’s events and suggesting how to cope with them. Posses-
to a supernatural being or essence. This metamorphic process
sion legitimizes leadership among the Fanti of Ghana. Be-
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

cause the deities love to dance, the priests assemble drum-
dance activates n/um, that potency from which medicine
mers, become possessed, and then speak with the power and
men derive their power to protect the people from sickness
authority of the deity. The Korean shaman attains knowl-
and death. The medicine dancer may go into trance and
edge and power in the role of religious leader through trance
communicate with spirits without being possessed by them.
possession induced by dancing.
The ceremonial curing dance may be called for in crisis situa-
tions, or the dance may occur spontaneously; it is redressive
Invited possession may be a mechanism for individuals
and prophylactic.
to transact social relationships more favorably. Healing prac-
tices often mediate the natural, social, and supernatural. In
Merging with the supernatural toward enlighten-
Sri Lanka’s Sinhala healing rites, an exorcist attempts to sever
ment or self-detachment. Illustrations of another form of
the relationship between a patient and malign demons and
inner transformation through dance come from Turkey and
ghosts. The exorcist’s performance of various dance se-
Tibet. In Turkey the followers of the thirteenth-century
quences progressively builds up emotional tension and gen-
poet-philosopher Mawlana Jala¯l al-D¯ın Ru¯m¯ı, founder of
erates power that can entrance both the healer and the pa-
one of Islam’s principal mystic orders, perform whirling
tient. Their bodies become the demonic spirit’s vehicle,
dances. Men with immobile faces revolve in long white shirts
constitute evidence of its control, and convince spectators of
with covered arms outstretched, slowly at first and then faster
the need, as the healer prescribes, for a change in social rela-
until they reach a spiritual trance. These men, the dervishes
tions that will exorcise the demonic spirit and transform the
(the word refers to a person on the threshold of enlighten-
patient from illness to a state of health.
ment), strive to detach themselves from earth and divest
themselves of ties to self in order to unite with a nonpersoni-
A second kind of possession dance, known as “invasion”
fied God. This process occurs through revolving movement
(also often a metaphor and signal of social pathology or per-
and repeated chanting that vibrates energy centers of the
sonal maladjustment) indicates that a supernatural being has
body in order to raise the individual to higher spheres.
overwhelmed an individual, causing some form of malaise,
illness, or personal or group misfortune. A deity or spirit who
The Tibetan Buddhist dance ritual called Ling Dro De-
manifests itself in specific dances identified with the super-
chen Rolmo permits imaging the divine. The dancer’s circu-
natural speaks or acts using the possessed’s body. Some cul-
lar path and turning movement aid the participants toward
tures—for example, in Africa, the Caribbean, the Middle
enlightenment by providing a means to realize that the deity
East, Brazil, and Korea—recognize that a person’s poor phys-
is a reflection of one’s own mind.
ical condition and related fear and helplessness may also be
Embodying the supernatural in external transforma-
associated with difficult social relationships that the person
tion: masquerade. Sacred masquerade dances, part of a peo-
feels helpless to remedy by himself or herself. Dance becomes
ple’s intercourse with the spirit world, make social and per-
a medium to exorcise and appease the being, thus freeing the
sonal contributions through symbolic actions that are similar
possessed individual and ameliorating his or her irksome as-
to those made through dances that explain religion, create
cribed status or difficult situation. Meeting the wishes of a
and re-create social roles, worship and honor, conduct super-
spirit as part of exorcism frequently imposes obligations on
natural beneficence, effect change, and involve possession.
those related to the possessed.
The Midimu masked dancing of the Yao, Makua, and
The vimbuza healing dance of the Chewa and Tumbuka
Makonde of Tanzania and Mozambique helps to explain re-
societies in Malawi is a socially sanctioned means of express-
ligion by marking the presence of the supernatural (ances-
ing those feelings and tensions that if otherwise broadcast
tors) in the affairs of the living. In effect, ancestors return
would disrupt family or community relationships. The dance
from the dead to rejoice on the occasion of an initiate’s re-
is medicine for the vimbuza disease, which causes terrifying
turn from the training camp. The Dogon’s masked-society
dreams or visions, the eating of unusual meat, or the uttering
dancing patterns depict their conception of the world, its
of a specific groan.
progress and order, and its continuity and oneness with the
total universe. Dance is thus a model of the belief system.
A third kind of possession, called “consecration,” in-
Participants in the Nyau society of Chewa-speaking peoples
volves initiation and the impersonation of a deity, during
dance a reenactment of the primal coexistence of people, ani-
which time the dancer becomes deified. In India the audi-
mals, and spirits in friendship and their subsequent division
ence worships the young performers in the Ra¯ma-l¯ıla¯s who
by fire. The people believe that underneath their masks the
play Kr:s:n:a, Ra¯dha¯, Ra¯ma, and other mythic heroes in the
dancers have undergone transformation into spirits.
same way they would revere icons. Performers of the Tibetan
Social roles are emphasized when the Yoruba’s Ge:le:de:
sacred masked dance, or Echam, are viewed as sacred beings.
society masquerade figures appear annually at the start of the
Not only may individuals be possessed by supernatural
new agricultural year to dance in the marketplace and
entities, they may also experience “essence possession,” the
through the streets. They honor and propitiate the female
fourth type, by an impersonal religious or supernatural po-
oris:a (spirits) and their representatives, living and ancestral,
tency. Among the Lango of Uganda, jok is liberated or gener-
for the mothers are the gods of society and their children are
ated in dancing. Similarly among the !Kung San of Namibia,
its members—all animal life comes from a mother’s body.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

Although both men and women belong to the Ge:le:de: cult
permitted in the Bedu masked dance mentioned above.
(to seek protection and blessings and assuage their fear of
There appear to be humor and an underlying feeling that
death), only men dance, with masks portraying the appropri-
these acts are socially acceptable and that through them par-
ate sex roles of each character. Mothers have both positive
ticipants will be purged of whatever negative emotions they
(calm, creative, protective) and negative or witch (unmitigat-
may harbor.
ed evil affecting fertility, childbirth, and the functioning of
The masked dancer may be an iconic sign, revered and
men’s sexual organs) dimensions. The mothers possess pow-
experienced as a veritable apparition of the being he repre-
erful ase (vital, mystical power). A man can have ase most
sents, even when people know that a man made the mask
fully when he is spiritually united with an oris:a. When men
and is wearing it. Because the Angolan Chokwe mask and
symbolically externalize the vital life forces in dance, they
its wearer are a spiritual whole, both in life and death, when
may be asserting their virility and freedom in the presence
a dancer dies, his mask is buried with him.
of the powerful mothers and, in addition, recognizing and
honoring their powers in order to appease them to ensure
Revelation of divinity through dance creation. With-
that they utilize their ase for male benefit.
in a Protestant Christian view, artistic self-expression is anal-
Among the Nafana of the Ivory Coast, masked dancing
ogized to the creative self-expression of God as creator.
occurs almost nightly during the lunar month of the year.
Dancing a set piece is considered a reflection of the unknow-
The dancing is intended to worship and effect change. Living
able God’s immanence, irrespective of the performer’s inten-
in the masks, the Bedu spirits bless and purify the village
tion. The dancer is to dance as God is to creation. The lan-
dwellings and their occupants and metaphorically absorb evil
guage of movement is God given, and both the progression
and misfortune, which they remove from the community so
of a dancer’s training and the perfection of performance re-
that the new year begins afresh.
veal God’s achievement. Within the Franciscan view, God
is present in good works and in the creative force of the arts.
The masked (antelope headdress) dance of the Bamana
Through dance rituals in Latin America, performers become
of Mali represents Chi Wara, the god of agriculture—a su-
one with creation. When an individual dances with exper-
pernatural being who is half animal and half man—who first
tise—individuality, agility, and dexterity—the Gola of Libe-
taught people how to cultivate the soil. Chi Wara’s public
ria consider this to be a sign of a jina’s gift of love given in
presence is an invocation of his blessings. In a concretized
a dream.
form that makes appeals more understandable to the young,
animal masked dances remind humans that they have some
Self-help. Many people wanting to stay well or to cope
animal characteristics, and participants respond to the danc-
with stress seek out nontraditional spiritual pathways. They
ers both positively and negatively. In this way the masked
draw upon teachings from different religions and borrow
dancing presents human foibles at a distance for examination
movements for their own spiritual dances. Some people seek
without threat to individuals, thus helping to effect change.
a “high” through vigorous dance and the release of endor-
Masked dancing can be a metaphor for both normative
and innovative behavior. Under religious auspices the dancer
Nonsacred theatrical and recreational dance. In many
is freed from the everyday restrictions on etiquette and thus
parts of the world that have become somewhat modernized
is able to present secular messages and critiques. Presented
and secularized, participants in nonsacred theatrical dance
by the unmasked, these messages might produce social fric-
often choose to explain religion, to convey or to challenge
tions or hostilities rather than positive change.
its models for social organization and gender roles, to effect
Among the Nsukka Igbo of Nigeria, the council of el-
change, and to honor the divine by infusing their dances
ders employed masked dancers representing an omabe spirit
with elements drawn from religions worldwide. Many folk
cult whenever there was difficulty in enforcing law and order.
dances associated with religious holidays or events have been
In Zambia, Wiko Makishi masqueraders, believed to be res-
transformed into commercial theatrical, nightclub, tourist,
urrected ancestors and other supernatural beings, patrol the
and museum productions—and into performances (by danc-
vicinities of the boys’ initiation lodges to ward off intruders,
ers other than the “folk”) for recreational purposes.
women, and non-Wiko.
Choreographers interpretatively embody religious
A Chewa man residing with his wife and mother-in-law
events in sensory storytelling or reflect theologically rooted
often resorts to the male masked Nyau dancer to mediate be-
affirmations and values without reference to specific stories
tween himself and a mother-in-law whose constant demands
in opera and dance concerts and on television and the Inter-
on him he resents. When the dancer dons the mask of the
net. Isadora Duncan, a pioneer of American modern (a form
Chirombo (beast), he directs obscene language against her.
of dance that originally reflected a rebellion against formali-
No action may be taken against him, for in his mask he en-
ty) viewed her dance as a prayer through which one could
joys the immunity of the Chirombo. Afterward, the mother-
become one with nature, itself sacred. Dance was an invoca-
in-law often reduces her demands.
tion for which Duncan desired audience participation. Yet
Socially sanctioned ritual abuse with ribald and lewd
women have mostly performed dances taught by male
movements and gestures in a highly charged atmosphere is
choreograpahers and interpreters, and thus helped to perpet-
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

uate both male dominance over females and stereotypes of
Bharata Muni. The Na¯tyasa¯stra: A Treatise on Ancient Indian
women as virgin or whore. Good women in the Bible are
Dramaturgy and Histrionics, Ascribed to Bharata Muni.
tainted by using seduction (e.g., Judith). Martha Graham,
Translated by Manomohan Ghosh. Calcutta, India, 1950.
another pioneer of modern dance, was a leader in choreo-
Important source of many forms of dancing in India.
graphing a woman’s viewpoint and dominance without
Bloch, Maurice. “Symbols, Song, Dance, and Features of Articula-
guilt. Dancers in India are modifying the movement and
tion: Is Religion an Extreme Form of Traditional Authori-
story line of the epics to assert feminist perspectives.
ty?” Archives Européenes de Sociologie 15 (1974): 51–81. A
claim that formalizing dance is a kind of power or coercion
Technology and religious practice. Access to new
by restricting options for expression.
technology is sometimes manifest in ritual, such as the ap-
Clive, H. P. “The Calvinists and the Question of Dancing in the
pearance of a telephone mask. Movements of contemporary
Sixteenth Century.” Bibliothèque d’humanisme et Renaissance
disco have been incorporated into possession dance. Televi-
23 (1961): 296–323.
sion broadcasts some rituals as they occur. There are replays
Coomaraswamy, Ananda K. The Dance of Shiva: Fourteen Indian
and documentaries. Among the Edo in Benin City, Nigeria,
Essays. New Delhi, 1971. Reprint ed. of The Dance of Shiva
videorecording capturing the span of real time became a
(New York, 1957). A discussion of dancing milkmaids as a
mandatory assertion of the importance of individual partici-
metaphor of human souls.
pants. Visibility may effect efficaciousness. Choreography
Crapanzo, Vincent. “The Hamadsh.” In Scholars, Saints, and
with the camera loses immediacy of the place of worship or
Sufis, edited by Nikki R. Keddie, pp. 327–348. Berkeley,
theater but gains excitement through access.
Calif., 1972. A description of the ecstatic dance of a Moroc-
can cult.
N SHORT. Dance is a barometer of theology, ideology, wor-
ldview, and social change within often overlapping categories
Cuisinier, Jeanne. La danse sacrée en Indochine et Indonésie. Paris,
of religious practice. Dance appears to be part of a cultural
code or logical model enabling humans to order experience,
Deren, Maya. Divine Horsemen: Voodoo Gods of Haiti. Foreword
account for its chaos, express isomorphic properties between
by Joseph Campbell. New York, 1970. An account of the
principles and many of the rites of an African-based religion.
opposing entities, and explain realities. Dance and religion
merge in a configuration that encompasses sensory experi-
De Zoete, Beryl. Dance and Magic Drama in Ceylon. London,
ence, cognition, diffused and focused emotions, personal and
1957. A description predating Kapferer’s A Celebration of
social conflicts, and technology. People dance to explain reli-
gion, convey sanctified models for social organization, revere
Drewal, Henry John, and Margaret Thompson Drewal. Ge:le:de::
Art and Female Power among the Yoruba. Bloomington, Ind.,
the divine, conduct supernatural beneficence, effect change,
1983. A description of masked dancing and gender relations.
embody the supernatural through internal or external trans-
formation, merge with the divine toward enlightenment, re-
Fallon, Dennis J., and Mary Jane Wolbers, eds. Religion and
Dance. Focus on Dance, vol. 10. Reston, Va., 1982. Twenty-
veal divinity through creating dance, engage in self-help, and
two articles primarily in the area of Western culture.
convey religious themes in secular theater and recreation.
Félice, Phillipe de. L’enchantement des danses, et la magie du verbe.
Permeated with religious tradition, dance continually
Paris, 1957.
Fergusson, Erna. Dancing Gods: Indian Ceremonials of New Mexico
SEE ALSO Darw¯ısh; Drama; Ghost Dance; Human Body;
and Arizona. New York, 1931. A descriptive presentation.
Ritual; Spirit Possession; Sun Dance.
Friedlander, Ira. The Whirling Dervishes, Being an Account of the
Sufi Order Known as the Mevlevis and Its Founder the Poet and
Mystic Mevlana Jalalu’ddin Rumi. New York, 1975. Includes
Adams, Doug. Congregational Dancing in Christian Worship. Rev.
numerous photographs and bibliography.
ed. Austin, Tex., 1980. Biblical, historical, and theological
Friedson, Steven. Dancing Prophets: Musical Experience in Tum-
perspectives provide the context for a discussion of dance
buka Healing. Chicago, 1996. An analysis of religious prac-
principles and practices.
tice in Malawi.
Adams, Doug, and Diane Apostolos-Cappadona, eds. Dance as
Gell, Alfred. Metamorphosis of the Cassowaries: Umeda Society,
Religious Studies. New York, 1990. Resources and explana-
Language, and Ritual. London, 1975. An insightful analysis
tion of dance and Scripture and women in dance and Scrip-
of ritual dances.
Gore, Charles. “Ritual, Performance, and Media in Urban Con-
Amoss, Pamela. Coast Salish Spirit Dancing: The Survival of an An-
temporary Shrine Configurations in Benin City, Nigeria.” In
cestral Religion. Seattle, 1978. A probing of the reasons for
Ritual, Performance, Media, edited by Felicia Hughes-
this revival within its new context.
Freeland, pp. 66–84. Association of Social Anthropologists
Andrews, Edward Deming. The Gift to Be Simple. New York,
Monographs 35. London, 1998.
1940. A description of the history, songs, music, and dances
Granet, Marcel. Danses et légendes de la Chine ancienne. 2 vols.
of the Shakers.
Paris, 1926.
Backman, E. Louis. Religious Dances in the Christian Church and
Griaule, Marcel. Conversations with Ogotemmêli: An Introduction
in Popular Medicine. Translated by E. Classen. London,
to Dogon Religious Ideas. London, 1965. A Dogon elder’s ac-
1952. A rich source of historical material.
count of his people’s cosmology.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

Hanna, Judith Lynne. The Performer-Audience Connection: Emo-
of the Christian church and its reawakened use in the twenti-
tion to Metaphor in Dance and Society. Austin, Tex., 1983.
eth century.
Discussion of religious attitudes that shape performance ex-
Tucker, JoAnne, and Susan Freeman. Torah in Motion: Creating
pectations, focusing on two forms of Hindu dance and a
Dance Midrash. Preface by Rabbi Norman Cohen. Denver,
black spiritual.
Colo., 1990. By asking pertinent questions about biblical
Hanna, Judith Lynne. To Dance Is Human: A Theory of Nonverbal
passages and then answering them through movement activi-
Communication. Chicago, 1987. A theory based on contem-
ties that illustrate and explicate their nuances, midrash enliv-
porary knowledge that explains how dance works and how
ens the Bible.
it can be studied. Extensive bibliography.
Wagner, Ann. Adversaries of Dance: From the Puritans to the Pres-
Hanna, Judith Lynne. Dance and Stress: Resistance, Reduction, and
ent. Urbana, Ill., 1997. A history of hostility toward dance
Euphoria. New York, 1988. Illustrations through history and
in the United States.
across geography of how danced religion helps people cope.
Hanna, Judith Lynne. “The Representation and Reality of Divini-
Waterhouse, David, ed. Dance of India. Toronto, 1998. Includes
ty in Dance.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 56,
feminist perspectives.
no. 2 (1988): 501–526. A discussion of different ways of
Wood, W. Raymond, and Margot P. Liberty, eds. Anthropology
manifesting divinity.
on the Great Plains. Lincoln, Nebr., 1980. Articles with bibli-
Kapferer, Bruce. A Celebration of Demons. Bloomington, Ind.,
ographies on the sun dance and the Ghost Dance religion.
1983. A descriptive analysis of the role of dance gesture and
style in ritual healing among the Sinhalese.
Leeuw, Gerardus van der. Sacred and Profane Beauty. Translated
by David E. Green. New York, 1963. Commentary on the
secularization of dance, believed by author to be the original
art form.
Lum, Kenneth Anthony. Praising His Name in the Dance: Spirit
Dance and religion have been intertwined in various ways
Possession in the Spiritual Baptist Faith and Orisha Work in
Trinidad, West Indies.
Studies in Latin America and the Ca-
through the centuries. The attitudes toward dance expressed
ribbean. Amsterdam, 2000. Based on traditional Yoruba reli-
in ancient Greek writings and the Bible are part of a philo-
gion in West Africa, the Spiritual Baptist Faith persons pos-
sophical legacy that has been influential throughout the in-
sessed by the Holy Spirit retain their own identity, whereas
tellectual and cultural history of the Western world. The an-
in Orisha Work, those possessed by oris:as (spirits) become
cient Greeks believed that dance was supreme among the
the spirits.
arts, indeed that it was fundamentally inseparable from
McKean, Philip F. “From Purity to Pollution? The Balinese Ket-
music and poetry. In the Laws, Plato writes that all creatures
jak (Monkey Dance) as Symbolic Form in Transition.” In
are prompted to express emotions through body movements,
The Imagination of Reality: Essays in Southeast Asian Coher-
and he notes that such instinctive response is transformed
ence Systems, edited by A. L. Becker and Aram A. Yengoyan,
into dance by virtue of a gift from the gods: rhythmic and
pp. 293–302. Norwood, N.J., 1979. A descriptive analysis
harmonic order. Other Greeks held the general belief that
predating Kapferer’s study.
dance was originally transmitted directly from the gods to
Oesterly, W. O. E. The Sacred Dance. Cambridge, U.K., 1923.
humans, and consequently that all dancing is a spiritual en-
An estimate of the role of sacred dance among the peoples
deavor. Whatever the origin of dance, classical historians
of antiquity and non-Western cultures.
maintain that religious rituals were indeed the source of
Paul, Robert A. “Dumje: Paradox and Resolution in Sherpa Ritual
many Greek dances, though dancing was not confined to rit-
Symbolism.” American Ethnologist 6 (1979): 274–304. A de-
scription of boys’ dances that represent sexuality as well as
uals or occasions of formal worship. Dance was also an inte-
the children who are the desired result of it.
gral part of Greek social life, as recreation and as a means of
Porter, Stanley E., Michael A. Hayes, and David Tombs, eds.
solemnizing events or experiences. The spiritual nature of
Faith in the Millennium. Sheffield, U.K., 2001. Catholic
dance was apparently considered so all-encompassing that
missionaries allow syncretism among northern Australian ab-
the Greeks made no rigid distinction between religious danc-
original Tiwi that respects both native and Christian ideo-
ing and secular dancing.
The Hebrew scriptures contain numerous references to
Rostas, Susanna. “From Ritualization to Performativity: The
the dance activities of the Israelites in biblical times. Dancing
Concheros of Mexico.” In Ritual, Performance, Media, edited
was an expression of joy in all realms of life, a celebration of
by Felicia Hughes-Freeland, pp. 85–103. Association of So-
cial Anthropologists Monographs 35. London, 1998. Rural
mental and corporeal fulfillment as well as a personal declara-
tradition is politicized by urban dancers who reject colonial-
tion of spiritual devotion. Modern scholars have debated
ist taint to favor indigenous identity.
whether dance was a part of actual religious rituals or formal
Sendrey, Alfred. Music in Ancient Israel. New York, 1969. Chap.
worship in the Jewish faith. Some believe that there was no
8 is about dance, verbs that express the act of dancing, and
role for dancing in the Temple or in performances of the reli-
the functions of dance.
gious officiants during services and ceremonies. Even so,
Taylor, Margaret F. A Time to Dance: Symbolic Movement in Wor-
dance clearly played a significant part in the public festivals
ship. Philadelphia, 1967. An overview of dance in the history
that accompanied the holy days. For example, the pilgrim-
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ages associated with seasonal festivals were sanctified by
As Peter Burke notes in Popular Culture in Early Modern
dancing, singing, and the playing of musical instruments
Europe (1978), by the sixteenth century European society
such as the harp. Also, the triumphs of the Jewish people over
was sufficiently stratified to be able to distinguish between
their oppressors were celebrated in victory parades with
the culture of the common people and the culture of the
dancing and special songs.
elite. The elite were a minority who had access to formal
scholastic training; they were the innovators and primary
By the dawn of the Christian era, two major factors af-
beneficiaries of such intellectual movements as the Renais-
fected the status of dance in the philosophy of the church
sance and the Enlightenment. The rest of society went about
establishment. The first was the tangible and immediate heri-
everyday life, molding and adapting time-worn traditions
tage of attitudes toward dancing found among the Jewish
and values to accommodate the inevitable shifts demanded
people; the second was the active dance traditions of the vari-
by social and economic change. It cannot be assumed, how-
ous pagan cults that were now converting to Christianity.
ever, that the common people were a homogeneous group,
The Christian community shared with the Jews the funda-
or that the elite educated minority did not participate in pop-
mental belief that dance was a means of expressing reverence
ular culture. Burke illuminates the complexity of these issues,
to God. The angels danced in heavenly joy, and mortals
noting the diversity of the common people: there were
danced to celebrate their faith. Many ancient pre-Christian
poorer peasants and richer peasants, freemen and serfs, uned-
customs found in European cultures were preserved (e.g., the
ucated laborers and literate merchants, rural dwellers and
practice of dancing at burial grounds) and coexisted along-
urban dwellers, religious sects and regional subcultures. The
side the new rites of the church. Other dance customs were
elite took part in a broad range of popular culture outside
actually integrated into Christian religious ceremonies. Reli-
the boundaries of their intellectual pursuits, if simply because
gious dances performed by the clergy included the ring dance
they were surrounded by that culture.
and the processionals that formed part of the various saints’
festivals. Other dances were performed only by members of
By the late eighteenth century factors such as dramatic
the congregation, including ribbon dances, ring dances ac-
population shifts, the radical expansion of commercial capi-
companied by songs and hand-clapping, and processionals.
talism, and the advent of industrialization contributed to the
Over the centuries as Christianity spread, local enthusiasm
disruption of traditional community life in many parts of
for dancing remained strong, and church officials were com-
Western Europe and the subsequent demise of many popular
pelled to limit the types of religious events in which dancing
traditions. In the same period, a new intellectual movement
was acceptable. Regional church authorities forbade dancing
took root in which the folk or rural peasants became increas-
in the house of the Lord: dancing would be permissible (to
ingly idealized in the eyes of the elite, and “folk culture” be-
varying degrees) only in the religious observances that took
came a national treasure embodying the survivals of the un-
place in public festivals outside the church structure itself.
corrupted national past. In the nineteenth century the
The fact that such restrictions were issued repeatedly indi-
anthropologist E. B. Tylor pointed to folklore, especially old
cates that they were not always obeyed, nor were they always
customs and beliefs, as providing evidence of the historical
enforceable in local communities.
development of primitive culture into civilized society. Folk-
lore materials were seen as the vestiges of primitive culture,
The continued strength and tenacity of dance customs
somehow preserved by the folk memory in the midst of an
in the face of the declining approval of church authorities
otherwise relatively civilized society.
suggest the depth of the fundamental Western belief in the
spiritual nature of dance. In Religious Dances (1952), Louis
This argument was supported further by comparing
Backman provides a chronicle of historical references that il-
folklore to parallel cultural elements found in existing primi-
lustrates individual dance forms and activities and their rela-
tive societies. Seemingly irrational folk beliefs or antiquated
tionship to the Christian church in various regions. The in-
folk customs were explained on the basis of their full-fledged
terconnection of dance and religion, however, must be
primitive counterparts; the original function and meaning of
considered in a context that extends beyond the confines of
the folklore survivals were considered equivalent to those of
official, formalized religion. The very definitions of folk
the related primitive practices, even when the forms or con-
dance and popular dance have developed from a spectrum
texts of performance differed greatly. Many scholars believed
of cultural beliefs that ranges from the organized religious es-
that primitive religion was the ultimate source of folklore be-
tablishment to the vernacular spirituality that animates ev-
cause religion played such a prominent role in primitive life.
eryday life.
If folklore was what remained of ancient pagan religion,
then it might follow that folk dance was what remained of
folk dance and popular dance did not enter common use until
ancient religious ritual. Yet it is curious that the genre of folk
the early twentieth century, the dance phenomena they de-
dance was neglected in the heyday of naming and document-
scribe have existed for centuries. Rather than referring to par-
ing folk cultural genres in the nineteenth century. There is
ticular dance choreography, folk dance and popular dance
no doubt that the folk were dancing, but most scholars men-
refer to the dancing found in certain social strata of European
tion dancing only in passing, generally in reference to season-
society in a certain period of history.
al or religious festivals or the celebration of rites of passage.
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This puzzle still remains to be explored fully, but two factors
Europe, the church had been waging campaigns to cleanse
can be suggested as important elements in this regard.
Christian ritual of any taints of paganism, of which dance
was one of the most insidious elements. Whatever their intel-
The first factor is that as a cultural commodity vying for
lectual creeds, nineteenth-century scholars in Europe and
scholarly attention, dance was of comparatively low status.
America were good Christian gentlemen and ladies, and
The young fields of folklore and anthropology were intent
there can be little doubt that the official religious prejudice
on establishing themselves as scientific pursuits, and toward
against dancing influenced scholarly perceptions. It is possi-
that end researchers were concerned with the task of generat-
ble that this Christian heritage contributed to a sense of dis-
ing texts. Dance was not a literary genre that could be re-
comfort with folk dance material, which in turn further dis-
corded in words, and unlike music it did not have associated
couraged researchers from working in that field.
with it a common form of notation. To be sure, scholars did
not hesitate to describe folk customs and celebrations in writ-
In the last decade of the nineteenth century, dance
ten accounts that were often illustrated with drawings and,
began to be considered with some seriousness. James G. Fra-
later, photographs. The first studies of the late nineteenth
zer included dance as one of the myriad customs examined
century that discussed dance in any detail used that type of
in his comparative treatise on magic and religion, The Golden
descriptive narrative: they presented dance customs, com-
Bough (1890). The development of the open-air folklife mu-
plete with notes on costumes, other related material para-
seum in Scandinavia with its focus on traditional folkways
phernalia such as swords, ribbons, sticks, or bells, unusual
gave impetus to the founding of the Friends of Swedish Folk
dramatic characters such as a man or woman impersonator
Dance in 1893. This was one of the first organizations of its
or a hobbyhorse, and the social event of which the dance ac-
kind, dedicated to the preservation and perpetuation of re-
tivity was a part. Yet very little explicit or technical descrip-
gional folk dances. Lilly Grove, in her history of dancing
tion was included of the actual dance forms or styles them-
(London, 1895), included whole chapters on national dances
selves. It seems that, while writing about dance customs was
and dance customs. English folklore journals published es-
certainly possible, the difficulty of rendering dance into doc-
says on seasonal festivities that discussed rustic examples such
umentary evidence hardly encouraged early scholars to invest
as maypole dancing and morris dancing. The year 1903, in
their intellectual enthusiasm in such an elusive genre.
saw E. K. Chamber’s The Mediaeval Stage (London), one of
the earliest uses of the terms folk dance and Volkstanz in a
The second factor in the scholarly neglect of folk dance
scholarly study, signalling a subtle shift in intellectual atti-
is that it was indeed believed to manifest the remnants of an-
tudes: dance was finally included in the rank of folk-
cient religious ritual. This is ironic because that type of con-
compound genres, and a whole group of dance forms and
nection with primitive culture would generally have been
customs associated with the romantic notion of the folk be-
considered a favorable quality in the evolutionary school of
came “folk dance.”
thought that considered folklore to be descended from an-
cient religion. In the case of dance, however, it may have
Throughout the early twentieth century, the concept of
contributed to some intellectual discomfort. By the nine-
the folk dance was codified through the collecting and pub-
teenth century, dance style was socially stratified, although
lishing of dance materials and through work in the now
the choreographic forms danced in the elite ballrooms were
growing fields of folklore studies and dance education. To
not dissimilar to those danced in peasant villages. The elite
differentiate certain important features of dance culture, par-
were responsible for infusing these dance forms with an edu-
ticularly the origin and transmission of dance forms and
cated and refined style of performance appropriate to their
styles and the contexts of dance performance, the term popu-
social class, for the physical abandon and overt emotionalism
lar dance began to be used. Folk dance referred to dances
displayed in much peasant dancing would have been judged
whose origins were obscured in ancient customs and ceremo-
quite improper, even uncivilized, by the upper classes. The
nies that derived from primitive religious ritual. Folk dances
contemporary observations of European missionaries and
were passed on from one generation to the next and were
travelers of wild, impassioned dancing in primitive societies
performed as part of traditional folk community festivals.
served as a graphic comparison to dancing in folk communi-
Though popular dances might be adopted into the folk rep-
ties in Europe and may have intensified the elite’s sense of
ertoire and performed in traditional contexts, they were not
a debasing impropriety of folk dance. More so than any other
native to the folk community. Popular dances originated
folk performance genre, dance may have seemed a bit threat-
from an external source, such as a foreign culture or a profes-
ening—too primitive and too close to home; for it could be
sional dance instructor. Popular dances were transmitted
argued that the only thing separating the dancing of the elite
through a broader variety of social relationships than would
themselves from the blatantly uncivilized dancing of the folk
generally have been included in the traditional folk learning
was a fine line of decorum. In addition, scholars were well
process; that is, people learned from non-community mem-
aware of the fact that the Christian clergy had long believed
bers, from strangers, or from dance teachers. Popular dances
that dance and dance customs (which nineteenth-century
were most often performed during recreational events orga-
scholars would have equated with folk dance) were the sur-
nized for the purpose of social dancing, often in a public set-
vivals of pagan religious rituals. For centuries, throughout
ting such as a dance hall. Folk dance was believed to be a pure
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

expression of national identity, whereas popular dance was
on the basis of context, belief, and—to a lesser extent—form.
a commodity in the aesthetic marketplace of a heteroge-
Religious dance is dance performed as part of religious wor-
neous, multicultural society.
ship, often taking place in the church or sanctuary. It is be-
lieved to be devotion incarnate, more than just a symbol or
The development of the concepts of folk dance and
gesture of piety. Common forms of religious dance include
popular dance is critical to a larger understanding of dance
the processional, circle, and solo individual dance. In perfor-
and religion. The very definition of folk dance is inextricably
mance the dancer seeks to express reverence and to interact
tied to Western ideas about the history of religion and
directly with the divine.
human culture. In the end, however, the definitions of folk
dance and popular dance have to do not so much with types
Ceremonial dance is a much broader category and in-
of dance activity as with the progression of intellectual judg-
cludes dancing that is part of a whole spectrum of celebratory
ments about social and economic class. According to the
events, from the religious to the secular. Religious events
nineteenth-century models on which they are based, folk
such as saints’ festivals and secular events such as civic pa-
dance is the dance performed by the folk, and popular dance
rades frame a continuum of events that manifest many types
is the dance performed by the working class, or bourgeoisie.
and degrees of spiritual belief. Celebrations such as Carnival,
These intellectual constructions are so romantically idealized
certain rites of passage, and seasonal festivities embody an
and oversimplified, however, that they do not reflect the cul-
ambiguous spirituality that lies somewhere between the sa-
tural reality of the time. Even if nineteenth-century peasants
cred and the secular, or perhaps encompasses elements of
had been the pristine, homogeneous group the folk were sup-
both. Ceremonial dance is believed to transcend the realm
posed to be, there was constant interaction between folk and
of everyday life, reaching toward a higher spiritual power, be
popular culture. Popular dances did circulate among rural
it a deity, luck, or art. Of any category, ceremonial dance em-
peasant communities and in some cases were regarded as hav-
braces the largest variety of dance forms including proces-
ing more prestige than older traditional forms because they
sionals, circle and line dances, various set formations, couple
were new, different, innovative, or exotic. Likewise, the
dances, and solo dancing.
dancing of the new working class was full of deeply embed-
Social dance, finally, refers to dancing that is performed
ded traditional elements: a foreign or popular dance form
for recreation, generally as part of events that are oriented
would be performed in the traditional, regional body move-
around leisure activity and social interaction. Social dance is
ment style of the performer, reflecting traditional concepts
believed to be the expression of the individual or a social rela-
of the body; a laborer who paid an admission fee to enter a
tionship and does not refer directly to any religious or spiri-
public dance hall would pursue social interaction with mem-
tual concept, except in one sense. In that dancing is consid-
bers of the opposite sex and different age groups according
ered artistic performance, it attends to the immanent
to traditional—and commonly shared—rules. Perhaps most
spirituality of art as a vehicle of power and meaning. The
importantly, the new popular dances were evaluated and ac-
forms of social dance include various group and couple for-
cepted on the basis of how well they satisfied current fash-
mations and solo individual dancing.
ions, but those fashions were at least partially rooted in a folk
aesthetic. The complexity of the historical interrelations be-
These three categories of dance—religious, ceremonial,
tween folk dance and popular dance and the disparity be-
and social—are somewhat fluid. Changes in one factor or an-
tween intellectual ideals and cultural reality must be consid-
other can result in a shift in category for a given dance. For
ered seriously.
example, with a change in context, social dance can become
ceremonial dance; with a change in belief, ceremonial dance
Fundamental beliefs about dance as a form of expresion
can become religious dance (this is what occurs in many cases
run deep in Western culture and have influenced the intellec-
when a dancer becomes “possessed” by a spirit or deity.)
tual fashions of every age. Whatever the criteria used to de-
Thus it is clear that dance cannot be considered an inanimate
limit folk dance and popular dance, it is in the meaning of
cultural object. Its significance must be assessed in perfor-
dance in vernacular culture that the relationship between
mance as it is actively employed in a social process. Following
dance and religion can be explored most profitably. Vernacu-
is a sampling of dance customs found in different cultures
lar dance, then, refers to dancing that is integral to the every-
in Europe, the Middle East, and the New World, illustrating
day life and beliefs of a given group of people, irrespective
primarily examples of religious and ceremonial dance.
of whether that dancing might also be classified as folk or
Europe. The religious revival movement of Hasidism
popular. Religion must also be contemplated in terms of ev-
developed in Europe in the eighteenth century. In reaction
eryday culture, ranging from the dogma of the official reli-
to the Jewish orthodoxy of the time, Hasidism emphasized
gious establishment to the traditional beliefs and practices
the individual expression of devotion that was within the
that embody spirituality.
means of every man and woman and not limited to those ed-
ucated few who were privileged to study the Torah. Dance
are three general categories of dance as it relates to religion
became a primary mode of religious expression, and as Hasi-
and spiritual values: religious dance, ceremonial dance, and
dism spread through eastern European Jewish communities,
social dance. Each of those categories can be distinguished
ecstatic dancing became an identifying marker of Hasidic
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

worship. In fact, critics of the revival sometimes mocked or
done only by the Ca˘lu¸sari and a final group dance in which
ridiculed the exaggerated dance style when voicing disap-
the villagers dance with the Ca˘lu¸sari. The exhibition dances
proval of religious extremism. Hasidic dance is religious
are of two types, one consisting of simple walking figures
dance in the fullest sense; it is a means of inspired communi-
done in circle formation, the second being a combination of
cation with God. Not only is dance and ritual movement a
complicated steps, jumps, and acrobatic leaps that demand
revered element of religious services but dancing infuses the
virtuosic skill from each dancer. In Ca˘lu¸s, dancing is an act
spirit of religious devotion into numerous other festivities
of magic, an inexorable part of the healing ritual and beliefs
and celebrations. A prominent form of Hasidic dance is solo
about supernatural forces.
improvisation, which sometimes consists of little more than
The Tuscan veglia offers an example of dancing that
simple shuffling steps or weight shifts, various distinctive
straddles the boundary between social and ceremonial dance.
body postures, and gestures of the arms and hands, which
The veglia is the traditional evening social gathering that is
are often raised above the head. Specific dance steps are not
held regularly through the winter season. This custom lingers
required, and any decorous movement performed with a
on to this day in some areas but was common throughout
spiritual intent can be acceptable. Group and couple forma-
Tuscany until a general decline that began in the 1970s. At
tions are also common, though men and women are strictly
the veglia, family and friends gather around the kitchen
segregated in all aspects of religious worship, including
hearth in rural homes, and amid general socializing and mer-
dance. Couple forms include simple variations of linking el-
riment, the performance of traditional narratives unfolds.
bows and turning, and of forward and back patterns; group
Through storytelling, children are instructed in the moral
forms include complex set dances in square and circle forma-
values of the community, young unmarried couples court
tions. The H:asidim have apparently never hesitated to adopt
each other with the singing of love songs, and the elders re-
dance forms from surrounding gentile cultures, and this pro-
flect on their experiences by exchanging tales of insight, hap-
cess continues in Hasidic communities today.
piness, and woe. Though the veglia is primarily a social occa-
One end of the spectrum of ceremonial dance, that
sion, it also has ceremonial qualities: it is a seasonal event;
which is associated with the religious or sacred, is found in
it is only open to people who have a certain relationship to
the Romanian ritual Ca˘lu¸s. For approximately one week be-
the host family; there are prescribed rules for social inter-
ginning on Whitsunday, the villagers of southern Romania
course between age groups; and there is a particular sequence
observe Rusalii, a period when the spirits of the dead are be-
that is appropriate for the performance of certain artistic
lieved to return to be among the living. Also during this peri-
genres. The veglia is a time of heightened social interaction
od, evil forces are believed to be unusually threatening, and
defined by a community reverence for traditional values and
various types of behavior are restricted or forbidden in efforts
a group negotiation of the boundaries of artistic perfor-
to ward off the illness caused by being “possessed by Rusalii.”
Such an illness can only be cured through the ritual Ca˘lu¸s.
Though dancing takes place throughout the year except
In addition to the general healing and protective properties
during Lent, Carnival season is especially devoted to dance
of Ca˘lu¸s, the ritual is also seen as a source of good luck and
events. The “Carnival veglia” is often organized by the young
fertility. Handerkerchiefs or small articles of clothing are
unmarried men, who arrange for a suitable location, hire a
sometimes attached to the dancers’ costumes in hopes that
musician, and provide refreshments. They then invite young
they will be imbued with this luck, which is then brought
women to the dance, who always come accompanied by a
back to the owner of the object. Likewise, threads from the
chaperon. At other times, the dance veglia is hosted by a
dancers’ costumes are throught to be charmed, and specta-
given household, in which case one’s attendance is depen-
tors often pluck them in hopes of deriving some magical ben-
dent on being acquainted with the family and garnering an
efit. Ca˘lu¸s involves a complex of performance genres, materi-
invitation. In either case, the dance veglia is specifically an
al culture, and beliefs, and it is believed they work together
event for the young to socialize. Every year during Carnival,
to effect some modicum of human control over nature and
the landlords hold a dance party to which people of all social
the supernatural.
classes are invited. Peasants and landowners dance together
as equals, temporarily nullifying class differences.
In Ca˘lu¸s, women of the community sing long, emotion-
al laments in the traditional manner to maintain contact be-
There are also two instances when the dance veglia is
tween the dead and the living. All the dancing, however, is
held in a public hall. In one case, the young men arrange for
performed only by a select group of men, the Ca˘lu¸sari. These
a dance party to be held on a Sunday afternoon following
men are all highly skilled dancers and must take an oath not
the religious service. This dance is semi-secretive in that it
to reveal the secrets of Ca˘lu¸s and to obey certain behavioral
is not announced formally in the community, thereby allow-
interdictions. Dancing is a primary vehicle of ritual magic
ing the young women to attend without the knowledge of
and healing and is performed with great seriousness and
their mothers and chaperons. A public hall is also the setting
sense of responsibility. The Ca˘lu¸sari visit each house in the
for the special dance parties that are held on the three most
village, dancing in the courtyard to a group of eager specta-
important days of the Carnival period. These are organized
tors. The performance includes exhibition dances that are
by private social clubs whose members are confined to repre-
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

sentatives of the families from a given village. The young
tradition” in Islamic religion. The “great tradition” refers to
people dress in elaborate finery, the men in dark suits with
the tenets of official religion based on the sacred written
white gloves, the women in special outfits that are supposed
texts. The “little traditon” refers to the belief systems sur-
to have never been seen before. The proceedings of the dance
rounding the veneration of saints, the control of evil spirits,
event are directed by the caposala, who is a well-known and
and other spiritual endeavors. The beliefs and customs of the
respected man from the community. The caposala formally
little tradition are not specified in the official religious texts
presides over the various and sundry forms of social interac-
and are, in fact, frowned upon by some religious function-
tion. He coordinates the sequence of dances, dance and
aries. They are, nonetheless, an integral part of everyday reli-
courting games, and dancing competitions, and he serves as
gious prescriptions of devotion. It is in this little tradition
a matchmaker, employing both overt and covert methods to
of vernacular spirituality that we find dance customs related
bring certain young couples together to dance and enforcing
to religious life. There are few studies that discuss dancing
the etiquette that demands that no favoritism be shown in
in Muslim and Jewish communities, and virtually none that
choosing dancing partners so that all the young women have
examine Christian settlements. Even these limited materials,
at least one dance with each young man. He also maintains
however, suggest some cultural consistency or interrelation-
peaceful social equilibrium, settling any dispute and expel-
ship between customs, and possibly dance forms, found
ling troublesome participants. These dance veglie often last
among different religious groups in the Middle East. It re-
until dawn, although the party held on the final night of Car-
mains for future research to explore fully the implications of
nival ends promptly at midnight, which marks the beginning
ethnicity, religion, and regionality on artistic performance.
of Lent. The last part of the Carnival season was, in years
past, distinguished by the appearance of two costumed char-
The “little tradition” of many Muslim communities in-
acters. The first of these masked men, dressed in fancy black
cludes a type of ceremonial dancing that plays a key role in
formal attire, was the incarnation of Carnival itself, and he
a ritual process of exorcism known as the za¯r. Though found
arrived just in time to dance the last dance of the evening.
in several Middle Eastern countries, the za¯r appears to be
The second man entered at midnight, cloaked in a long gray
most well known and vital in the Nile region, particularly
coat decorated with smoked herrings; he was the embodi-
in Egypt. The spirit that must be exorcised in the za¯r ceremo-
ment of Lent, and he brought the festivities to a ceremonious
ny is also known as za¯r. The za¯r ceremony is performed to
cure an individual of spirit possession. Though anyone is po-
tentially vulnerable to possession, women are the most com-
The dance forms performed at a veglia are always the
monly afflicted. It is believed that pure spirits are ever pres-
same and are always danced in a particular sequence. The
ent, wandering around the earth. These spirits demand
first dance is a polka, followed by a mazurka, a waltz, and
respect, and humans are required to observe rules of spiritual
a quadrille. The quadrille was considered the climax to the
etiquette, such as giving thanks or asking permission for cer-
dance sequence, as it involved a variety of complicated steps
tain actions. Pure spirits can impose good or evil upon
and patterns and allowed the greatest opportunity for flirting
human beings, but it is believed that committing some in-
during the changing of partners. Recently, other couple
fraction or allowing a breach in deferential protocol will pro-
dances have been inserted after the waltz, such as the tango
voke a spirit to possess an individual and wreak punishment.
and the one-step. All of these forms are popular dances, and
Such possession can manifest itself in a variety of physical
though they are all based on folk dance forms to varying de-
and mental symptoms, such as chronic aches and pains in
grees, none is specifically native to Tuscany. Despite the fact
certain body parts, general indolence, allergies, rheumatism,
that these dances have been, at some point in history, im-
epileptic fits, and different feminine complaints, including
ported into the Tuscan countryside from some foreign
source, they have been unabashedly adopted into the com-
munity repertoire and through generations of performance
The za¯r ceremony requires the services of two important
have become thoroughly naturalized. The dancing that takes
ceremonial functionaries, as well as an ensemble of musi-
place at a veglia is social dancing in the most straightforward
cians. One role is that of the shaykhah, who is a spiritual in-
sense: young men and women dance together to be with each
termediary. Through consultations, divination, and the pre-
other, confirming and expanding an everyday relationship.
scription of different types of ritual behavior, the shaykhah
It can also be considered ceremonial dancing by virtue of its
ascertains what is needed to appease and expel the spirit. The
central role in the veglia, transforming everyday life and so-
second role is that of the munshidah, who is a singer versed
cial interaction into festivity and artistic performance.
in the specialized traditional repertoire of za¯r songs. The
munshidah sings different songs throughout the ceremony,
MIDDLE EAST. The Middle East is the birthplace of three
entreating the spirit to make itself known and interact with
of the world’s major religions—Judaism, Christianity, and
the shaykhah. Both the shaykhah and munshidah are generally
Islam—and home to a variety of regional cultures and lin-
hereditary roles passed on from mother to daughter.
guistic groups. Though all three religions and their subde-
nominations are found in the Middle East today, Islam pre-
The za¯r ceremony itself can last anywhere from one to
dominates. In The Middle East (1976), anthropologist John
several days, depending on the wealth of the possessed
Gulick distinguishes between the “great tradition” and “little
woman who has come for help. The “patient” must follow
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

the advice of the shaykhah to wear special garments and orna-
ing the importance of the event being celebrated at the time.
ments or to consume certain foods and drinks. The patient
Their song texts were sung in local Yemenite Arabic dialect
provides whatever offerings the shaykhah determines are nec-
and were performed by the women as they danced. Though
essary, generally a combination of a few fowl and pieces of
the women’s songs were less overtly religious, the dancing of
gold or silver jewelry. At sunset, a large circular table is cov-
both men and women was considered a means of rejoicing
ered with an elaborate meal, accompanied by chants and spe-
and of honoring the celebrants.
cial songs. At two o’clock the following morning, the animals
are ritually slaughtered according to Islamic custom, and the
NEW WORLD. Among the European cultures in the New
possessed woman is smeared with the warm blood. The next
World, the religious sect known as Shakers offers a unique
day the za¯r ceremony continues as the shaykhah guides the
example of religious dancing in community worship. The
patient through various rituals while the munshidah sings the
Shakers originated in England in the mid-eighteenth century
appropriate songs.
and settled in America shortly before the Revolution. They
held that the second appearance of Christ was imminent and
The emotional climax of the ceremony is reached when
that true believers must follow certain tenets in order to tran-
the possessed woman starts to dance. Individual spirits are
scend wordly existence and achieve everlasting life. The
associated with distinctive rhythmic patterns, and as the mu-
foundations of Shaker faith were observed through keeping
sicians play a particular beat the possesed woman will be
apart from the world at large, the two sexes living separately
drawn to dance. The dancing is frenzied and ecstatic, and the
and remaining celibate, sharing all property in common, dili-
dancer speaks in the voice of her possessing spirit. The spirit
gently pursuing craftwork with their hands, and worshiping
makes demands that the shaykhah must then interpret and
with joyful abandon. The early Shakers were overcome with
satisfy. The dancing continues and the excitement builds as
ecstasy in their worship and were given to fervent and eclectic
the musicians, munshidah, and shaykhah encourage the danc-
displays of divine inspiration including speaking in tongues,
er, who will dance until she is thoroughly exhausted. The
whirling or shaking, singing song fragments, shouting, and
dance is always a solo improvisational form, consisting of
torso bending and swaying, head and arm gestures, and some
simple stepping and floor patterns. The dancing performed
As the sect grew and developed, their deranged array of
in the za¯r ceremony is considered a vehicle for the spirit to
spiritual responses was institutionalized into orderly forms of
express itself and a critical cathartic element in the process
song and dance. Though the expression of their religious zeal
of exorcism.
was largely disposed to tidy devotional exercises, the Shaker’s
Yemenite Jewish culture provides a vibrant example of
faith was no less impassioned. Dancing was considered a
the range of dance activity in the religious and spiritual life
spiritual gift, or the “work of God,” which they were most
of a community. Jewish communities in Yemen were among
happy to receive. Devotional dancing was also believed to
the most isolated in the Middle East, and many ancient cus-
function as a means of expelling and pacifying carnal desires,
toms were preserved as an ongoing part of daily life. For ex-
thereby allowing a pure bodily manifestation of faith. There
ample, religious dancing was an integral part of the observa-
were instances of individuals dancing by themselves while re-
tion of certain holidays, such as Simh:at Torah. In celebration
ceiving the spirit, but most Shaker dancing was performed
of the yearly cycle of reading the Torah, the congregation
in large groups consisting of all the able-bodied Believers.
sang special verses of the pizmon, which are religious texts
Men and women formed separate lines or circles and danced
sung only in the synagogue. Along with their joyous, exuber-
a variety of floor patterns and simple figures. There were
ant singing, the congregation danced around with the Torah
dances in square and circle formations as well as procession-
scrolls, carrying them from the central desk of the synagogue,
als and sacred marches. Many of the dance patterns were said
where they were placed for reading, back to the ark, where
to have originated in spiritual visions and dreams received
they were stored. The dancing consisted of simple walking
by the Shakers and were imputed with specific symbolic
steps without much elaboration or stylization, but the danc-
meanings illustrating Shaker beliefs.
ing was considered an expression of devotion to Jewish reli-
The population of the New World is a panoply of dif-
gious law as written in the Torah.
ferent cultural groups, with a broad spectrum of religious be-
There was also ceremonial dancing in Yemenite Jewish
liefs and customs. Over the centuries different cultures have
communities. Celebrations and rites of passage such as cir-
come into contact, influencing each other to varying degrees.
cumcisions or the two weeks of preparations and festivities
Rather than dissolving into a homogeneous mass, however,
that accompanied a wedding were commemorated with
distinct aspects from different cultural traditions were re-
dancing and singing. Traditionally, men and women danced
blended into new creole forms. These creole cultures, lan-
separately, each to the singing of special dance songs and the
guages, or performance traditions often contain elements
playing of a drum. The dance songs sung by the men had
that can be easily identified and traced to specific Old World
fixed religious texts in Hebrew, Aramaic, or literary Arabic
origins, but the new incarnation is not an exact replica of the
and were performed by two singers who sat apart from the
original. In all cases, there has been change, development,
dancers. The women sang songs about everyday life, includ-
and adaption to suit new conditions and social contexts.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

One of the most dramatic examples of this reblending
dance, seeking to achieve greater spiritual power through ar-
process is found in Afro-American culture. The historical cir-
tistic performance. The dancing in vodou worship that is as-
cumstances of the slave trade threw together Africans from
sociated with possession is undeniably religious dancing, as
several different national territories in west Africa, including
it is the actual practice of religious belief and devotions.
at least five major cultural groups. The intermingling of dif-
ferent African traditions and beliefs has yielded an array of
SEE ALSO Carnival; Folklore; Folk Religion; Shakers;
new Afro-American forms, which have also intermingled
with other non-African traditions according to regional and
historical conditions.
A well-rounded and detailed study discussing the nature of dance
The vodou religion practiced in Haiti is one instance of
in Greek civilization is Lillian B. Lawler’s The Dance in An-
this intermingling of African and non-African traditions. It
cient Greece (London, 1964). This book also outlines the im-
incorporates a synthesis of different African beliefs and ritu-
portant Greek philosophical tenets that have influenced
Western ideas about dance. A good historical study of literary
als that further interface with Roman Catholic practice and
references to dancing and Christianity, especially focusing on
symbolism. Vodou is based on a complex mythology that re-
the dance epidemics, is Eugène Louis Backman’s Religious
lates major gods to lesser divinities. These spirits are called
Dances in the Christian Church and in Popular Medicine,
lwa, a Kréyol term, and they include ancestor spirits, gods
translated by E. Classen (London, 1952). An excellent intro-
and goddesses of nature, a trickster, a god of creativity, and
duction to the history of popular culture and folk culture is
a supreme god who presides over all the others. Every spirit
Peter Burke’s Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe (New
has an individual personality and is associated with certain
York, 1978). This book also has a very useful bibliography.
domains of everyday life or spiritual well-being. To ensure
The classic work that epitomizes the nineteenth-century study of
the goodwill of the lwa and be taken under their protection,
comparative religion and ideas of cultural evolution is James
a person must be initiated into the spiritual society. A priest
G. Frazer’s The Golden Bough, 3d ed., rev. & enl., 12 vols.
or priestess, known as hungan, coordinates the ceremonies
(London, 1911–1915). Though his source materials are
and rites that take place in their sanctuary and tends to com-
quite uneven, Frazer includes a multitude of references to
munity needs requiring divination, exorcism, and healing.
dance-related customs. A further elaboration of evolutionary
ideas is found in Curt Sachs’s World History of the Dance,
Vodou ceremonies and dances are generally performed
translated by Bessie Schönberg (New York, 1937). While
in a covered shed that has a post standing in the center of
this book has been used as a standard text for many years and
the floor space. This center post is considered the means by
offers interesting examples of dance customs, it ignores twen-
which the spirits descend into the peristyle. Though the spir-
tieth-century developments in the study of human culture
and restates outdated nineteenth-century philosophy. One of
its communicate with initiates through symbolic dreams and
the few examinations of dance by a historian of religions can
visions, they commonly possess people and make their will
be found in Gerardus van der Leeuw’s Sacred and Profane
known. Each spirit expresses itself through a distincitve rep-
Beauty (New York, 1963).
ertoire of speech mannerisms, body movements, special
Additional source material on the history of folk dance, popular
dances, and a predilection for certain objects, such as a hat,
dance, and vernacular dance is discussed in my article “Folk-
bottle, or stick. It is said that a spirit “mounts” its “horse”
dance,” in the International Encyclopedia of Dance (New
when a person becomes possessed; the person is a vehicle for
York, forthcoming). One of the first works to develop the
the spirit, an expressive body through which the spirit inter-
concept of vernacular dance is Marshall Stearns and Jean St-
acts with the crowd and other spirits. Possession behavior is
earns’s Jazz Dance: The Story of American Vernacular Dance
regarded as tangible evidence of a spirit’s personality and
(New York, 1964). A varied collection of short essays is The
temperament, and watching the possessed during vodou cer-
Chasidic Dance, edited by Fred Berk (New York, 1975). Of
emonies is believed to be an important way for potential ini-
particular interest in that collection is the article by Jill Gel-
tiates to learn about the spirits.
lerman, “With Body and Soul: The Dance of the Chasidim”
(pp. 16–21), which recounts the contemporary practices of
Dancing and possession are closely interrelated. Three
Hasidic communities in Brooklyn, New York. A recent
dances are performed to honor each spirit, accompanied by
monograph that offers detailed description and analysis
songs and the playing of a drum ensemble. Rhythm acts as
based on first-hand observations is Gail Kligman’s Ca˘lu¸s:
a kind of supernatural intermediary and entices the spirits
Symbolic Transformation in Romanian Ritual (Chicago,
1981). A delightful account of traditional social life, which
themselves to dance. Each spirit has its own particular dances
includes a collection of song and narrative texts, is Alessandro
through which it reveals its power and aesthetic agility.
Falassi’s Folklore by the Fireside: Text and Context of the Tus-
Dancing is considered a ritual act on several levels. In one
can Veglia (Austin, 1980). A good introduction to the culture
sense, dancing is held to be a gift, performed by initiates as
of the Middle East written from an anthropological perspec-
an offering to please the spirits. In another sense, dancing is
tive is John Gulick’s The Middle East (Pacific Palisades,
believed to be a means of divine communication by which
Calif., 1976). This book contains useful annotated bibliogra-
a spirit imparts its essence or intentions to a devotee. On yet
phies after each chapter.
another level, dancing is transcendental, in that aesthetic ful-
There are very few sources on dance in the Middle East, but a
fillment has spiritual significance. Both humans and spirits
good overview is found in Lois Ibsen al-Faruqi’s “Dance as
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

an Expression of Islamic Culture,” Dance Research Journal 10
chronologically and based their evaluations upon traditional
(Spring-Summer 1978): 6–13. Two short studies that con-
aesthetic criteria; and dance ethnologists and anthropologists
tain interesting history and illustrations are Metin And’s
who focused on the cultural role(s) and effects of dance.
“Dances of Anatolian Turkey,” Dance Perspectives 3 (1959):
Ironically, the historians and critics traditionally concentrat-
5–76, and Morroe Berger’s “The Arab Danse du Ventre,”
ed their research efforts on the West while the ethnologists
Dance Perspectives 10 (1961): 4–67. Two longer studies that
and anthropologists considered the non-western countries.
offer detailed descriptions and contextual information based
The now classic hierarchy of dance forms from ballet
on contemporary observations are Magda Ahmed Abdfel
Ghaffar Saleh’s A Documentation of the Ethnic Dance Tradi-
through ballroom continues to function. However, since
tions of the Arab Republic of Egypt, 2 vols., Ph.D. diss., New
1987 attention has been paid to the expanding universe in-
York University (Ann Arbor, 1979), and Shalom Staub’s The
spired by gender studies, cultural attitudes toward the body,
Yemenite Jewish Dance, M.A. thesis, Wesleyan University
and the inclusion of the marginalized—that is, those who for
(Ann Arbor, 1978).
reasons of race, ethnicity, gender, or class were omitted from
The classic work on the Shaker sect remains Edward Deming An-
earlier academic research and thereby the history of civiliza-
drew’s The Gift to Be Simple: Songs, Dances, and Rituals of the
tion. This transformation can be partially credited to the al-
American Shakers (New York, 1940). A revealing examina-
most simultaneous airing of the eight-part television series
tion of Afro-American art and the process of creolization,
Dancing! with its companion volume (1992) and the publi-
much of which is in relation to religion, can be found in
cation of the multi-volume International Encyclopedia of
Robert Farris Thompson’s Flash of the Spirit: African and
Dance (1998).
Afro-American Art and Philosophy (New York, 1981). A clas-
sic study in the field of Afro-American religion remains Al-
Throughout the 1990s, the oral history project of the
fred Métraux’s Voodoo in Haiti (New York, 1959).
Dance Collection of the New York Library for the Perform-
ing Arts has expanded its efforts into the collecting, support-
ing, and curatoring of the interviews, papers, ephemera, and
film related to both popular and folk dance. In particular,
the Dance Collection received funding support to coordinate
with the Smithsonian Institution the videotaping of the
American Folklife Festivals.
Traditionally, dance scholarship has privileged classical and
As an artistic, religious, and social practice, popular and
theatrical dance over popular and social dance. Folk dance
folk dances generate a cultural and political identity for both
has been viewed since the nineteenth century as a special case
dancer(s) and audience. These forms of dance have garnered
study in expressions of group identity and of interest for spe-
the attention of folklorists, anthropologists, and historians of
cialists in folklore, mythology, and ritual. Popular dance has
religion who typically study the interrelations among the
been a study in class distinctions and in modes of transmis-
arts, mythology, and dance of indigenous peoples as a way
sion, especially with regard to the ever-widening forms of late
of learning and communicating cultural values and religious
twentieth-century mass media. The dearth of scholarly pub-
identity. Some expansions of the traditional boundaries of
lications related to popular and folk dance continues even
the interdisciplinary nature of the study of the religious con-
among dance ethnologists and anthropologists.
nections with folk and popular dance have expanded into the
Dance anthropologists Joanne W. Kealiinohomoku and
realms of American Studies, Performance and Display, Pop-
Adrienne Kaeppler and dance sociologists like Helen Thom-
ular Culture, and Religious Studies.
as, have found that dance—like language, art, and religion—
NEW PERSPECTIVES. Both from the perspective of religious
is found in all human societies. Popular and folk dances are
studies and dance theory, the primary objective is to remove
powerful forces in the shaping and experiencing of culture
the “stigma of entertainment” from any intellectual analysis
and values, but these terpsichorean modes are culturally dis-
of either social or folk dance. The varied interpretations of
tinct idioms, such as in Mircea Eliade’s discussion of the
the body and performance in contemporary scholarship may
ca˘lu¸suri (1985).
proffer a methodology for dance as kinesthetic modes for the
However, the fundamental difficulty for any form of ac-
politics of identity and difference. The category of “vernacu-
ademic research is that the vehicle for dance is the human
lar dance” (Spalding, 1995) has opened the borders within
body, so that the ephemeral nature of dance presents a diffi-
which dance had functioned and promises to re-shape the
culty for “objective” analysis, as do the varied cultural atti-
meaning and values of popular and folk dance for a new gen-
tudes toward the body. Further, all forms of popular dance,
eration of scholars.
whether as a formal social dance such as the waltz or as infor-
SEE ALSO Carnival; Folklore; Folk Religion, overview arti-
mal and fleeting as teenage dance crazes, are perceived more
cle; Performance and Ritual; Shakers; Vodou.
as an “entertainment” than as a historically significant sub-
ject for scholarly attention.
Into the 1980s, dance scholarship had been divided into
Carty, Hilary S. Folk Dances of Jamaica: An Insight. A Study of Five
two groups: dance historians and critics who operated
Folk Dances of Jamaica with Regard to the Origins, History,
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

Development, Contemporary Setting, and Dance Technique of
that the latter is closely tied to religion, while dance in the
Each. London, 1988.
West, especially theatrical dance, has developed outside reli-
Desmond, Jane C. Meaning in Motion: New Cultural Studies of
gious institutions and often in opposition to them. Most of
Dance. Durham, N.C., 1997.
the major Asian dance–drama forms originated in religious
Eliade, Mircea. A History of Religious Ideas, vol. 2. Translated by
contexts, involve religious themes, and, especially in the past,
Willard R. Trask. Chicago, 1986.
were often performed by religious practitioners. Outside Eu-
Erenberg, Lewis A. Swingin’ the Dream: Big Band Jazz and the Re-
rope and Asia, dancing intended for presentation to an audi-
birth of American Culture. Chicago, 1998.
ence has been rare until recently and has usually taken place
Harris, Janice A., Anne Pittman, and Maryls S. Waller. Dance
in a religious context. Divine possession has often been a ve-
Awhile: Handbook of Folk, Square, Contra, and Social Dance.
hicle for quasi-theatrical performance.
6th edition. New York, 1988.
A dichotomy can also be discovered between the history
Herbst, Edward. Voices in Bali: Energies and Perceptions in Vocal
of Western dance on the one hand and that of Western
Music and Dance Theater. Hanover, N.H., 1997.
music, visual arts, and architecture on the other. While reli-
International Encyclopedia of Dance. 6 vols. New York, 1998.
gion provided a legitimate context and a source of patronage
Kaeppler, Adrienne Lois, Joanne W. Kealiinohomoku, and Cyn-
for the growth of other European arts, this was not the case
thia Novack. Sharing the Dance: Contact Improvisation and
for dance. For the most part, the church not only did not
American Culture. Madison, Wis., 1990.
support dance, it vehemently opposed it.
Kaeppler, Adrienne Lois, Judy Van Zile, and Elizabeth Tatar.
Yet, such broad generalizations about the divorce of
Hula Pahu: Hawaiian Drum Dances. Honolulu, 1993.
dance from religion tend to obscure recognition of how in-
Mendoza, Zoila S. Shaping Society through Dance: Mestizo Ritual
fluential religion has in fact been. While direct religious in-
Performance in the Peruvian Andes. Chicago, 2000.
tent has been relatively rare, it has been strong in some peri-
Mohd, Anis Md. Nor. Zapin: Folk Dance of the Malay World. New
ods and for some choreographers. A few have been motivated
York, 1993.
to express their religious conviction in dance, and others have
Ness, Sally Ann. Body, Movement, and Culture: Kinesthetic and Vi-
sought in dance the wellsprings of spirituality. These chore-
sual Symbolism in a Philippine Community. Philadelphia,
ographers have often found inspiration in non-Western reli-
gions where the connection between the spirit and the body
Pearlman, Ellen. Tibetan Sacred Dance: A Journey into the Religious
is often a key principle. Whereas in earlier centuries myth
and Folk Traditions. Rochester, Vt., 2002.
and ritual were used as plot devices or as political metaphors,
Pegg, Carole. Mongolian Music, Dance, and Oral Narrative: Per-
often in recent decades the choreography has explored the
forming Diverse Identities. Seattle, Wash., 2001.
deeper dimensions of their symbolism.
Peterson, Betsy. The Changing Faces of Tradition: A Report on the
Religious content has entered Western theatrical dance
Folk and Traditional Arts in the United States. Washington,
D.C., 1996.
in a variety of ways, including (1) the use of biblical or folk-
loric religious themes; (2) the depiction of characters, rituals,
Phim, Toni Samantha, and Ashley Thompson. Dance in Cambo-
and myths of non-Judeo-Christian religions or of unortho-
dia. New York, 1999.
dox sects; (3) the influence of religious philosophies; (4) ex-
Shay, Anthony. Choreographic Politics: State Folk Dance Compa-
plorations of the concept of ritual or the stylizations of spe-
nies, Representation, and Power. Middletown, Conn., 2002.
cific rituals; (5) the enactment of myths or the probing of
Spalding, Susan Eike, and Jane Harris Woodside. Communities in
mythic symbolism; (6) the use of general religious concepts
Motion: Dance, Community, and Tradition in America’s
or central characters, events, or processes, such as Death,
Southeast and Beyond. Westport, Conn., 1995.
Creation, and the Devil; (7) plots involving supernatural
Thomas, Helen. The Body, Dance, and Cultural Theory. New
characters and stories; (8) the theme of religiously motivated
York, 2003.
sexual repression; (9) the use of religion as a device for ex-
Van Zile, Judy. Perspectives on Korean Dance. Middletown, Conn.,
ploring cultural identity; (10) explorations of altered states
of consciousness as often occurs in sacred dance; and (11)
Williams, Drid. Anthropology and the Dance: Ten Lectures. Ur-
settings of the Mass as theatrical works. In addition, many
bana, Ill., 2004.
dance plots presuppose a knowledge of Judeo-Christian eth-
Zuhur, Sherifa, ed. Images of Enchantment: Visual and Performing
ics, symbolism, ritual, and history in order to be understood
Arts of the Middle East. Cairo, Egypt, 1998.
fully. Religion has also indirectly affected theatrical dance
history by its varying attitudes toward dance, which have in-
cluded suppressing, supporting, and ignoring it.
Conflicting attitudes toward the human body and, by
extension, toward dancing have characterized all three of the
major monotheistic religions in the West—Judaism, Chris-
A distinction often drawn between dance in the West (the
tianity, and Islam. Although the negative view has generally
Euramerican tradition) and dance in the rest of the world is
won out, alternative models and solutions constantly chal-
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lenge any overwhelming orthodoxy. Biblical literature, for
transcend human suffering. Such lines as the following have
instance, provides both favorable and unfavorable pictures.
become a rallying point for other religious sects that wish to
On the one hand, there is the model of King David’s joyous
recognize sacred dance: “To the universe belongs the dancer.
dance before the Ark of the Covenant (2 Sm. 6:14–16); on
Whoever does not dance does not know what happens” (Acts
the other hand, there are the Israelites’ idolatrous dance
of John 95:16–17).
around the Golden Calf (Ex. 32:19) and Salome’s allegedly
Condemnation of dancing continued into the later
lascivious dance before King Herod (Mt. 14:6, Mk. 6:22).
Middle Ages. However, the inherent theatricality of the
Contradictory, too, are possible interpretations of the words
Christian liturgy, as well as of the biblical literature, could
of the apostle Paul. For instance, his statement that the
not be ignored. Dramatic performances were often elaborate,
“body is a temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 6:19) has been
sometimes involving processionals and dancing. Dance roles
interpreted as indicating the appropriateness of using the
tended to be comic or grotesque character parts. Starting
body in dance as a vehicle of worship and also as justification
around the twelfth century through about the fifteenth cen-
for condemning dance as a defilement of the “temple.” Am-
tury, plays were associated with Easter and Christmas. Cor-
biguity about the relation of body and soul has plagued Jews,
pus Christi festivals involved dancing, often by guild mem-
Christians, and Muslims alike, and has militated against the
bers or under government sponsorship. Los Seises, a ritual
acceptance of dancing.
dance performed by boy choristers, was initiated in Seville
Interestingly, some heterodoxies in monotheistic reli-
and is still performed today. The Pelota of Auxerre is thought
gions have incorporated dance as a major focus of expres-
to have been a complex dance in which the clergy passed a
sion—the gnostic sects of early Christianity, the Sufis in
ball among themselves along the stations of a labyrinth.
Islam, the Hasidim of Judaism, and the Shakers of American
Dances moving along the paths of labyrinths on the floors
Christianity. The Mormons are unusual in their embrace of
of cathedrals, such as the one at Chartres, were also integrat-
dancing as both a social and theatrical experience.
ed into the liturgy.
There has been more interrelationship between religion
Dancing in both a recreational and performance context
and theatrical dance in the twentieth century, in quantity as
took place mostly outside the church, often in conjunction
well as in diversity of expression, than at any other time.
with local saint days and religious festivals. Christmas was
With organized religions in general neither condemning nor
particularly enlivened by popular dancing often involving
supporting dance, perhaps dance has been freer to adopt reli-
mumming, a practice that still accompanies this holiday in
gious themes without political ties or negative consequences.
parts of the United Kingdom and in North and South Amer-
Perhaps the apparent secularization of society has rendered
ica. The Feast of Fools provided the opportunity for bur-
religious themes more neutral raw material. On the other
lesques of the established church. Many of the celebrations
hand, the growing popularity of dance has made this medi-
on these holidays had pagan roots, providing further reason
um of expression more acceptable in religious contexts. In
for official condemnation.
addition, while primarily growing up outside of religious in-
stitutions, theatrical dance in the twentieth century has re-
The miracle, mystery, and morality plays of the Middle
turned to the church and synagogue in the burgeoning litur-
Ages were performed in the churchyards and contained some
gical or sacred dance movement.
of the beginnings of professional dance. The dancing parts
tended to be fools, shepherds, and demons. The Devil was
often blamed for inventing dancing, and it is the Devil who
strongest evidence that there was dancing connected with re-
was one of the most danced characters. Minstrels, jongleurs,
ligion in the early Christian church is the persistent condem-
and other traveling performers of this period often included
nation of dance chronicled in the writings of over six hun-
acrobatics, mime, and dancing in their performances. Pag-
dred years of church councils. At this time, dancing was
eants included tableaux vivants depicting biblical scenes.
particularly associated with ceremonies at the shrines of
While generally not dance per se, they involved the commu-
nication of meaning through postures and movement rather
The disdain of the church for dancing stemmed in part
than through words. The Dance of Death was a pervasive vi-
from the state of dancing at the time. Much of the refine-
sual and literary symbol.
ment of Greek and Roman dance and theater had degenerat-
Social dancing was practiced in the feudal manors of the
ed into generally bawdy mime and acrobatic shows, or else
Middle Ages, and performances including dancing began to
the dancing had become associated with pagan rituals. The
enter the courts toward the end of the period. However, it
church even refused baptism to performers. A growing asceti-
was in the courts of Renaissance Europe that the roots of the-
cism further divorced Christianity from dance. In addition,
atrical dancing emerged, roots not directly linked to religion,
certain heretical movements incorporated dance into their
but affected by religious ideas in indirect ways.
liturgy, further fueling orthodoxy’s condemnation of it. For
instance, the gnostic sects enacted the “Round Dance of the
RENAISSANCE. With the rediscovery of classical antiquity
Cross” from the Acts of John as an actual sacred ritual dance
during the Renaissance came a desire to discover the relation-
that enabled the participants to identify with Christ and to
ship between Greek philosophy and dance. Renaissance
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courtiers viewed dance as a medium that could express cos-
model of cosmic harmony. Dance was elevated to the status
mological, moral, and political principles. Aristotelian ethical
of an ethical ideal. Political concepts were couched in mytho-
theory, Plato’s mystical geometry, and Neoplatonist ideas of
logical themes that were revealed in dance.
love were exemplified in dance. While dance in the Renais-
During the Renaissance, Tanzhausen were important in-
sance was for the most part composed of simple patterns of
stitutions in the Jewish ghettos of northern Europe. They
stepping, there was also an emphasis on elaborate spatial for-
fostered many choreographers, then called “dance masters,”
mations. Much like the members of a contemporary march-
who traveled throughout Europe, often arranging dances at
ing band at a football game, the performers constantly creat-
various courts. The best-documented Jewish dance master
ed floor patterns that they skillfully transmuted to other
was, however, a product of the court tradition of southern
patterns. To the Renaissance dancer and spectator, the geo-
Europe: Guglielmo Ebreo (William the Jew of Pisaro) is the
metrical figures that were formed had symbolic significance:
author of one of the earliest extant dance manuals, dating
the dissolution of the patterns revealed the mutability of na-
from the mid-fifteenth century.
ture, but underlying these shapes and changes was a grand
unifying order emanating from God. The patterns of the
In the later Renaissance and early Baroque period in
dancing were interpreted in different ways. For example, in
Italy, ballet developed in conjunction with the growth of
cosmological terms, they might reveal the harmony of nature
opera. Monteverdi’s Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda
as in the cycles of the heavenly bodies; in moral terms, they
(1624) featured a duel between the Christian crusader
might exemplify order and virtue and the resolution of ex-
Tancredi and the disguised Muslim maiden Clorinda whom
tremes; and in political terms they might demonstrate the
he loved. He kills her, and as she lies dying she asks for bap-
court’s control over these cosmic patterns. It was felt that
tism. The same theme has been treated by others, most nota-
dancing helped create order within the individual’s soul and
bly by the American choreographer William Dollar in his
thereby could promote order and peace in political affairs as
1949 ballet The Duel.
well. Dance linked the political, moral, and cosmological or-
With the rise of Protestantism, the opposition to danc-
ders in an inseparable cycle. Dance did not just portray ritu-
ing grew and was taken to extremes in Calvinist contexts. Al-
al, it was felt to affect the cosmic and mundane realms of ex-
though the Puritan condemnation of dance was not so vehe-
ment or all-encompassing as often painted, it was strong
The dance-plays had primarily mythological themes.
enough to squelch much social dancing and to thwart theat-
The best-documented ballet of this period, Le ballet comique
rical dancing in America and in some strongly Calvinist
de la reine (1581), related the triumph of Minerva (Wisdom)
countries in Europe.
and Jupiter (Virtue) over the evil Circe. The king is seen as
The objection was especially strong to “mixed” or cou-
her ultimate conqueror, restoring the cosmos to peace. An-
ple dancing and to women appearing on the stage. Such am-
other important later work has a historical theme relating to
bivalance toward dance persists to the present and was dra-
Christianity. In Le deliverance de Renaud (1617), the Chris-
matically represented until well into the twentieth century
tian crusader Renaud is seduced away from battle by the en-
in the United States in the so-called blue laws, which prohib-
chantress Armide. Subsequently, the Christians lose, but Ar-
ited dancing and similar activities on Sunday. From the eigh-
mide’s powers fail and Renaud is able to escape and liberate
teenth century into the twentieth, dance performances often
Jerusalem. The plot was interpreted as an allegory for the
had to be billed as lectures or sacred concerts. Puritanical re-
king freeing France from chaos.
pression of the body and dancing has been a theme in several
Thus although in European history dance has often
twentieth-century choreographies, especially in the works of
been associated with immorality, the Renaissance also of-
Martha Graham.
fered an alternative interpretation: the conception of dance
as virtue. There are examples of this attitude in antiquity, in
court of Louis XIV (r. 1643–1714), called the Sun King, that
the writings of Plato and Cicero, for instance, but a fuller de-
theatrical dance germinated. In numerous court pageants the
velopment of this theme blossomed in the sixteenth century
king himself was the star dancer, and his favorite role was
with the developing concept of the gentleman. Sir Thomas
Apollo, the personification of the sun. The subject matter of
Elyot’s Boke Named the Governour (1531) and Sir John Da-
court ballets continued to be mythological or pastoral, and
vies’s poem Orchestra (1594), among other works, reveal this
the message was still a political one. Professional dancers
perspective. Adapting the concept of correspondences, they
began to appear, and with the establishment of the Paris
discovered the symbolic relationship between dance and par-
Opéra, ballet finally left the confines of the court. With the
ticular virtues or states of being. Elyot associated dance with
evolution of the proscenium stage, the figure-based style of
prudence, reason, and order. Particular dance movements
the Renaissance with its attendant symbolism was no longer
were analyzed for their moral symbolism. Davies saw the cor-
viable; the frontal view of the body was the focus. The ballet
respondence between dance and chastity and marriage in
vocabulary rapidly expanded in this context. The aesthetic
contradistinction to the usual correlation between dance and
still had a moral overtone; complaisance, an air of refined con-
lust. Both authors describe couple dancing in terms of a
straint, was the ideal.
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Religious institutions were also directly involved in the
themes from exotic lands and medieval times, grand visual
ballet of the Baroque period in the form of the performances
spectacles, and sometimes characters drawn from life rather
regularly produced by the Jesuit colleges. These colleges were
than from mythology or antiquity. The boulevard theater
not seminaries, but rather institutions of higher secular edu-
also discovered the potential for spectacle in biblical themes,
cation. Unlike most other orders, the Jesuits embraced dance
producing such ballets and pantomimes as Samson, Suzanne
as divertissements honnêtes. They performed plays at different
et les vieillards, Daniel, and David et Goliath during the peri-
times throughout the year, but the principal event was dur-
od from 1816 to 1838. Many of the production techniques
ing graduation. They generally staged a five-act tragedy with
and themes of this Theater of Marvels were adopted and re-
a biblical, classical, or national theme. A four-act ballet was
fined at the Opéra.
performed between the acts of the play. The ballets were
One curiosity of this period was the highly popular,
sometimes loosely connected to the play, but they did not
somewhat sacrilegious, political satire The Ballet of the Pope
deal overtly with religious themes, favoring the Greek
(1797) by Dominique Le Fevre, performed at La Scala in
mythological or allegorical plots prevalent also in the court
Milan. The choreographer danced the role of Pope Pius VI,
and opera ballets. They were performed in the colleges
who engaged in most unpopelike behavior. An important
throughout Europe by the students and were immensely
work of this period was Salvatore Viganó’s La vestale (1818),
popular. They served as a welcome relief from the heaviness
which told the story of the forbidden love of a Roman Vestal
of the often obscure Latin rhetoric of the plays. In Paris the
Virgin, ending in the dual murder of the two would-be lov-
students were joined by the most famous dancers of the Paris
ers. Pierre Gardel’s L’enfant prodigue (1812) was perhaps the
Opéra, and the ballets were choreographed by the same pre-
first of a long succession of interpretations of this story.
eminent dance masters, such as Pierre Beauchamps and
Louis Pécour, who created the masterpieces of the secular
THE ROMANTIC BALLET. With the rise of romanticism in
the arts, another type of religious theme entered ballet. The
beginnings of the Romantic ballet are commonly traced to
The ballets were often veiled social and political com-
the 1831 opera Robert le diable in which Marie Taglioni, the
mentaries couched in mythological terms. Themes ranged
dancer who was to become the quintessential ethereal balleri-
from “Crowns,” a depiction of methods of royal succession,
na, led a group of the spirits of nuns in a supernatural scene.
to “The History of Dance,” an apologia for dance, to “The
The development of ballet technique, especially the begin-
Empire of Fate,” a critique of the doctrine of predestination
ning of pointe work, created a mechanism to promote the
promoted by the Jansenists, a group that was ultimately to
otherworldly ideals of romanticism. La sylphide (1832) and
cause the downfall of the Jesuits in the mid-eighteenth centu-
Giselle (1841), versions of which are still widely performed,
ry. Dancing was compatible with the Christian humanist,
are considered the epitomes of romanticism in ballet. Both
this-worldly orientation of the Jesuit order. Their ballets dif-
exist in a context of the depiction of otherworldly spirits and
fered from their secularly sponsored counterparts in having
the desire to escape from this-worldly reality. Because of the
no female performers or romantic plots and in always having
Romantic emphasis on emotionalism, subjectivity, malaise,
a moral point.
and the attraction to ungovernable forces, this aesthetic trend
has often been labeled as un-Christian. Yet a pervasive theme
Dance also developed in England, where choreogra-
is the contrasting of these uncontrolled states with the tran-
pher-scholars like John Weaver (1673–1760) debated the
quility and harmony of nature and Christian values.
significance of the dance. The French choreographer Jean-
Georges Noverre (1727–1810) shared similar concerns with
Overtly religious themes were rare, but Christian ethics
Weaver, and both were instrumental in the development of
were pervasive. The conflict between Christian values and
ballet d’action, which led into another phase of dance history,
the supernatural or wild unknown was displayed in many
the pre-Romantic. The characters were still mythological or
guises. The Romantic litterateur Théophile Gautier charac-
pastoral, but rather than being merely allegorical symbols,
terized the two leading ballerinas of his day, Marie Taglioni
they often displayed emotions and showed some sense of
and Fanny Elssler, respectively, as a Christian and a pagan
characterization. Important ballets of this period were the
dancer, referring to the virginal ethereality of the former and
mythologically based The Loves of Mars and Venus (1717) of
the voluptuous passion of the latter. The roles available to
Weaver and Noverre’s Medea and Jason (1763). It was the
the Romantic ballerina in this era also reflected this kind of
Age of Reason, and theatrical dance also emulated these
dichotomy: supernatural wood and water nymphs alternated
with female bandits, gypsies, and exotic temptresses. Plots
often contrasted the two.
The French Revolution affected the development of bal-
let in several ways. For one, it dispersed many of its aristo-
In Giselle, the peasant girl is betrayed by an aristocratic
cratic dancers to other countries, including the United
suitor, goes mad, and dies, joining the ranks of avenging
States, where theatrical dancing ran up against Puritan dis-
wilis, spirits who dance men to death. At one point, Giselle
dain. At this time, too, a different energy was at work outside
protects her lover by shielding him against the cross on her
the Opéra in the boulevard theaters of Paris. Catering to the
tomb. Thus, religious symbolism often entered the ballet in
middle class, they featured comic, acrobatic movements,
incidental or subtle ways. The Devil also showed up in many
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Romantic ballets—for example, Le Diable boiteux (1836)
ing women’s legs. Ballet became more the province of the
and Le violin du Diable (1849).
music hall. However, the evolution of ballet continued in
Russia, where the great classical ballets Swan Lake (1895),
Another variation of the Romantic ballet thrived in
The Nutcracker (1892), and Sleeping Beauty (1890) were cho-
Denmark under the choreographer Auguste Bournonville
reographed. The themes were primarily fairy tales or exotic
(1805–1879). His ballets also reveal the fascination with the
spectacles, but the choreographic quality of the works of
supernatural and the exotic, but Bournonville emphasized
Marius Petipa (1818–1910) and Lev Ivanov (1834–1901) el-
the optimistic and harmonic aspects of the Romantic spirit,
evated the genre. Few ballets from this period are extant, but
for the most part eschewing the darker emotionalism of the
it seems that very few had more than a gloss of religious sig-
Romantic ballets in France, England, and Russia. Contem-
nificance. Thus, Petipa’s La bayadère (1877) continues a tra-
porary Danish dance critic Erik Aschengreen noted:
dition of depicting Hindu priests and temple dancers, and
“Bournonville’s ballets rest on the idea of spiritual aspiration,
his La fille du pharon (1862) depicts his notion of Egyptian
with poetry and beauty as important qualities and with
religion. Ironically, Ivanov’s The Nutcracker, and the many
Christianity as the conqueror of all dissonances” (Aschengr-
versions of this work rechoreographed by others, has become
een, 1979, p. 111).
almost synonymous with Christmas. It takes place at a
While rarely dealing with religious subject matter per se,
Christmas party, but it has no Christian significance per se
Bournonville’s ballets are suffused with Christian values and
although it involves religious phenomena such as magical
symbolism. His ballets contrast social harmony with uncon-
transformation. It is probably performed by more companies
trolled forces outside society. Christian symbols often are the
in more performances all over the world than any other work
devices that effect the triumph of human values over the dan-
and might be said to be a symbol of the secular Christmas.
ger of the irrational. He often uses two women (or one
DELSARTE. During the nineteenth century, another trend
woman in two transformations) as a device for contrasting
with religious overtones was developing that was to have pro-
the rational and irrational, Christian and pagan. A striking
found impact on the growth of twentieth-century dance.
example of this is in his extant ballet A Folk Tale (1854). This
François Delsarte (1811–1871) developed a system for ana-
is the story of the human baby Hilda who was snatched from
lyzing and explaining the source of expression in movement,
her cradle and replaced by the troll baby Birthe. Each grows
especially as it relates to singing, acting, and oratory. In the
up unaware of the truth. Birthe struggles to conform to the
United States, a primary application was to dance. Underly-
human world, but bursts of temper and uncontrolled and
ing his quasi-scientific categorization of movement possibili-
vulgar movements reveal her troll nature. Hilda, on the other
ties and their meanings are two basic laws. The Law of Corre-
hand, instinctively bows to church bells in the distance and
spondence states, “To each spiritual function responds a
fashions herself a cross from sticks. Her calm nature soothes
function of the body; to each grand function of the body cor-
the chaos around her. The ballet ends happily with each
responds a spiritual act.” The Law of Trinity led him to di-
character acknowledging the rightness of remaining true to
vide all nature, and therefore movement too, into a series of
one’s nature. A wedding, the sanctioning of love by the
triads. For instance, he presented the following series:
church, ends this ballet, as in many other Romantic works.
In Napoli (1842) and The Flower Festival in Genzano (1858),
the heroine invokes the aid of the Madonna. In Napoli, for
instance, the heroine is saved from her transformation into
a sea nymph by an amulet of the Virgin Mary.
The theme of another ballet, Arcona (1875), is overtly
Christian—a chronicle of the christianization of the Slavs in
There were three corresponding zones of the body: limbs (or
Denmark. The heroine is about to be initiated into the pagan
lower torso), torso (or upper torso), and head. Each body
religion when she sees the cross worn by a Danish prisoner.
part could be further subdivided into three areas, each of
Bournonville’s libretto states: “No sooner has Hella hung the
which replicated the physical, emotional, and mental layer-
cross around her neck . . . than her whole being is suffused
ing. Thus, which body part one used, in conjunction with
with a religious feeling hitherto unknown to her” (McAn-
which other parts, in what section of space determined the
drews, 1982–1983, p. 330). She proceeds to free the Chris-
expressive message of the movement. Outgrowths of Del-
tian prisoner. In Bournonville’s La sylphide (1836), which is
sarte’s work were the art of statue-posing, in which the per-
still his most widely performed work, the hero’s rejection of
formers created tableaux vivants according to Delsartean
home to quest after the sylphide results in his losing every-
principles; aesthetic gymnastics, a form of physical fitness for
thing, an example of how the choreographer contrasted the
Victorian women; and pantomiming of poetry. These forms
virtues of the Christian home with the disruptive forces of
of performance were precursors of modern dance.
the nonsocial.
To some followers of Delsarte, the system was “the basis
CLASSICAL BALLET. The Romantic ballet began to decline
of a new religious education, destined to perfect the children
in Europe and the United States, and the values changed to
of men . . . and redeem the earth” (quoted in Ruyter, 1979,
promote spectacles that were often merely vehicles for flaunt-
p. 20). An underlying idea was that since man was made in
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the likeness of God, then his movements must inherently re-
emphasized spiritual intent. In her later years, she was able
veal God. The three great precursors of twentieth-century
to fulfill some of her dreams to create religious theatrical
dance—Isadora Duncan, Ruth St. Denis, and Ted Shawn—
dancing, becoming the first major choreographer to develop
were explicitly influenced by Delsartean philosophy, and
liturgical dance.
through their teachings Delsarte indirectly affected the first
In St. Denis’s biography, appropriately titled Divine
generation of modern dancers.
Dancer, a distinction between her own and Duncan’s views
on dance in relation to religion is succinctly phrased as fol-
Duncan (1878–1927) is usually credited with pioneering the
lows: “[Duncan and St. Denis] followed the polar paths of
break with the past and ushering in a twentieth-century
mysticism: one, seeking the Self in the Universe; the other,
dance form. She discarded what she felt was the artifice and
seeking the Universe in the Self. St. Denis . . . probed to-
vulgarity of the theatrical dance that surrounded her and
ward an unseen center, cultivating an interior space. Duncan
looked to an idealized conception of Greek spirit embodied
. . . created an expanding consciousness that seemed to con-
in dance. She found her models also in nature, as in the
sume the cosmos” (Shelton, 1981, p. 97).
curves and flow of waves and shells. She drew on Delsartean
From childhood St. Denis had been exposed to various
principles and philosophy, but she also developed her own
forms of spiritual philosophy, from “American Transcenden-
ideas, which were impregnated with religion and politics.
talism to Swedenborgian mysticism of her parents’ Eagles-
Through dance she believed that one could liberate not only
wood colony, to her explorations of Christian Science and,
the body but also the soul. One could become united with
ultimately, the Vedanta” (Shelton, 1981, p. 93). Her dance
nature, and nature was sacred. She wrote: “This is the highest
was deeply influenced by Delsartean principles both in the
expression of religion in the dance: that a human body
techniques of movement and in her belief in the correspon-
should no longer seem human but become transmuted into
dence between the physical and the metaphysical. She be-
the movements of the stars” (quoted in Pruett, 1982, p. 57).
lieved that “the Creative Dancer is always striving to give ex-
She found inspiration in the writings of the philosopher
pression to Divine Intelligence” (quoted in Cohen, 1974,
Friedrich Nietzsche, often quoting his statement: “Let that
p. 134) and that “dancing is a living mantra” (quoted in
day be called lost on which I have not danced” (Duncan,
Shelton, 1981, p. 244).
1928, p. 77). She was fascinated by his distinction between
As early as St. Denis’s first concert, she choreographed
the Apollonian and the Dionysian. She wanted the audience
works based on Eastern religions. In Radha (1906) she was
to experience her work as more than entertainment, as par-
a goddess surrounded by worshiping priests. She danced a
ticipation in her “invocation.”
solo built on each of the five senses, culminating in a final
She searched for inspiration in Greek antiquity. She
dance in which she renounced all sensuality, ending in the
contemplated the Parthenon and sought a dance form that
yogic Lotus Position, lost in sama¯dhi (meditative trance).
would be worthy of this temple. When she found it, she ex-
Her costume featured a bare midriff, and even more daring,
claimed, “And then I knew I had found my dance, and it was
she danced in bare feet. Other of her signature works were
a Prayer” (Duncan, 1928, p. 65). Her dancing was composed
Incense (1906), in which she performed a pu¯ja¯ ritual, and The
of simple runs, skips, and walks, often accompanied by ges-
Yogi (1908), based on a passage from the Bhagavadg¯ıta¯,
tures pregnant with meaning. Although one of her best-
which was a very austere unfolding of a few simple gestures
known pieces was Ave Maria (1914), her dances rarely had
revealing a yogin’s spiritual state. She also danced White Jade,
overtly religious themes.
in which she portrayed Guanyin, the Chinese goddess of
mercy, and in other dances she took the roles of various god-
The next major figures of twentieth-century dance were
desses (Isis, Ishtar, et al.) and biblical heroines. In her later
Ruth St. Denis (1879–1968) and Ted Shawn (1891–1972),
years, she danced Madonnas. She presented pageants in
her husband. Out of Denishawn, their school and company,
churches and theaters dancing the role of the Virgin in
came the three most influential pioneers of modern dance:
Masque of Mary (1934), Ballet of Christmas Hymns, and Heal-
Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, and Charles Weidman.
ing. In the Blue Madonna of St. Mark’s she portrayed Mary’s
Not only were St. Denis and Shawn seminal in the develop-
life from the birth of Christ to the crucifixion. She was eighty
ment of modern dance but they were also the most directly
years old at its premiere. In the “He Is Risen” section of Res-
involved in exploring the relationship between religion and
urrection, she danced Mary Magdelen. She formed the Soci-
dance in their choreography and in their teachings—and
ety of Spiritual Acts, a Christian Science discussion group for
both pioneered the return of dance to the church.
which she choreographed dances based on religious themes.
Out of this grew her Rhythmic Choir, which performed in
St. Denis (born Ruth Dennis) ransacked the world’s
dances searching not only for visually exciting forms but in-
sight into the use of dance in religion that was so prevalent
Edward (Ted) Shawn had studied to be a Methodist
outside the West. While the religious intent of her choreog-
minister but found dance instead. He described the basis for
raphy was so often buried in the spectacle of her perfor-
the Shawn-St. Denis relationship as follows: “She, pursuing
mances in the vaudeville circuit, her writings and teachings
the dance upstream to its source, found there religion, and
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I, pursuing religion upstream, found the dance was the first
L’après-midi d’un faune (1912), which predates Horst, and
and finest means of religious expression, and so we have wed-
in Paul Taylor’s Profiles (1979). The stylization of religious
ded artistically and humanly ever since” (Shawn, 1926,
ecstasy has characterized the many versions of The Rite of
p. 12). In a taped interview he explained his calling as fol-
Spring. Horst worked with almost all the early modern danc-
lows: “I feel my whole life as a dancer has been a ministry
ers, but he had an especially close collaboration with Martha
. . . because it includes in it every attribute of God; it has
lightness and rhythm and proportion and expressiveness
. . . the only way you can describe God is to describe him
Doris Humphrey and Martha Graham. Nurtured by
in the terms of a great dancer.” He often quoted Nietzsche’s
“Miss Ruth’s” spiritual lectures and later influence by Horst’s
comment, “I could not believe in a God who did not know
methodology and theories of movement style, the two great
how to dance.” He was more directly Christian in his intent
pioneers of American modern dance, Martha Graham
and choice of themes, while St. Denis was immersed in East-
(1894–1991) and Doris Humphrey (1895–1958), brought
ern religions and mystical philosophy.
to their independent careers Delsartean principles and reli-
gious themes. During the early period of modern dance, in
Among his many works were Brothers Bernard, Law-
the late 1920s and the 1930s, ritual was a common theme.
rence, and Masseo: Three Varieties of Religious Experience; O
Two classics are Graham’s Primitive Mysteries (1931) and
Brother Sun and Sister Moon, a Study of Francis of Assisi;
Humphrey’s The Shakers (1931). The former was inspired
Dance of the Redeemed, inspired by religious visual arts such
by the rituals of the Native American Christians of the south-
as William Blake’s illustrations for the Book of Job; and
western United States. It is an abstraction of the passion play
Mevlevi Dervish. He often incorporated the dancing of the
as seen through the experience of the Virgin Mary. The three
Doxology into his concerts.
sections—“Hymn to the Virgin” (adoration), “Crucifixus”
(Virgin’s grief), and “Hosannah” (exaltation)—are punctuat-
The religious import of St. Denis’s dances was usually
ed at the beginnings and ends by processions of the Virgin
lost to the audience, which saw only exotic spectacle. Realiz-
and her attendants, composed of weighted, solemn step-
ing this, Shawn and later St. Denis turned to explicit Chris-
pings. Processions are a frequent device in Graham’s works,
tian themes and contexts. As early as 1917, Shawn choreo-
and they lend to virtually any theme a ritualistic quality. In
graphed an entire church service held in the Scottish Rite
the same year, The Shakers depicted the essence of the dance
Temple of San Francisco. (In 1921 the same work was cen-
ritual of the American religious sect, the Shakers, who used
sured by the local clergy and the commissioner of public safe-
dance and song as their primary modes of worship. Both
ty of Shreveport, Louisiana.)
works created fictitious rituals based on actual sources.
An accompanist and composer for Denishawn was to
Religious themes per se were not common in Hum-
become a major force in shaping American modern dance
phrey’s choreography or that of her colleague Charles Weid-
choreography. Louis Horst (1884–1964) became mentor to
man (1901–1975). Their choreography was, however, reli-
at least two generations of modern dancers. He developed a
gious in the wider sense of showing a concern for the
systematic method for composing dances, using musical
fundamental issues of human life. For instance, Humphrey
composition as a guide to teach dancers about form and
described her New Dance (1935) trilogy as having the theme
style. One of his choreographic devices was based on “mod-
of the relationship of man to man. To her, New Dance repre-
ern dance forms,” that is, stylistic models garnered from the
sented “the world as it should be, where each person has a
arts of an era and translated into dance. What he called Prim-
clear and harmonious relationship to his fellow beings”
itivism embraced two styles, Earth Primitive and Air Primi-
(quoted in Cohen, 1972, p. 137). It conveys its message
tive. Both were characterized by awkward asymmetrical
without overt narrative; it is through the organization and
movements, the former revealing a sense of vitality, the latter
disorganization of group relationships that the theme is de-
of awe. The Archaic style was conceived of as ritualistic, and
the movement style was based on Egyptian and Greek bas-
reliefs. Medievalism had two aspects, religious and secular.
Humphrey’s Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor (1938)
It included the symbolism of denial of the flesh as revealed
is a plotless work to Bach’s music. However, she found in
in off-balance, distorted postures. The ecstasy of saints and
the music religious import that colored the dance. For in-
the exuberance of courtly love and minstrelsy were the es-
stance, in a program note she points out that the “minor mel-
sence of secular life. In Horst’s outline, the nineteenth and
ody . . . seems to say ‘How can a man be saved and be con-
twentieth centuries were characterized by Introspection/
tent in a world of infinite despair?’” (quoted in Cohen, 1972,
Expression, Cerebralism, Jazz, Americana, and Impression-
p. 149). Dancing to Bach was highly controversial. Even his
ism. Primitivism, the Archaic, and Medievalism took clues
secular music has been interpreted as being suffused with
from visual arts and music, and all had religious connota-
spirituality. One of Humphrey’s earliest pieces was to Bach’s
tions. Those themes have been repeated throughout twenti-
so-called Air for the G String (1929), which consists of a
eth-century modern dance and ballet, whether or not directly
group of women with a leader who basically walk, pose, dip,
as a result of Horst’s teaching. Stylized gestures have often
and sway in sumptuous draperies inspired by the paintings
been used to evoke an archaic context, as in Nijinksy’s
of Fra Angelico. Although there is no plot or context, the
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

costumery, music, and the rapturous poses (often in Gothic
Embattled Garden (1958), a major retelling of the Adam-
sway as in sculptures of the Madonna), suggest a pious ritual.
Eve-Lilith myth; and Lucifer (1975). A major historical
Humphrey later defended her use of Bach, especially in the
work, Seraphic Dialogue (1955), is based on the story of Joan
context of World War II, by stating: “Now is the time for
of Arc. The characters are Saint Michael, Saint Catherine,
me to tell of the nobility that the human spirit is capable of”
Saint Margaret, and Joan at the moment of canonization.
(quoted in Cohen, 1972, p. 243). Choreographers continue
Joan recalls the three facets of her life as the Maid, the War-
to use Bach as a means of lending a spiritual aura to their
rior, and the Martyr.
works. In later years Weidman choreographed Christmas Or-
Graham uses religious themes as a device for probing
atorio (1961), Easter Oratorio (1967), and Bach’s St. Mat-
psychological dimensions. She treats mythology as the psy-
thew’s Passion (1973).
chology of another age and seeks to reveal the “inner land-
It is impossible to look at Martha Graham’s towering
scapes” of the human psyche in her dance. Even in her less
sixty-year career without considering the role of religion. Her
frequent plotless works there are religious reverberations. Di-
work can be seen as falling into several periods. Her earliest
version of Angels (1948) is a rare lyrical and joyful work for
works were stark, ascetic, often ritualistic pieces. She later
four couples and three solo women, yet at the end the soloist
turned to more narrative works, exploring facets of female
in white is crowned with the splayed fingers of a symbol of
psychology and aspects of Americana. In the 1940s she began
benediction. The title of Acrobats of God (1960), derived
her epic treatment of mythological and biblical themes,
from the name of a group of early church fathers who lived
which has continued for forty more years. Almost all her
in the desert, alludes to a comparison of the ascetic spiritual
early works are lost, but some of their titles are suggestive:
life of the Desert Fathers to the arduous training of dancers.
Figure of a Saint, Resurrection, Vision of the Apocalypse, Here-
Both works celebrate the dancer, and their titles may reveal
tic, all choreographed in 1929, stand out among other titles.
Graham’s conception of their superhuman quality. In the
last section of the abstract Acts of Light (1981), the “Ritual
El penitente (1940), inspired by the Spanish-Indian fla-
of the Sun” is evoked by the stylization of a technique class.
gellant sects of the American Southwest, is the depiction of
Christ’s journey to Calvary as performed by a troup of tour-
Other first-generation American modern dance cho-
ing players. Appalachian Spring (1944) is the story of a wed-
reographers. Two other pioneers were Lester Horton
ding in the nineteenth-century frontier. The figure of the Re-
(1906–1953) and Helen Tamiris (1905–1966). Very few of
vivalist who weds the couple is a crystallization of one aspect
their works survive. Horton often used themes from other
of American religion. The ambivalence about physical enjoy-
cultures that were inherently religious: Siva-Siva (1929),
ment (whether in the sexual connotations of marriage or in
Voodoo Ceremonial (1932), Sun Ritual (1935), and Pentecost
the abandonment of dance and play) is expressed in the Re-
(1935) are examples of works utilizing such themes. His
vivalist’s movements. He dances a tormented solo of self-
three best-known works all have religious themes: Salomé
condemnation characterized by crawling on his knees, breast
(several versions from 1934 to 1950), Le sacre du printemps
beating, and fervent praying. The moralistic dilemma of am-
(1937), and The Beloved (1948). The Beloved is still in active
bivalence toward sexuality is explored in many of Graham’s
repertory. Although it is not expressly religious, it is an exam-
works, especially in her treatment of women, such as in her
ple of the theme of sexual repression implicitly derived from
American Provincials: Act of Piety, Act of Judgment and the
religious beliefs. It is a duet for a husband and wife. The
Scarlet Letter. In Graham’s Letter to the World (1940), the
man, outwardly a symbol of rectitude, proceeds to manipu-
poet Emily Dickinson battles repression as personified in an
late and then to strangle his wife, who presumably is guilty
ancestress figure. Graham’s family was staunchly Presbyteri-
of a sexual transgression.
an, and her father had objected to dancing for moral reasons.
Tamiris (born Becker) choreographed many works of
social protest. She is best known for her Negro Spirituals.
Graham’s Dark Meadow (1946) is a ritual of rebirth and
This is a suite of dances (solos and group pieces) to which
procreation with strong erotic overtones and pervasive Jun-
she added over a period of fifteen years beginning in 1928.
gian and Freudian symbolism. Archetypal characters, such as
She is credited as the first to use black spirituals. Negro Spiri-
She of the Ground (representing the female principle), dance
tuals is set to music representing a gamut of moods. Partially
a myth of rebirth. There are allusions to the worship of phal-
pantomimic in degrees of abstraction, each piece is a distilla-
lic monuments and to sacrifice in the name of fertility. Her
tion of a theme. The crucifixion section, for instance, was
monumental works based on Greek mythology include Cave
inspired by the visual imagery of medieval religious paint-
of the Heart (1946), retelling the Medea legend; Night Jour-
ings. Her goal was to reveal the human side of suffering, op-
ney (1947), the Oedipus story through the experience of Jo-
pression, and joy. Ted Shawn also choreographed Negro
casta; the full length Clytemnestra (1958); and Cortege of Ea-
Spirituals in 1933, and the theme became very popular
gles (1967), the story of Hecuba; and lesser-known works,
among black choreographers beginning with Alvin Ailey’s
such as Phaedra (1962), Circe (1963), and Andromache’s La-
Revelations (1960).
ment (1982). Other biblical works include Herodiade, the Sa-
lome story as seen through the psyche of her mother; Judith
Central European modern dance. In Europe, another
(1950) and Legend of Judith (1962); Gospel of Eve (1950);
approach to modern dance developed. The foremost figure
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there was Rudolf Laban (1879–1958), better remembered
this philosophy. Gurdjieff, influenced by Sufism, developed
today for his theoretical work (now called Laban Movement
dancelike movement exercises designed to effect certain mys-
Analysis) and the development of a dance notation system
tical states. The work of Steiner and Gurdjieff was part of
(Labanotation or Kinetography Laban), than for his chore-
a tradition that centered on the belief that mystical knowl-
ography, which has been lost. Laban believed in the spiritual
edge could be manifested in physical behavior and that the
source of movement and felt that dance was a means of at-
altered states of consciousness generated by movement could
tuning to the harmony of the universe. He had been im-
put one in touch with the underlying patterns of the uni-
pressed in his youth by the dancing of Muslim dervishes and
sought to find and understand the link between movement
and spirituality. He developed the idea of “movement
choirs,” communal dancing of lay dancers, as an expression
Humphrey’s closest protégé was José Limón. Several of his
of the festive spirit of humanity. His stage choreography
major works were based on religious themes. He often drew
often dealt with cosmic themes. For example, The Swinging
on his Mexican and Native American heritage. La Malinche
Temple was a choreodrama of all types of dancing from pri-
(1949) is a form of the passion play as performed by a troupe
mordial rhythms through priestly processions, to ecstatic,
of traveling Mexican peasants. The Visitation (1952) is based
comic, and combative dances. His writings and the scenarios
on the Annunication; The Apostate (1959) captures a battle
for many of his dance works have a strain of mysticism, a
between Christianity and paganism; and There Is a Time
search for the divine power of movement, whereas the system
(1956) is a danced version of Ecclesiastes 2. Limón’s Psalm
for the analysis of movement that developed from his theo-
(1967) includes the theme of the Jews under Hitler, and The
ries is known for its objectivity.
Unsung (1970) deals with the spirituality of Native Ameri-
cans. In The Traitor (1954) he retells the story of Jesus and
Laban’s two most famous students were Mary Wigman
Judas, casting Judas as a symbol of modern man. Missa brevis
(1886–1973) and Kurt Jooss (1901–1979). Wigman is con-
(1958), first performed in a bombed-out church in Buda-
sidered the principal dancer-choreographer of central Euro-
pest, is a dance of pain and an affirmation of faith. At certain
pean modern dance. While not concerned with themes from
any specific religion, her work in general grapples with spiri-
points, women dancers are carried like the statues of the Ma-
tuality and the larger issues of life. Many of her works deal
donna in Mexican religious processions.
with death or the cycle of nature. Her signature work was
The choreography of Alwin Nikolais, a student of
the solo Witch Dance (1914, rechoreographed in 1926),
Holm, rebels against the emotionalism of the first generation
which probes the demonic side of human nature. Many of
of modern dance. He turns instead to portraying the moving
her works revolved around the darker, grotesque aspects of
body as just one element of a multimedia theater. He has
life, themes that seem to have been appropriate to Germany
often been criticized for dehumanizing the dancer, but he in-
between the two world wars, her most productive period.
terprets his work in a religio-philosophical manner; he sees
Jooss is best known for The Green Table (1932), an anti-
man as a “fellow traveller . . . rather than the god from
war ballet still widely performed. In this work, he draws on
which all things flowed. . . . He lost his domination but in-
the medieval image of death as the Grim Reaper, placing the
stead became kinsman to the universe” (quoted in Siegel,
work in a religious historical context.
1971, p. 11). His pieces often are glimpses into the ritualistic
The European tradition of modern dance was estab-
lives of what seem to be alien tribes of people whose activities
lished in America by Wigman’s student Hanya Holm
make profound comments on human existence. His Tower
(1898–1992). Her works of the 1930s often made social and
(1965), for example, details the building of a metaphorical
political statements but can also be seen as having an under-
Tower of Babel to which each dancer contributes a piece
lying moral message. Her masterwork, Trend (1937), was
only to have the whole monument topple at the end.
nonliterary, but its theme was the discovery of the meaning
Erick Hawkins is among those choreographers who
of life.
worked with Graham. His choreography is notable as a rejec-
At the same time that Laban was beginning his experi-
tion of her aesthetic and technique. He has been inspired by
mentation, there were several others in Europe exploring the
Zen philosophy and feels that an audience should be brought
relationship between movement and spirituality in the con-
to enlightenment. His goal has been to develop a technique
text of new religions. Among these were Rudolf Steiner
that would be harmonious with nature, gentle and free of
(1861–1925) and G. I. Gurdjieff (1877?–1949). Steiner de-
tension. His choreography is often ritualistic and deals with
veloped a comprehensive religious and philosophical system
the human relation to nature and the oneness of body and
called Anthroposophy, which encompassed a movement and
soul. The mood of his works is often meditative with poetic
dance system called Eurythmy. In this practice, specific ges-
resonances. In Plains Daybreak (1983), for example, masked
tures and floor patterns are correlated with specific sounds
dancers represent the essences of animals during a mythical
and spiritual functions. Performing the movements thereby
time near the beginning of creation. Lords of Persia (1965)
promotes physical and spiritual health. Structured choreog-
is a portrayal of an ancient game of polo stylized as sacred
raphy to works of classical music is one form of expressing
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Paul Taylor has produced a wide range of works that fre-
through dance, and the healing nature of movement. Debo-
quently make comments on the human condition and social
rah Hay created a series of Circle Dances based on simple
relationships. Sometimes his works involve religious themes.
movements to be performed in a group with no spectators.
One of his most enduring works is Three Epitaphs (1960),
She was influenced by taiji quan and Daoist philosophy. The
in which dancers covered in black appear as figures whose
goal of these dance experiences was to understand the inner
postures and gestures convey both humor and pathos. The
self, the power of the group, and the individual’s connection
title of this work and the accompaniment of early New Orle-
to the cosmos. Meditation as well as ecstatic movements have
ans jazz funeral music provide an ironic commentary to the
characterized these ritualistic dances.
antic interactions of these creatures. His Churchyard (1969)
Meredith Monk, on the other hand, creates multimedia
is a dance of piety transformed into wild eroticism; Runes
theatrical works that are often ritualistic in character. She
(1975) creates a prehistoric ritual of sacrifice and regen-
creates layers of evocative imagery and archetypal characters
and transforms ordinary speech into chants and spectacular
Merce Cunningham made a radical break with the past.
sounds. Her Vessel (1971) dealt with Joan of Arc. Many of
He creates plotless works in which movements, music, and
her other works, such as Quarry (1976) and Education of the
decor are conceived of as separate elements. Pure movement
Girlchild (1972), have presented themes of human life and
is the primary content of his works, and therefore religious
history in a ritual structure.
themes are irrelevant. However, underlying Cunningham’s
TWENTIETH-CENTURY BALLET. While modern dance grew
choreography is a philosophy based on Zen Buddhism. Like
out of a desire for self-expression, ballet traditionally has
his principal musical collaborator, John Cage, Cunningham
been concerned with telling stories. The twentieth century
often composes according to chance principles; for instance,
saw the development of plotless (or abstract) works that in-
throwing the I ching (casting lots) determines the order in
herently give limited scope for interior states or religious
which movement phrases will be combined. Such an indeter-
themes. Yet, ballet also expanded its expressive powers in
minate method of choreography helps him to feel liberated
such a way as to become a vehicle for religious ideas as well.
from becoming attached to his possessions, which are his
choreographic creations.
The first major break with nineteenth-century ballet in
both form and content was Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes.
POSTMODERN DANCE. Cunningham signaled the beginning
This company produced a few biblical works: Salomé (1913),
of a reconception of dance. The idea that theatrical dance
The Legend of Joseph (1914), and Prodigal Son (1929). Le dieu
was marked by storytelling, emotional expression, and a fixed
bleu (1912) was based on the Hindu god Kr:s:n:a. The most
relationship to music and decor was shattered by his work.
remarkable religious work was also perhaps the most revolu-
Many choreographers in the next generation of modern
tionary ballet in dance history—Le sacre du printemps (1913),
dance have been called “post-Cunningham” or postmodern.
choreographed by the great dancer Vaslav Nijinsky. The
One of the more prominent characteristics of this trend in
dance and its music by Igor Stravinsky caused a riot at the
dance has been the focus on movement for movement’s sake.
premiere, and the ballet was performed only a few times. It
Dances were often composed of everyday movements danced
drew on a mythic history of Old Russia, but its pounding
by untrained performers. They wished to return dance to the
rhythms, ecstatic dancing, circular floor patterns, and sacrifi-
people, rather than reserving it for the virtuosic performer.
cial dance of death became a model for many other rituals
Religious themes would not seem relevant to plotless works
in twentieth-century dance. There have been many other re-
that aimed to expose the nature of movement rather than the
choreographings of the Stravinsky music, including Léonide
nature of human and spiritual existence. Yet, a major stream
Massine’s 1930 reworking for Diaghilev (in which the Cho-
of postmodern dance has been the exploration of the concept
sen Maiden was danced by Martha Graham, who fifty-four
of ritual. Many choreographers shared the aims of the experi-
years later was to choreograph her own Rite of Spring). Other
mental theater of the 1960s and 1970s, especially the idea
notable examples were by Horton, Wigman, ballet choreog-
that dance and theatrical performances could be rituals for
rapher Maurice Béjart, German Expressionist modern-dance
both performers and audience. A goal was to provide a trans-
choreographer Pina Bausch, and Paul Taylor, who trans-
formative experience, a function of many religious rituals.
formed the ritual into a gangster play within a play.
The means of effecting these changes in physical and mental
states were also modeled on a conception of ritual that often
Two of the last works that Diaghilev produced were
emphasized symbolism, manipulations of time and space, re-
Apollon musagète (1928) and Prodigal Son (1929), both cho-
petititons, nonlinear development of actions, and a highly
reographed by George Balanchine, who was to become the
formal structure. Some aimed at the creation of a feeling of
most influential ballet choreographer in the United States,
community; others reached for a spiritual experience, a feel-
if not the world. Though Balanchine is known primarily for
ing of holism or integration with the universe. They were
his plotless works, these two early ballets with religious
concerned with experiencing dance as a metaphor for life.
themes are counted among his greatest, and both are per-
formed in many companies around the world. Apollon musa-
Anna Halprin has been a pioneer in this area. She ex-
gète, now titled Apollo, retells the birth of the god and his
plored the use of trance, the expression of communal feeling
coming of age under the tutelage of three of the Muses. In
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Prodigal Son, Balanchine drew on motifs from his native
Antony Tudor is known for his psychologically motivat-
Russia, including visual imagery from religious icons, espe-
ed ballets, and few of his works are religious in content. His
cially the two-dimensional quality, and certain gestures and
Shadowplay (1967), which depicts a wild boy as lord of the
liturgical movements from the Russian Orthodox church,
jungle, however, was influenced by Zen Buddhism. Underly-
such as beating the chest and back.
ing his masterwork Pillar of Fire (1942) is the theme of reli-
giously induced sexual repression. His Dark Elegies (1937)
Other Balanchine works of some religious significance
is a ritualization of grief.
include his Nutcracker (1954), Noah and the Flood (1962),
and his Greek mythological masterpiece, Orpheus (1948).
In modern ballet, mythic characters are often used to
His Don Quixote (1965) also has much religious imagery.
create a psychological dimension. Tudor’s Undertow (1945),
Despite the relative lack of religious themes in his choreogra-
for example, is a contemporary murder story, but the charac-
phy, religion was very important in Balanchine’s personal
ters have mythological names, and his Judgment of Paris
life. One of the last works he created incorporated much reli-
(1938) is set in a Paris bar where Juno, Minerva, and Venus
gious symbolism and has been interpreted as his comment
are tawdry showgirls.
on death. In 1981, he choreographed the last movement of
The American John Butler, who choreographs in both
Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique Symphony as a ballet of the same
the ballet and modern dance idioms, has produced a large
name. A dance of grief is followed by a procession composed
opus of religious works. He was the principal choreographer
of angels with enormous wings, hooded figures, and monks
for the American religious television series Lamp unto My
who prostrate themselves in the form of a cross. A child ex-
Feet in the 1960s. One of his major works is Carmina burana
tinguishes a candle to the final notes of the symphony.
(1959), which is set to thirteenth-century poems discovered
Another choreographer for the Ballets Russes was Léo-
at a Benedictine monastery. The monks and nuns of the
nide Massine. Although he is best known for his character
dance temporarily discard the discipline of their order to en-
ballets, he also choreographed several ambitious but short-
gage in the passions of secular life and to experience the
lived works based on religious themes. Seventh Symphony
wheel of fate.
(1938), set to Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, was a chronicle
Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino, choreographing for
of the world from its creation to its destruction; Noblissima
the Joffrey Ballet, have created several works based on reli-
visione (1938) was the story of Saint Francis of Assisi; and
gious themes. Joffrey’s Astarte (1967), which has been called
Laudes evangelii (1952) was the translation into dance of a
the first psychedelic ballet, is a contemporary depiction of
fourteenth-century text depicting eight episodes from the life
the Akkadian Ishtar, moon goddess of love and fertility who
of Christ.
was called Astarte by the Greeks, though audiences are often
Frederick Ashton has been the principal choreographer
unaware of this theme. Set to loud electronic rock music,
in Great Britain. Like British ballet in general, his works tend
flashing lights, and projected film, the dance evokes the at-
to be literary, although he occasionally has used religious
mosphere of an après-discotheque seduction. The man strips
themes. An early Ashton work was the choreography for the
to his briefs, the goddess lets down her hair, and an erotic
Virgil Thomson-Gertrude Stein opera Four Saints in Three
pas de deux of power and submission takes place in a halluci-
Acts (1934). His Dante Sonata (1940), based on the Inferno
natory sequence. It was the first multimedia rock ballet to
of Dante’s Commedia, was a reaction to World War II. It was
receive widespread attention, and it ushered in a new trend
conceived as a battle between the Children of Light and the
in ballet, enticing new audiences into the theater. Arpino’s
Children of Darkness. The Wise Virgins (1940) was also an
Sacred Grove on Mount Tamalpais (1972) is a paean to the
antiwar ballet. Performed to Bach cantatas and chorale pre-
“flower children” of the 1960s, an innocent romp of renewal
ludes, it created visual images reminiscent of Baroque art.
depicting a wedding ceremony and the birth of a son who
The work had a devout atmosphere. He also occasionally
promises to be a kind of prophet to the celebrants. His Trini-
used mythical themes, as in Cupid and Psyche, Leda, Mercury,
ty (1969) is a three-part contemporary ritual of young people
Mars and Venus, and Daphnis and Chloe. His The Quest
employing some popular dance movements set to a rock or-
(1943) was the story of Saint George; his Tiresias (1951) de-
chestration of Gregorian chant and other sacred music styles.
picted a Cretan athletic ritual.
In the third section, “Saturday,” the dancers carry lighted
candles. A male soloist dances to a rock version of the hymn
Other choreographers in England include Ninette de
“Ite, missa est” that concludes the Latin Mass. The final
Valois, founder of the Royal Ballet. One of her most success-
image is of the stage, empty except for the pattern of votive
ful works was Job, a Masque for Dancing (1931) based on
candles on the floor.
William Blake’s drawings. As an example of Western ambiv-
alence toward the relationship between religion and dance,
Contemporary European choreographers have been
censors prohibited the depiction of God in this work, leading
more attracted to religious themes than their American coun-
de Valois to create a character called Job’s Spiritual Self. Mir-
terparts. John Neumeier, mainly choreographing for the
acle in the Gorbals (1944) by Robert Helpmann was a morali-
Hamburg Ballet, created the four-hour Saint Matthew’s Pas-
ty play in dance in which Christ comes to the slums of Glas-
sion (1981) set to Bach’s work. The story is conveyed
gow, revives a suicide, and in turn is murdered by the crowd.
through tableaux vivants interspersed with dancing com-
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menting on the deeper aspects of the drama. Neumeier’s
ball analogies in his exuberant evangelical addresses. In this
Mahler’s Third Symphony has a theme of redemption and in-
work Bathsheba does a striptease behind a screen fashioned
corporates Mahler’s idea of the quest for divine love.
from a scarf, and Joseph’s seducer is the contemporary Mrs.
Potiphar. Page emphasizes those stories that portray women
The Czech Jiri Kylian, working primarily for the Neder-
betraying men. Taylor’s American Genesis (1973) recasts the
lands Dans Theater, has offered Psalm Symphony (1978),
stories as episodes in American history, using bits of Ameri-
based on Psalms 39, 40, and 150, among other works. Fur-
cana—such as minstrel-show techniques—as ironic com-
ther examples include John Cranko’s Kyrie eleison (1968) and
mentary on both United States history and the biblical sto-
Kenneth Macmillan’s Requiem (1976). Maurice Béjart, cho-
ries themselves.
reographer for his Belgian company, Ballet of the Twentieth
Century, is known for tackling grand epic themes. Several
Other ways in which biblical stories have served as a
of his works have themes with religious connotations. In his
means of social commentary include interpreting the story
Nijinsky—Clown of God (1971), the Ballets Russes is cast as
of Joseph as a message about overcoming political oppression
Nijinsky’s Paradise with Diaghilev as its overseeing God. His
and the story of Esther as a metaphor for Nazism’s “final so-
Bhakti (1968) draws on Hindu mythology, and his Notre
lution.” Jooss’s Prodigal Son found his downfall not in the
Faust (1975) is one of several dance treatments of this work
pursuit of decadent living but in the quest for power, a poi-
over the centuries.
gnant theme for Germany in 1931.
Contemporary ballet has incorporated many move-
ments and much of the sensibility of modern dance. It often
dance, built on a philosophy of the expression of emotions
does not use pointe work but may reserve this kind of move-
and personal identity, has provided a vehicle for the explora-
ment to portray particular ideas. A ballerina on pointe some-
tion of ethnic and religious identity through dance. This has
times is cast in a higher spiritual mode. For instance, in Ash-
been true, in particular, for Jewish, Afro-American, and
ton’s Illuminations (1950), Sacred Love dances on pointe,
Asian choreographers.
while Profane Love has one bare foot; in Neumeier’s Mahler’s
Jewish history, ritual, and music have inspired several
Third Symphony, the figure of idealized love dances on pointe
twentieth-century works in both modern dance and ballet.
while most of the other dancers do not.
Several topics have been particularly popular: Jewish village
BIBLICAL THEMES. The flexibility of interpretation inherent
life of tsarist Russia and eastern Europe, the Holocaust, Hasi-
in biblical literature has been an inspiration for many differ-
dism, Sefardic Judaism, and Jewish folk tales. Some works
ent treatments that range from literal interpretations to the
employ movement qualities and steps associated with dances
probing of universal psychological truths to political and so-
from Jewish communities or with prayer movements, while
cial commentary. Several characters and episodes have been
others use Jewish themes or music without any particular
particularly appealing. These include: the theme of creation,
ethnic movement style.
the garden of Eden, the story of Cain and Abel, Noah and
The second generation of modern dancers were particu-
the Flood, Job, David and Goliath, Joseph, Samson and De-
larly drawn to social and political themes. This period of
lilah, Salome, the Prodigal Son, the Wise and Foolish Vir-
growth also coincided with World War II and the attendant
gins; and the many biblical heroines, including Miriam,
Holocaust, providing thematic material for powerful dances.
Jephthah’s Daughter, Esther, Deborah, Judith, Ruth, the
Many of the works of Pearl Lang have Jewish themes. Per-
Virgin Mary, and Mary Magdalene. The life of Christ and
haps her best-known work is The Possessed (1975), based on
interpretations of various psalms have also been frequently
the dybbuk legend. She also choreographed dances using Ha-
choreographed themes. One of the more popular subjects has
sidic themes, biblical stories, and poems composed by Holo-
been the story of Adam and Eve. Treatments of this theme
caust victims. Her Tailor’s Megillah is the retelling of Esther’s
indicate some of the range of interpretations of biblical sto-
story in a tailor’s shop.
ries. Graham’s Embattled Garden (1958) introduces Lilith
into the domestic routine of the Garden of Eden, whereas
Anna Sokolow created the solo Kaddish (1946); Dreams
Butler’s After Eden (1966) and Limón’s The Exiles (1950)
(1961), an abstract enactment of the horrors of the Nazi con-
both deal with the fate of Adam and Eve after the expulsion,
centration camps; and The Holy Place (1977), based on
while Roland Petit’s Paradise Lost (1967) featured a pop in-
Psalm 137 and dealing with the theme of the Jews in exile.
terpretation with Adam plunging into a backdrop of a huge
The first part of The Exile (1939) is set in ancient times, the
lipsticked mouth at the end of the dance. The story has been
second deals with persecution, culminating in Nazism. She
treated with awe and wonder and irony, and as tragedy and
created both The Bride, in which a shy Jewess faces a wedding
to an unknown groom, and Mexican Retablo, in which she
danced a Madonna.
The Book of Genesis has provided a source of comedic
ballets. Billy Sunday (1946), choreographed by Ruth Page,
Tamiris choreographed Memoir (1957), depicting
is the retelling of these familiar stories as they might have
themes of Jewish life. Holm offered Tragic Exodus (1939)
been explained by the baseball-player-turned-preacher Billy
and They Too Are Exiles (1940), which dealt with the dispos-
Sunday, who used the vernacular and often employed base-
session and persecution of all peoples, but at that time, refer-
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ence to the Jews in Hitler’s Germany was all too apparent.
Asian religious themes have often been popular in West-
Sophie Maslow choreographed The Village I Knew (1950) as
ern dance history. In the past, Eastern themes tended to be
an evocation of Jewish life in tsarist Russia.
used as a device for creating exotic spectacle. St. Denis pro-
moted a form of Orientalism that adopted the color and sen-
In ballet, Eliot Feld has contributed Tzaddik (1974), a
suality of Asian dance but also attempted to expose its spiri-
representation of a scholar’s intensely emotional introduc-
tual import. Cunningham, Hawkins, and Tudor have been
tion of two students into the world of religious study. His
influenced by Zen Buddhism. Starting in the 1960s, but es-
Sephardic Song (1974) was influenced by traditional Sefardic
pecially in the 1970s and 1980s, there has been an explicit
music. Jerome Robbins choreographed The Dybbuk Varia-
attempt to create a dance form that assimilates Eastern and
tions (1974), an abstract version of this story. Robbins is also
Western dance and that especially captures the spiritual qual-
well known for his staging and choreography of the musical-
ity of Asian dance. Asian and Asian-American choreogra-
theater work Fiddler on the Roof (1964), which drew on
phers have been particularly active in adopting Eastern tech-
many dance forms and images of turn-of-the-century Jewish
niques and themes to the modern dance context, often
life in Russia.
emphasizing the creation of ritual. Kei Takei and the duo
Israel has a very active theatrical dance culture. Many
Eiko and Koma are particularly noteworthy for their use of
choreographers there naturally turn to Jewish and biblical
Japanese rituals and movement qualities, and Mel Wong is
themes. One of the more prominent companies, the Inbal
known for his synthesis of Chinese culture and American
Dance Theatre, whose principal choreographer is Sara Levi-
modern dance.
Tanai, draws on the dances and rituals of the Jewish minori-
ties of the Middle East, especially the Yemenites. Some ex-
The discovery of Asian religions in the context of the
amples of works by Israeli choreographers include Levi-
drug-influenced counterculture of the 1960s led to works
Tanai’s Psalm of David (1964), which features the story of
such as Béjart’s Bhakti, a ballet about love as manifested in
Avishag, the girl brought to the aging David; Margalit
the relationships between Ra¯ma and Sita¯, Kr:s:n:a and Ra¯dha¯,
Oved’s The Mothers of Israel, choreographed for Ze’eva
and S´iva and S´akti. In the 1970s and 1980s, there has been
Cohen, draws on the image of the biblical Sarah, Rebecca,
a growing interest in S:u¯f¯ı dancing, and choreographers have
Rachel, and Leah; the Bat-Dor Company performs Domy
adopted spinning techniques, as in the work of Laura Dean,
Reiter-Soffer’s I Shall Sing to Thee in the Valley of the Dead
and have explored the mystical symbolism of Muslim faith.
My Beloved (1971), which tells the history of Israel through
Modern dance also took root in Japan, where a unique
the story of King David’s loves; Rina Schoenfeld choreo-
synthesis of American and central European Expressionist
graphed Jephthah’s Daugher for the Batsheva Company; and
modern dance, Japanese no¯, and kabuki combines with a
the Russian dancer Rina Nikova founded the Biblical Ballet
post-World War II sensibility. An avant-garde trend called
of Israel.
butoh, a word referring to an ancient dance, exists in the
African Americans have also drawn on dance as a vehicle
shadow of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and lends itself to the
for the expression of cultural identity. Religious practices and
creation of ritualistic theatrical probings of primordial and
music are a major component of this identity and have
postapocalyptic images.
formed the basis for many ballet and modern dance works.
SACRED OR LITURGICAL DANCE. Dance has returned to the
Revelations, a work by Alvin Ailey, was one of the first of
church and synagogue in the twentieth century. With St.
these works, and it has also proved to be the most popular
Denis and Shawn as its foremost pioneers, the sacred dance
and enduring. It is a suite of dances to black hymns and gos-
or liturgical dance movement has grown rapidly. Another
pel music, each section revealing the theme or spirit of the
early experiment with ritual dancing in the church took place
song—from the solemn abstraction of “I’ve Been ’Buked’”
at Saint Mark’s-in-the-Bowerie Church in New York, begin-
to the rousing church service of the finale. The audience is
ning in the 1920s. Choreographed by the rector of the
often whipped into an enthusiastic hand-clapping and foot-
church, William Norman Guthrie, the dance, depicting the
stomping participation that is akin to the atmosphere of
Annunication, was performed by six barefooted women
many black churches. In this way, Revelations has introduced
robed in flowing white material probably dancing in the
to the Western theater a different model for the role of the
Duncanesque style of the avant-garde of the time. For this
spectator at a ballet performance. Some of the other reli-
scandalous act, Saint Mark’s was suspended from the Episco-
giously inspired Ailey works include Three Black Kings
pal church. The ritual dance was performed annually for
(1976) and the often humorous Mary Lou’s Mass (1971), in
many years and continued to cause controversy.
which biblical stories are reenacted.
Contemporary sacred dance covers a range of ways in
Many African and African American choreographers
which movement can be incorporated into the liturgy. These
also draw on African religious practices. Katherine Dunham,
include (1) rhythmic or dance choirs, analogous to singing
Pearl Primus, and Asadata Dafora were among the first to
choirs, (2) performances based on religious themes or stories
do this. Dunham’s Rites of Passage (1941) depicted a fertility
by lay or professional dancers, which the congregation
ritual, and Shango, a vodou rite. Primus’s Fanga (1949) cre-
watches, (3) congregational dancing in which everyone par-
ated a ritual in an African context.
ticipates, (4) dancing based on ritual dances of other cultures,
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

(5) charismatic dancing, (6) danced individual prayers, and
the relation between religion and visual arts. About half the
(7) dance with therapeutic intent (spiritual healing through
articles in this volume are devoted to the liturgical dance
dance). Aims of sacred dance include promoting the affirma-
movement. The journal Parabola’s issue on “Sacred Dance,”
tion of the body, offering dance to God, creating a sense of
vol. 4, no. 2 (May 1979), contains articles on the dance of
community, finding the festive nature of life and religion,
Jesus by Elaine H. Pagels and on labyrinths by Rosemary
and integrating body and soul. Leaders in the sacred dance
Jeanes. Jamake Highwater’s Dance: Rituals of Experience
(New York, 1978) is a personal view on the importance of
movement have been, among others, Margaret Fiske Taylor,
reaffirming the ritual nature of dance; his book includes a
Douglas Adams, Mary Jane Wolbers, Judith Rock, and Carla
discussion of which contemporary theatrical choreographers
de Sola. Exponents of liturgical dance have also been unusu-
create works that fulfill his conception of ritual.
ally prolific writers. In the United States, the Sacred Dance
Guild was formed in the late 1950s, and the movement grew
Most information about religion and theatrical dance must be
pieced together from a general history of Western dance. A
rapidly in the 1960s and 1970s in many countries, fed by
basic introduction to this topic is Jack Anderson’s Dance
other related trends: the reemergence of exuberant social
(New York, 1979). A more detailed, although somewhat out-
dancing, the growth of alternative religions and religious
of-date book is Lincoln Kirstein’s Dance: A Short History of
practices, and the rise of dance therapy. While the sacred
Classical Theatrical Dancing (New York, 1935). Marcia B.
dance movement is mainly a Christian movement, there is
Siegel’s The Shapes of Change (Boston, 1979) analyzes some
also a growing following in Judaism. A central controversy
of the important works of American dance including Negro
within the movement is whether to emphasize the liturgical
Spirituals, Shakers, Revelations, and several of Graham’s
aspect or the aesthetic aspect, whether sacred dance should
works. A brief description and listing of dances by major
be performed by the laity with a communal, participatory
modern dance choreographers can be found in Don Mc-
focus or whether it should be performed by professionals
Donagh’s The Complete Guide to Modern Dance (Garden
City, N.Y., 1976). Anthologies of primary sources include
with an aesthetic goal. Ironically, the success of theatrical
Dance as a Theatre Art, edited by Selma Jeanne Cohen (New
dance in America, despite the opposition of religious ortho-
York, 1974), and, for theoretical essays, What Is Dance?, ed-
doxies, has led to the addition of a new (or rediscovered) di-
ited by Roger Copeland and Marshall Cohen (New York,
mension of religious practice—the expressive power of
1983). One of several books of synopses of ballet librettos is
101 Stories of the Great Ballets by George Balanchine and
Francis Mason (Garden City, N.Y., 1975).
SEE ALSO Anthroposophy; Circumambulation; Drama;
Gurdjieff, G. I.; Labyrinth; Procession; Steiner, Rudolf.
For dance in the early Christian church and in the medieval Euro-
pean tradition, see Eugène Louis Backman’s Religious Dances
in the Christian Church and in Popular Medicine
1952). For later attitudes held about dance by the Christian
There has been very little written about religion and theatrical
church, see The Mathers on Dancing, edited by Joseph E.
dance. Aside from a few isolated articles or books on particu-
Marks III (Brooklyn, N.Y., 1975), which contains an exten-
lar topics, most information must be gleaned from general
sive bibliography of antidance literature from 1685 to 1963.
books on dance. There are, however, a few anthologies that
On the Renaissance, see James Miller’s “The Philosophical
cover aspects of this topic. In 1979, an International Seminar
Background of Renaissance Dance,” York Dance Review 5
on the Bible in Dance was held in Israel. The papers from
(Spring 1976), and Roy Strong’s Splendour at Court (Lon-
the conference were not published as a group, but the manu-
don, 1973).
scripts are available at the Dance Collection, New York Pub-
For the Baroque, see Shirley Wynne’s “Complaisance, an Eigh-
lic Library at Lincoln Center, and elsewhere. Papers of spe-
teenth-Century Cool,” Dance Scope 5 (Fall 1970): 22–35,
cial interest to this topic are those on Limón, Graham, The
and Wendy Hilton’s Dance of Court and Theater: The French
Prodigal Son, Billy Sunday, labyrinths, and biblical dance on
Noble Style, 1690–1725 (Princeton, 1971). On the Jesuit
television. In conjunction with this event, Giora Manor pub-
theater, see Régine Astier’s “Pierre Beauchamps and the Bal-
lished an extensive study of the use of biblical themes in bal-
lets de Collège,” Dance Chronicle 6, no. 2 (1983): 138–151.
let and modern dance, The Gospel according to Dance (New
for pre-Romantic ballet, the principal history is Marian Han-
York, 1980). Worship and Dance, edited by J. G. Davies (Bir-
nah Winter’s The Pre-Romantic Ballet (Brooklyn, N.Y.,
mingham, 1975), is particularly useful for information on
1975). Ivor Guest has written extensively on the Romantic
dance in the church, both historically and as part of the con-
ballet; his books include The Romantic Ballet in Paris, 2d rev.
temporary liturgical dance movement. Focus on Dance X: Re-
ed. (London, 1980), and The Romantic Ballet in England
ligion and Dance, edited by Dennis J. Fallon and Mary Jane
(Middletown, Conn., 1972). On Bournonville, see his auto-
Wolbers (Reston, Va., 1982), includes Lynn Matluck
biography, My Theater Life, translated by Patricia N. McAn-
Brooks’s “The Catholic Church and Dance in the Middle
drew (Middletown, Conn., 1979), and Erik Ashengreen’s
Ages,” Diane Milhan Pruett’s “Duncan’s Perception of
“Bournonville: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” Dance
Dance in Religion,” and Georganna Balif Arrington’s
Chronicle 3, no. 2 (1979): 102–151. His librettos have been
“Dance in Mormonism: The Dancingest Denomination.” A
translated by McAndrews in various issues of Dance Chroni-
thought-provoking article by Douglas Adams and Judith
cle (1980–1983).
Rock, “Biblical Criteria in Modern Dance: Modern Dance
as Prophetic Form,” also delivered at the seminar in Israel,
On Delsarte and his impact, see Nancy Lee Ruyter’s Reformers and
is an application to dance of Paul Tillich’s four categories of
Visionaries: The Americanization of the Art of Dance (New
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

York, 1979), which also contains an extensive bibliography
correspondences among dance traditions. Since 1987, the
of primary sources, and Ted Shawn’s Every Little Movement
central investigations by dance scholars have moved beyond
(Pittsfield, Mass., 1984). Duncan’s own writings in The Art
the “how, what, where, and why” of dance to those related
of the Dance (New York, 1928) reveal her thoughts on reli-
to dance as a communicator of meaning and values through-
gion and dance. Suzanne Shelton’s Divine Dancer (Garden
out world cultures and religions.
City, N.Y., 1981) gives an excellent analysis of St. Denis’s
beliefs and choreography. Some of Shawn’s ideas are in The
Interest in the investigation of liturgical and theatrical
American Ballet (New York, 1926). On Humphrey, see
dance has extended into the realm of religious studies—
Selma Jeanne Cohen’s Doris Humphrey: An Artist First (Mid-
especially world religions—beyond the traditional categories
dletown, Conn., 1972) and my “The Translation of a Cul-
of “dance and liturgy,” ritual studies, and the umbrella of art
ture into Choreography: A Study of Doris Humphrey’s The
and religion. These are evidenced in the work of Ann Cooper
Shakers, Based on Labananalysis,” Dance Research Annual 9
(1978): 93–110. The Notebooks of Martha Graham (New
Albright, Diane Apostolos-Cappadona, and Ann Dils. While
York, 1973) provides unique perspective on the development
J.G. Davies’ texts remain as classics for the study of liturgical
of her choreographic ideas. For information on Laban, see
dance in Christianity, Doug Adams, Helga Barbara
his autobiography, A Life for Dance, translated by Lisa Ull-
Gundlach, Thomas A. Kane (in Introducing Dance in Chris-
mann (New York, 1975). On Wigman, see her The Language
tian Worship), Judith Rock, and Carla De Sola continue to
of Dance, translated by Walter Sorell (Middletown, Conn.,
expand the discussions about the nature, styles, and meaning
1966). For information on Steiner and Gurdjieff, see the
of Christian liturgical dance into the contemporary scene.
“Occult and Bizarre” issue of Drama Review 22 (June 1978).
Other religion scholars have incorporated analyses of ritual
For the second generation of modern dance, Margaret Lloyd’s The
and ceremonial dance into their studies of individual reli-
Borzoi Book of Modern Dance (New York, 1949) is the most
gious traditions, i.e., Hinduism and Native America, which
detailed. Hawkin’s ideas are explained in Erick Hawkins:
might otherwise not culturally identify these dances as “litur-
Theory and Training, edited by Richard Lorber (New York,
gical.” Issues of gender studies, investigations of the body,
1979). Nikolais discusses his work in “nik: a documentary,”
and the study of the economic, ethnic, engendered and/or
edited by Marcia B. Siegel, Dance Perspectives 48 (Winter
racial minorities have affected the modes and methods for
1971). For an overview of the Ballets Russes, see John Perci-
studying liturgical and theatrical dance. This appears in the
val’s The World of Diaghilev (New York, 1971). For Balan-
chine, see among others, Choreography by George Balanchine:
work of Jane C. Desmond, Brenda Dixon Gottschild, Judith
A Catalogue of Works, edited by Harvey Simmonds (New
Lynn Hanna, and Cynthia Novack.
York, 1983), and Marilyn Hunt’s “The Prodigal Son’s Rus-
Both the performance and the study of liturgical and
sian Roots: Avant-Garde and Icons,” Dance Chronicle 5, no.
theatrical dance have incorporated the technologies of video,
1 (1982): 24–49. Postmodern dance is introduced in Sally
Banes’s Terpsichore in Sneakers (Boston, 1980). Anna Hal-
mass media, and the internet as well as a place within the aca-
prin’s Movement Ritual (San Francisco, 1979) is an example
demic spectrum in the newer categories of “performance and
of one of the outgrowths of this movement.
display,” and “visual culture” (Mitoma, 2003). Scholarship
in the fields of liturgical and theatrical dance has entered geo-
On the sacred dance movement, see Carlynn Reed’s And We Have
graphic areas previously investigated to a lesser extent, such
Danced: A History of the Sacred Dance Guild and Sacred
Dance, 1958–1978
(Austin, 1978), which contains a useful
as Southeast Asia, Pre-Columbian Latin America, Oceania,
and Africa. These are shown in the work of Judy Mitoma,
Richard Anderson Sutton, Robert Farris Thompson, and
Elizabeth Zimmer. The influence—historically and from
post-1960s global cultures—of non-Western religious dance
traditions on Western dance, whether religious or secular, is
emerging as an investigative focus for both dance history and
religious studies scholars. However, more often than not the
study of the influences of non-western dance and religion is
Academic studies related to the topic of theatrical and liturgi-
in terms of a particular dancer in historical studies, such as
cal dance have remained predominantly within the circles of
Isadora Duncan, Ruth St. Denis, José Limon, and Martha
dance scholarship. Traditionally, such studies have been di-
Graham. Exciting possibilities for new scholarship include
vided into two categories of analysis: dance history and criti-
analyses of the “east-west” connectives in such contemporary
cism, which have premised their evaluations according to
choreography as that of Eiko and Komo, Meredith Monk,
chronological and classic aesthetic criteria; or ethnography
Peter Sparling, and Yin Mei.
and anthropology, which have inquired into the cultural for-
mations and functions of dance. The former has emphasized
NEW PERSPECTIVES. The new directions for the study of the-
typically the West and the latter non-Western cultures. The
atrical and liturgical dance will emerge in coordination with
publication of the International Encyclopedia of Dance (1998)
a growing recognition of global and multi-cultural dis-
and the televised presentation of the eight-part series Danc-
courses, especially in terms of cross-cultural analyses of the
ing! (1992), with its companion volume, generated both
creative process and the human body as evidenced for exam-
scholarly and public interest in the global and multi-cultural
ple in the work of Mitoma and Zimmer. New questions
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

about the definition of dance—liturgical and/or theatrical—
Novack, Cynthia. Sharing the Dance: Contact Improvisation and
are raised with the advent of technology and the merging of
American Culture. Madison, Wis., 1990.
dance with other media to create “performance pieces,” such
Richmond, Farley P., Darius L. Swann, and Phillip B. Zarilli, eds.
as the collaboration between architect Zaha Hadid and the
Indian Theatre: Traditions of Performance. Honolulu, 1990.
Charleroi Dance Company (2001). Analyses of dance as a
Rock, Judith, and Norman Mealy. Performer as Priest and Prophet:
communicator of cultural values and ideas will re-frame the
Restoring the Intuitive in Worship through Music and Dance.
mode and methods of studying theatrical and liturgical
San Francisco, 1988.
dance from the perspective of dance studies in the work of
Roseman, Janet Lynn. Dance Was Her Religion: The Sacred Chore-
Ruth Solomon and John Solomon, and in religious studies
ography of Isadora Duncan, Ruth St, Denis, and Martha Gra-
as evidenced in the work of a new generation of scholars,
ham. Prescott, Ariz., 2004.
most notably Kimerer Lewis LaMothe.
Rust, Ezra Gardner. The Music and Dance of the World’s Religions:
A Comprehensive, Annotated Bibliography of Materials in the
SEE ALSO Anthroposophy; Circumambulation; Gurdjieff, G.
English Language. Westport, Conn., 1996.
I.; Labyrinth; Performance and Ritual; Procession; Steiner,
Shelton, Suzanne. Ruth St. Denis: A Biography of the Divine Danc-
er. Garden City, N.Y., 1990.
Solomon, Ruth, and John Solomon, eds. East Meets West in Dance
Voices in the Cross-Cultural Dialogue. Chur, Switzerland;
Adams, Doug. Changing Biblical Imagery and Artistic Identity in
New York, 1995.
20th Century Liturgical Dance. Austin, Tex., 1984.
Sutton, Richard Anderson. Calling Back the Spirit: Music, Dance,
Adams, Doug, and Diane Apostolos-Cappadona, eds. Dance as
and Cultural Politics in Lowland South Sulawesi. New York,
Religious Studies. Eugene, Ore., 2001.
Albright, Ann Cooper. Choreographing Difference: The Body and
Thompson, Robert Farris. Flash of the Spirit: African and Afro-
Identity in Contemporary Dance. Middleton, Conn., 1997.
American Art and Philosophy. New York, 1983.
Desmond, Jane C. Dancing Desire: Choreographing Sexualities On
Zuhur, Sherifa, ed. Colors of Enchantment: Theater, Dance, Music,
and Off Stage. Madison, Wis., 2001.
and the Visual Arts of the Middle East. Cairo, 2001.
De Sola, Carla. The Spirit Moves: A Handbook of Dance and
Prayer. Austin, Tex., 1986.
Dils, Ann, and Ann Cooper Albright, eds. Moving History/
Dancing Cultures: A Dance History Reader. Middleton,
Conn., 2001.
DAN FODIO, USUMAN (AH 1168–1232, 1754/5–
1817 CE), renowned Fulbe Islamic teacher and shaykh.
Fernández Olmos, Margarite, and Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert,
eds. Sacred Possessions: Vodou, Santería, Obeah, and the Carib-
Shehu (Hausa for shaykh) Usuman dan Fodio was born in
bean. New Brunswick, N.J., 1997.
the Hausa kingdom of Gobir, in the north of the present-day
state of Sokoto, Nigeria. He came of a line of Muslim schol-
Gagne, Ronald. Introducing Dance in Christian Worship. Portland,
Ore., 1984.
ars of the Fulbe clan Torodbe that had been established in
the area since about 854/1450. They worked as scribes,
Gottschild, Brenda Dixon. The Black Dancing Body: A Geography
teachers, and in other literate roles and contributed over sev-
from Coon to Cool. New York, 2003.
eral generations to the dissemination of Sunn¯ı Islam among
Gundlach, Helga Barbara. Religiösen Tanz: Formen-Funktionen-
the inhabitants of Gobir. As a result, the Gobir royals were
Beispiele. Marburg, Germany, 2000.
superficially won over to Islam. Nonetheless, authority in
Hanna, Judith Lynne. Dance, Sex, and Gender: Signs of Identity,
Gobir still rested on customary norms, not the Islamic
Dominance, Defiance, and Desire. Chicago, 1988.
shar¯ı Eah, at the end of the eighteenth century CE. This caused
Heth, Charlotte, ed. Native American Dance: Ceremonies and So-
mounting frustration among these Muslim literates and re-
cial Traditions. Washington, D.C., 1992.
sulted in the emergence of an Islamic reform movement that
International Encyclopedia of Dance, 6 vols. New York, 1998.
reached its peak at that time. The Shehu Usuman became
Kehoe, Alice Beck. The Ghost Dance: Ethnohistory and Revitaliza-
widely accepted in Gobir and neighboring kingdoms as its
tion. New York, 1989.
Kirstein, Lincoln. Dance: A Short History. Princeton, N.J., 1987.
The Shehu Usuman spent his early manhood as a teach-
Anniversary edition.
er and preacher of Islam in Gobir and the nearby kingdoms
Lonsdale, Steven. Dance and Ritual Play in Greek Religion. Balti-
of Zamfara, Katsina, and Kebbi. He appears to have had no
more, Md., 1993.
initial intention of pursuing reform by force, but the pro-
Mazo, Joseph H. Prime Movers: The Makers of Modern Dance in
longed resistance of the Gobir chiefs and courtiers to de-
America. Hightstown, N.J., 2000. 2d edition.
mands for stricter adherence to Islam built up tension. After
Mitoma, Judy, and Elizabeth Zimmer. Envisioning Dance on Film
several violent incidents, organized warfare broke out be-
and Video. New York, 2003.
tween the Gobir forces and the Shehu’s followers in 1219/
Needham, Maureen, ed. I See America Dancing: Selected Readings,
1804. For the Muslim reformers this was jiha¯d, war against
1685–2000. Urbana, Ill., 2002.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

The campaigns in Gobir ended in 1223/1808, when the
Hausa sources; my The Development of Islam in West Africa,
Gobir dynasty collapsed and was replaced by a polity orga-
(New York, 1984), which places the Fulbe reform movement
nized along Islamic lines that the reformers described as a
in the wider West African context; and Baya¯n wuju¯b al-
“caliphate” (Arab., khal¯ıfah). The Shehu remained its titular
hijrah Eala¯ al- Eiba¯d, edited and translated by F. H. el-Masri
head until his death in 1232/1817, when he was succeeded
(Khartoum and Oxford, 1978), the edited Arabic text and
by his son, Muhammadu Bello. Elsewhere in the Hausa
English translation of one of the Shehu’s major works with
an excellent critical introduction. There are also many arti-
kingdoms and even as far south as Yorubaland and the Nupe
cles in learned journals that deal with aspects of the Shehu’s
kingdom other jiha¯ds, led by the Shehu’s “flag bearers,” or
life and writings. These are conveniently listed in Hiskett
military commanders, continued until brought to a halt by
(1973 and 1984) and Last (1967).
the colonial occupations of the late nineteenth and early
twentieth centuries.
The Shehu was not only a war leader but also a scholar
and poet in the classical Arabic tradition. Best known among
his verse works is his panegyric to the prophet Muh:ammad,
DANIEL, or, in Hebrew, Daniyye’l; hero of the biblical
Al-da¯l¯ıyah (The Ode Rhyming in Da¯l), that helped to spread
book that bears his name. Daniel is presented as a Jew in the
the prophet’s S:u¯f¯ı cult and was seminal to a genre of Hausa
Babylonian exile who achieved notoriety in the royal court
prophetic panegyric (Hau., madahu) among the generations
for his dream interpretations and cryptography and for his
that followed him.
salvation from death in a lion’s pit. He also appears in the
last chapters of the book as the revealer of divine mysteries
His Arabic prose works are numerous (see Last, 1967).
and of the timetables of Israel’s restoration to national-
Their main thrust is against all manifestations of indigenous,
religious autonomy. As a practitioner of oneiromancy in the
non-Islamic Hausa culture—song, music, ornate dress, ar-
court, described in Daniel 1–6 (written in the third person),
chitecture, social mores, and so on—and an insistence that
Daniel performs his interpretations alone, while as a vision-
these be replaced by Islamic alternatives. His works also in-
ary-apocalyptist, in Daniel 7–12 (written in the first person),
fluenced his society, and posterity, by disseminating the ideas
he is in need of an angel to help him decode his visions and
of the Qa¯dir¯ı order of S:u¯f¯ıs, to which he was deeply commit-
mysteries of the future. It is likely that the name Daniel is
ted, especially as regards the cult of the awliya¯ D (Arab.; sg.,
pseudonymous, a deliberate allusion to a wise and righteous
wal¯ı, “one near” to Alla¯h). Indeed, the Shehu’s own charisma
man known from Ugaritic legend and earlier biblical tradi-
stems largely from his reputation as a wali.
tion (Ez. 14:4, 28:3).
The immediate political consequences of the jiha¯d were
The authorship of the book is complicated not only by
to overthrow the discrete Hausa principalities based on tradi-
the diverse narrative voices and content but by its language:
tional, unwritten customary codes and to substitute the uni-
Daniel 1:1–2:4a and 8–12 are written in Hebrew, whereas
fied Islamic system of the caliphate governed by the revealed
Daniel 2:4b–7:28 is in Aramaic. The language division paral-
and written shar¯ı Eah. More long-term cultural and religious
lels the subject division (Daniel 1–6 concerns legends and
consequences were to displace, to some extent, indigenous
dream interpretations; 7–12 concerns apocalyptic visions
African notions about cosmology and replace them with the
and interpretations of older prophecies). The overall chrono-
Islamic celestial architecture, to challenge African cyclical ex-
logical scheme as well as internal thematic balances (Daniel
planations of life and death with the finality of the Islamic
2–7 is chiliastically related) suggest an attempt at redactional
doctrine of divine punishment and reward, and to enhance
unity. After the prefatory tale emphasizing the life in court
the status of Arabic literacy in Hausa society.
and the loyalty of Daniel and some youths to their ancestral
The Shehu is still a much revered personality among
religion, a chronological ordering is discernible: a sequence
Hausa Muslims, having become something of a symbol of
from King Nebuchadrezzar to Darius is reported (Dn. 2–6),
Hausa Muslim nationalism. However, the S:u¯f¯ı aspects of his
followed by a second royal sequence beginning with Belshaz-
teaching are now less emphasized than in the past, perhaps
zar and concluding with Cyrus II (Dn. 7–12). Much of this
because the Wahha¯b¯ı doctrine has become more influential
royal dating and even some of the tales are problematic: for
in West Africa.
example, Daniel 4 speaks of Nebuchadrezzar’s transforma-
tion into a beast, a story that is reported in the Qumran
scrolls of Nabonidus; Belshazzar is portrayed as the last king
of Babylon, although he was never king; and Darius is called
The bibliography on the Fulbe jiha¯d is extensive, and the student
a Mede who conquered Babylon and is placed before Cyrus
is advised to consult lists in Murray Last’s The Sokoto Ca-
II of Persia, although no such Darius is known (the Medes
liphate (London, 1967). The following will also be found
useful in the first instance: my edition and translation of
followed the Persians, and Darius is the name of several Per-
Tazy¯ın al-waraqa¯t (Ibadan, 1963), an account of the Shehu’s
sian kings). Presumably the episodes of Daniel 2–6, depict-
life and the jiha¯d from the Muslim reformers’ own view-
ing a series of monarchical reversals, episodes of ritual obser-
point; my The Sword of Truth (New York, 1973), a study of
vances, and reports of miraculous deliverances were collected
the life and times of the Shehu based on the Arabic and
in the Seleucid period (late fourth to mid-second century
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

BCE) in order to reinvigorate waning Jewish hopes in divine
Braverman, Jay. Jerome’s Commentary on Daniel. Washington,
providence and encourage steadfast faith.
D.C., 1978.
Hartman, Louis F., and Alexander A. Di Lella. Book of Daniel.
The visions of Daniel 7–12, reporting events from the
Anchor Bible, vol. 23. Garden City, N.Y., 1978.
reign of Belshazzar to that of Cyrus II (but actually predict-
ing the overthrow of Seleucid rule in Palestine), were collect-
New Sources
ed and published during the reign of Antiochus IV prior to
Collins, John J., and Peter W. Flint, eds. The Book of Daniel: Com-
the Maccabean Revolt, for it was then (beginning in 168
position and Reception. Boston; Leiden, 2002.
BCE) that the Jews were put to the test concerning their alle-
Van der Woude, A. S., ed. The Book of Daniel in the Light of New
giance to Judaism and their ancestral traditions, and many
Findings. Leuven, 1993.
refused to desecrate the statutes of Moses and endured a mar-
Wills, Lawrence Mitchell. The Jew in the Court of the Foreign King:
tyr’s death for their resolute trust in divine dominion. All of
Ancient Jewish Court Legends. Minneapolis, 1990.
the visions of Daniel dramatize this dominion in different
ways: for example, via images of the enthronement of a God
Revised Bibliography
of judgment, with a “son of man” invested with rule (this
figure was interpreted by Jews as Michael the archangel and
by Christians as Christ), in chapter 7; via zodiacal images of
cosmic beasts with bizarre manifestations, as in chapter 8; or
DANTE ALIGHIERI (1265–1321), Italian poet,
via complex reinterpretations of ancient prophecies, especial-
theologian, and philosopher. Dante offered in his Commedia
ly those of Jeremiah 25:9–11, as found in Daniel 9–12.
a “sacred poem” of enormous erudition and aesthetic power,
which more than any other work of Christian literature mer-
The imagery of the four beasts in chapter 7 (paralleled
its the appellation conferred on it by a mid-sixteenth-century
by the image of four metals in chapter 2), representing four
edition: “divine.” After producing the Vita nuova in 1295,
kingdoms to be overthrown by a fifth monarchy of divine
Dante entered the volatile world of Florentine politics,
origin, is one of the enduring images of the book: it survived
which, however unjustly, subsequently led to his banishment
as a prototype of Jewish and Christian historical and apoca-
from the city in 1302. In exile for the remainder of his life,
lyptic schemes to the end of the Middle Ages. The role and
he wrote the Convivio, the De vulgari eloquentia, and the De
power of this imagery in the fifteenth- and sixteenth-century
monarchia in the following decade, works that together reveal
work of the exegete Isaac Abravanel, the scientist Isaac New-
a commonality of themes: an admiration for the Latin clas-
ton, and the philosopher Jean Bodin and among the Fifth
sics, a dedication to the study of philosophy, and a commit-
Monarchy Men of seventeenth-century England, for exam-
ment to the revival of the Roman imperial ideal. These con-
ple, is abiding testimony to the use of this ancient topos in
cerns are all transfigured in the long and elaborate course of
organizing the chiliastic imagination of diverse thinkers and
the Commedia (Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso), which repre-
groups. The schema is still used to this day by various groups
sents an encyclopedic synthesis of late medieval thought sub-
predicting the apocalyptic advent.
sumed within an overarching theological vision. The poem
The encouragement in the face of religious persecution
is at once profoundly traditional in its religious ordering of
that is found and propagandized in Daniel 11–12 contains
human experience and an innovation of substance and form
a remarkable reinterpretation of Isaiah 52:13–53:12, regard-
that suggests an utterly new mentality at work. It can be seen
ing the suffering servant of God not as all Israel but as the
both as an attempt to exorcise what would shortly become
select faithful. Neither the opening stories about Daniel and
the spirit of the Renaissance and yet also as a brilliant precur-
the youths nor the final martyrological allusions advocate vi-
sor of it.
olence or revolt; they rather advocate a stance of piety, civil
Dante came of age in Florence at a time when the papa-
disobedience, and trustful resignation. Victory for the faith-
cy was embroiled with the Holy Roman Empire over tempo-
ful is in the hands of the archangel Michael, and the martyrs
ral jurisdiction in Italy. Widespread corruption in the
will be resurrected and granted astral immortality. Presum-
church, as well as within the powerful mendicant orders of
ably the circles behind the book were not the same as the
the Franciscans and the Dominicans, seemed to give rise to
Maccabean fighters and may reflect some proto-Pharisaic
many individualistic and charismatic expressions of piety
group of h:asidim, or Pietists. The themes of resistance to op-
that, while passionately Catholic, nonetheless found them-
pression, freedom of worship, preservation of monotheistic
selves alienated from the established religious institutions
integrity, the overthrow of historical dominions, and the ac-
and hierarchies. It is in this context that a devout layman like
knowledgment of the God of heaven recur throughout the
Dante, discovering himself a mere “party of one,” could dare
book and have served as a token of trust for the faithful in
to arrogate to himself the quasi-biblical role of prophet. He
their darkest hour.
became a voice crying in the wilderness, instructing the pow-
ers of church and state in their true responsibilities at the
same time that he was attempting to woo the ordinary reader
Bickerman, Elias J. Four Strange Books of the Bible: Jonah, Daniel,
(in a daring use of the vernacular for so ambitious a poetic
Koheleth, Esther. New York, 1967. See pages 53–138.
work) into a full conversion of the heart.
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Whatever the poet’s personal upbringing may have
most significant of all—and most singularly responsible for
given him, it is known that he studied for an extended period
the Commedia’s immense and enduring popularity—is
“in the schools of the religious orders and at the disputations
Dante’s superb representation of the self: ineradicable even
of the philosophers” (Convivio 2.12). At Santa Croce he
in death; more vivid than the theological context in which
would have been exposed to the wealth of Franciscan piety,
it is eternally envisioned; more subtly and realistically por-
while at Santa Maria Novella the Dominican Remigio de’
trayed than in any other work of medieval literature. The
Girolami expounded the theology of Thomas Aquinas with
poem’s itinerary leads us along the paths of theology to a vi-
special regard for the Aristotelian philosophy that subtends
sion of God, but its hundred cantos offer an investigation
it. In such an intellectual atmosphere Dante found validated
of human nature and culture that grounds the reader’s atten-
what was to be one of the most impressive characteristics of
tion in the complex realities of earth.
his own work: the massive appropriation of pagan and classi-
cal writers for Christian reflection and use.
The quantity of secondary material on Dante written in English
In assessing Dante’s relation to medieval theology and
alone is staggering. Carole Slade’s extensive and somewhat
religious thought it is commonplace to emphasize the forma-
annotated bibliography in Approaches to Teaching Dante’s Di-
tive influence of “the Philosopher” (Aristotle) and the “An-
vine Comedy (New York, 1982) gives a fine sense of the
gelic Doctor” (Thomas); that is, to stress his strong debt to
whole range. Among those works that deal sensitively with
Scholasticism. It must be remembered, however, that the
Dante’s relation to Christian belief and tradition, one needs
poet everywhere shows himself to be an independent and
to accord special tribute to the critical oeuvre of Charles S.
eclectic thinker, whose imaginative meditation on the Chris-
Singleton, who has exerted a powerful influence on Ameri-
tian faith leads him far and wide: to the systematics of Peter
can studies of Dante by underscoring the importance of the
Lombard, the Platonism of Bonaventure, the mysticism of
poem’s theological assumptions. In addition to Singleton’s
translation and commentary (Princeton, 1970–1975), there
Bernard of Clairvaux and the Victorines, the biblical exegesis
are his earlier works: An Essay on the Vita Nuova (Cambridge,
(as well as the retrospective confessional mode) of Augustine.
U.K. 1949), Dante Studies 1: Commedia, Elements of Struc-
Thus, while we may well speak of Dante as standing at the
ture, 2d ed. (Baltimore, 1977), and Dante Studies 2: Journey
crossroads of medieval religious thought, the intersection is
to Beatrice, 2d ed. (Baltimore, 1977). Charles Williams’s The
one that he personally constructed rather than discovered
Figure of Beatrice (London, 1958) gives a coherent theologi-
ready-made. The synthesis of the Commedia is idiosyncrati-
cal reading of all of Dante’s works, whose point of view in-
cally his own.
forms not only Dorothy Sayers’s commentary and notes
(Harmondsworth, 1951–1967) but her Introductory Papers
As a propagator of the Christian religion Dante must,
on Dante (New York, 1954) and Further Papers on Dante
of course, be assessed by the achievement of his great poem,
(New York, 1957). There are also brilliant insights into the
with its account of the state of the soul after death portrayed
religious ethos of the Commedia in Erich Auerbach’s Dante:
in the course of a journey undertaken by the poet himself
Poet of the Secular World (Chicago, 1961) as well as in an im-
(lasting from Good Friday 1300 to the Wednesday of Easter
portant chapter of his Mimesis (Princeton, 1953). Robert
Week) through the realms of damnation, purgation, and be-
Hollander’s Allegory in Dante’s Commedia (Princeton, 1969)
atitude. Granted this extraordinary experience through the
and Studies in Dante (Ravenna, 1980) deal masterfully with
the poet’s claim to write an “allegory of the theologians” (and
intercession of his deceased love, Beatrice, the pilgrim-poet
therefore in the manner of scripture itself). John Freccero’s
is led step by step through a process of conversion by a series
many brilliant essays on the Commedia, collected under the
of guides and mediators: the pagan poet Vergil, Beatrice her-
title The Poetry of Conversion (Cambridge, Mass., 1986),
self, and the churchman-mystic-crusader Bernard. But in its
stress the poet’s debt to Augustine’s Confessions and the
larger aspect, the poem is itself an invitation to conversion:
Christian Neoplatonic tradition. The latter connection is ex-
to the individual reader, to rediscover the Gospels’ “true
plored in Joseph Anthony Mazzeo’s Structure and Thought
way”; to the church, to recover its spiritual mission; and to
in the Paradiso (Ithaca, N.Y., 1958). Finally, William Ander-
the state, to exercise its divinely ordained mandate to foster
son’s Dante the Maker (Boston, 1980) takes seriously the vi-
temporal well-being.
sionary origin of the Commedia and therefore forces us to ex-
amine again the literal level of the poem and its bid to be
There are other transformations as well. Hell is por-
believed as a genuine vision of God.
trayed not as a place of arbitrary horror, but as the eternal
living out of the soul’s self-choice, whereby punishments not
only fit but express the crimes of sin. Dante also brings Pur-
gatory aboveground and into the sun, turning the traditional
place of torturous penance into more of a hospital or school
DAO’AN (312–385), also known as Shi Dao’an, Chinese
than a prison house. No less striking is the presentation of
Buddhist monk, scholar, and gifted exegete whose organiza-
Beatrice, at once the earthly lover praised in the youthful
tional abilities and doctrinal acumen helped shape the direc-
pages of the Vita nuova and the Christ-event for Dante: a
tion of early Chinese Buddhism. Dao’an was born to a family
woman in whom we see human eros accorded an unprece-
of literati in what is now Hebei Province in North China.
dented place in the scheme of human salvation. But perhaps
He became a novice at the age of twelve. In 335 he journeyed
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to Ye (Hebei Province), the new capital of the Later Zhao
But the distinguishing feature of Dao’an’s fifteen-year
kingdom, where he studied with Fotudeng (d. 348), the
stay in Xiangyang was his shift in attention from dhya¯na texts
thaumaturge-monk whose magical prowess and success at
and practices to the Maha¯ya¯na Prajña¯pa¯ramita¯ (perfection of
predicting the outcome of battle had served to recommend
wisdom) literature. Although there is evidence that he had
Buddhism to the non-Chinese rulers of the kingdom. With
become acquainted with these su¯tras prior to 365, the years
the death of Shi Hu, then ruler of the Later Zhao, in 349,
in Xiangyang were characterized by a radical reorganization
Dao’an left Ye and began a peripatetic career in North China
of his religious interests: six of Dao’an’s commentaries from
that was to last until 365, when he was forced by war to flee
this period are devoted to the Prajña¯pa¯ramita¯ literature. He
south to Xiangyang (Hubei Province). During this period he
is also said to have lectured twice yearly on the Fangguang
gathered around himself an ever-growing band of disciples
jing, Moks:ala’s translation (291 CE) of the Prajña¯pa¯ramita¯
and developed the scholarly and organizational skills for
Su¯tra in twenty-five thousand ´slokas. It is as an outgrowth
which he is esteemed.
of this interest in speculations on prajña¯pa¯ramita¯ that he is
Dao’an’s interests during the period 349–365 were con-
credited with establishing the teaching of original nonbeing
ditioned by the pronounced orientation of the Buddhism of
(benwu zong), one of seven so-called prajña¯ traditions that
North China around primarily Hinayanistic techniques of
flourished in China during the fourth and fifth centuries.
meditation designed to advance the practitioner through suc-
From the scant evidence remaining to us, Dao’an’s teaching
cessively rarefied transic states (Skt., dhya¯na; Chin., chan).
appears to have emphasized the existence of an underlying
The enumeration of these states constituted the topic of sev-
substrate (benwu) that stands to phenomena (moyou) as both
eral su¯tras introduced to China in the second century CE by
fundamental substance and source. By focusing the mind in
the Parthian translator An Shigao. During his time in the
meditation upon this radically other, empty absolute,
North, Dao’an wrote commentaries to no fewer than six of
Dao’an taught, release from phenomenal existence can
An Shigao’s translations, remarking at one point that the
be won.
study of dhya¯na categories constituted “the very pivot of the
religious life.” That the practice of the techniques described
Two other hallmarks of Dao’an’s stay at Xiangyang bear
in An Shigao’s translations occupied a central role in the
mentioning. The first is his compilation, in 374, of the first
community of monks gathered around Dao’an can scarcely
critical catalog of Chinese Buddhist texts. As a culmination
be doubted.
of his lifelong interest in the fidelity of the sources available
to the Chinese, the Zongli zhongjing mulu (Comprehensive
This interest in some of the earliest products of the in-
catalog of the collected scriptures) became a model for all fu-
teraction between India and China may reflect something of
ture works of this sort. Dao’an personally inspected each of
the growing historiographical and text-critical concerns that
the more than six hundred works in the catalog, laboriously
would become the hallmark of Dao’an’s later years. His biog-
copied the colophons, where available, and scrupulously
raphies emphasize his concern lest the meaning of the scrip-
passed judgment on the authenticity of the information
tures be obscured by the translation process or by the efforts
given there. The other noteworthy feature of Dao’an’s career
of well-meaning exegetes to couch Buddhist ideas in equiva-
in Xiangyang is his inauguration of a cult to the bodhisattva
lent Chinese terms bearing only a nominal relationship to
Maitreya. In this cult, clearly the model for his disciple Huiy-
the original Sanskrit. Like no one before him in the history
uan’s own Amitabha confraternity (402 CE), Dao’an and
of Chinese Buddhism, Dao’an recognized that profound dif-
seven other devotees gathered before an image of Maitreya
ferences separated the original teachings of the scriptures
and collectively vowed to be reborn in Tusita Heaven, the
from the hermeneutical framework devised for them in
abode of the bodhisattva prior to his rebirth in this world.
China. In light of this, he undertook his own program of tex-
His biography relates how, in a miraculous visitation to
tual exegesis, including careful notation of the history of vari-
Dao’an shortly before his death, Maitreya vouchsafed to him
ous texts in China, and formally repudiated a prevailing
a vision of Tusita.
method of textual interpretation known as geyi (matching
meanings), under which numerical categories from the scrip-
The final era of Dao’an’s career began in 379 when Fu
tures were paired with terms from secular literature.
Jian, ruler of the Former Qin kingdom, laid siege to Xiang-
The year 365 found Dao’an in Xiangyang with an en-
yang. In the aftermath of the capitulation of the city Dao’an
tourage of over four hundred disciples. Once there he moved
was brought to Chang’an to preside over a monastic commu-
quickly to establish a monastic center and to forge links with
nity several times larger than that at Xiangyang. With Fu
the local government and aristocracy that would ensure its
Jian’s restoration of Chinese hegemony over Central Asia,
institutional stability. Aware of the difficulties in regulating
Chang’an was once again the eastern terminus of a trade and
monastic life in the absence of a complete translation of the
information network that stretched through Chinese Turki-
Vinaya, or monastic rules, he promulgated a series of ordi-
stan, beyond the Hindu Kush, and into India itself. In the
nances of his own devising. These appear to have treated the
final years of Dao’an’s life a number of important missiona-
daily regimen of the monks and their observance of the
ries and translators arrived in Chang’an from the western re-
Upos:adha (Pali, Uposatha), or fortnightly confessional cere-
gions, especially from Kashmir, where the Sarvastivada com-
munity was exceptionally strong. They brought with them
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

texts that gradually began to fill the lacunae in the canon so
no hon’yakuron,” Indogaku bukkyo¯gaku kenkyu¯ 5 (1957):
lamented by Dao’an. The Ekottara and Madhyama A¯gamas,
the Jña¯naprastha¯na (the central work in the Sarvastivada Ab-
hidharma Pitaka), and important sections of the Sarvastivada
Vinaya were all introduced at this time. As head of an offi-
cially sponsored translation bureau, Dao’an advised the
DAO AND DE, the “way” and “virtue,” respectively, are
translation team in matters of style (Dao’an, of course, knew
basic Chinese philosophical concepts with particular rele-
no Sanskrit), and composed prefaces to some of the texts. His
vance in the Daoist tradition. They are important separately
classic guidelines for translators, consisting, formulaically, of
as politico-philosophical and religious terms. Joined as a bi-
five parameters for changing the text (wu shiben) and three
nomial, dao-de appears first in the third century BCE and
conditions under which deviation from the original was not
plays a key role in religious Daoist speculation. In modern
encouraged (san buyi), date from this period.
Chinese, dao-de means “morality.”
Dao’an’s influence over the exegetical and bibliographi-
Dao is the word for “road” or “pathway.” It has no other
cal traditions of Chinese Buddhism during its formative
sense in the earliest texts—that is, in the oracle bones of the
years can scarcely be overestimated. As the first Buddhist on
Shang dynasty (c. 1200 BCE). By the time of the Eastern
Chinese soil to confront the problem of understanding Bud-
Zhou (770–256 BCE), dao comes to mean the correct or nat-
dhist texts on their own terms, free from the conceptual dis-
ural way something is done, especially in the actions of rulers
tortions imposed on them by their association with indige-
and kings (Vandermeersch, 1980). Used as a verb, dao also
nous thought, Dao’an brought to the young church a new
means to “show the way,” “tell,” or “guide,” and hence gains
measure of maturity. He is also significant for having com-
the meaning “teaching” or “doctrine.” In both these senses,
bined in a single career the emphasis on Pietism and dhya¯na
the term is central to the various philosophical schools of an-
practices characteristic of the Buddhism of North China
cient China and the formulation of political doctrines; it
with the Gnostic speculations of Prajña¯pa¯ramita¯ and xuanx-
often designates a meta-way of talking about specific ideas
ue thought that engaged the Buddhist thinkers of the South.
or political measures (Hansen, 1992). A. C. Graham accord-
That Buddhism emerged with the doctrinal and institutional
ingly entitled his volume on ancient Chinese thought Disput-
autonomy that it did during the fifth century is attributable
ers of the Tao (1989).
in no small measure to Dao’an’s efforts.
In the philosophical texts, dao means both “the way the
universe operates” and “the teachings people follow.” Thus,
SEE ALSO Huiyuan; Kuma¯raj¯ıva; Maitreya.
the Lunyu (the Analects or “Sayings of Confucius,” dated to
about 400 BCE) speaks of the “dao of the ancient kings” and
says a state “has dao” if it is well governed. A Confucian gen-
Extensive discussions of Dao’an’s role in the development of Chi-
tleman “devotes himself to dao” and people do not all “have
nese Buddhism can be found in Tang Yongtong’s Han Wei
the same dao” if they adhere to different principles. The clas-
liang-Jin Nan-bei chao fojiao shi (Shanghai, 1938), vol. 1,
sic of all texts on dao, the Dao de jing, states, “dao that can
pp. 187–277; Ito¯ Giken’s Shina bukkyo¯ seishi (Yamaguchi-
ken, 1923), pp. 111–206; and Erik Zürcher’s The Buddhist
be dao’ed is not the eternal dao” (chap. 1), emphasizing the
Conquest of China (1959; reprint, Leiden, 1972), vol. 1,
ineffable nature of the way that underlies existence.
pp. 181–204. Kenneth Ch’en’s Buddhism in China: A Histor-
Despite this, it is possible to create a working definition,
ical Survey (Princeton, 1964) offers a summary of Dao’an’s
such as that by Benjamin Schwartz in his The World of
career on pages 94–103.
Thought in Ancient China (1985). He describes dao as “or-
For a good introduction to the Buddhism of North China in
ganic order”—organic in the sense that it is not willful. It
Dao’an’s time, see Arthur Wright’s essay on Dao’an’s teach-
is not a conscious, active creator, not a personal entity, but
er, “Fo-t’u-têng: A Biography,” Harvard Journal of Asiatic
rather an organic process that just moves along. It is mysteri-
Studies 11 (1948): 321–371. Dao’an’s biography in the
ous in its depth and unfathomable in its essence.
Gaoseng zhuan has been translated by Arthur Link in “The
Biography of Shih Tao-an,” T’oung pao 46 (1958): 1–48.
Beyond this, dao is also order, clearly manifest in the
Useful for their treatments of Dao’an and the prajña¯ tradi-
rhythmic changes and patterned processes of the natural
tions of the fourth and fifth centuries are Arthur Link’s “The
world. As such, it is predictable in its developments and can
Taoist Antecedents of Tao-an’s Prajña¯ Ontology,” History of
be analyzed and described in ordered patterns. These ordered
Religions 9 (1969–1970): 181–215; Kenneth Ch’en’s “Neo-
patterns are what the Chinese call ziran, or “self-so,” which
Taoism and the Prajña¯ School during the Wei and Chin
is the spontaneous and observable way things are naturally.
Dynasties,” Chinese Culture 1 (October 1957): 33–46; and
Yet while dao is very much nature, it is also more than nature.
Fung Yu-lan’s A History of Chinese Philosophy, vol. 2, The Pe-
It is also the essence of nature, the inner quality that makes
riod of Classical Learning, translated by Derk Bodde (Prince-
things what they are. It is governed by laws of nature, yet it
ton, 1953), pp. 243–258. Ui Hakuju’s Shaku Do¯an kenkyu¯
is also these laws itself.
(Tokyo, 1956) reviews Dao’an’s career and includes annotat-
ed editions of his major prefaces. For a discussion of Dao’an’s
In other words, it is possible to explain the nature of dao
translation guidelines, see O
¯ cho¯ Enichi’s “Shaku Do¯an
in terms of a twofold structure. The “dao that can be dao’ed”
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

and the “eternal dao.” The latter is the mysterious, ineffable
the word also came to mean a basic “goodness” or “generosi-
dao at the center of the cosmos; the former is the dao at the
ty,” as well as “to admire someone for his generosity,” indi-
periphery, visible and tangible in the natural cycles. About
cating the moral quality (virtue) and psychic force of a per-
the eternal dao, the Dao de jing says:
son (Munro, 1969).
Look at it and do not see it: we call it invisible. Listen
Used frequently in the politico-philosophical texts of
to it and do not hear it: we call it inaudible. Touch it
ancient China, de denotes an energy in the ruler that enables
and do not feel it: we call it subtle. . . . Infinite and
him to found or continue a dynasty. The theory was that
boundless, it cannot be named;. . . Call it vague and
heaven, surveying the world and finding the people suffering
obscure. (chap. 14; see LaFargue, 1992)
from disorder, conferred its mandate (ming) on the person
This dao is entirely beyond the perception of ordinary hu-
with the greatest de. His subsequent success attested to and
mans. It is so vague and obscure, so subtle and so potent, that
supported heaven’s choice. Usually, the first ruler of a dynas-
it is utterly beyond all knowing and analysis, and cannot be
ty is heavy with de and thus able to govern without effort
grasped however much one may try. The human body, the
(Lunyu 2.1). He does not need to use punishment to gain
human senses, and the human intellect are not equipped to
obedience; the wisest of the land are eager to serve him,
deal with dao on this level, and the only way a person can
knowing that he will heed their advice. Accordingly, the dia-
ever get in touch with it is by forgetting and transcending
logue of Mengzi with the king of Qi is centrally concerned
his or her ordinary human faculties, by becoming subtler and
with the question: “What innate de does one need to be
finer and more potent, more like dao itself.
Dao at the periphery, on the other hand, is characterized
Following the establishment of a dynasty, the usual pat-
as the give and take of various pairs of complementary oppo-
tern was that the ruler’s de diminished over time, until a new
sites, as the natural ebb and flow of things as they rise and
dynasty needed to be established and received the mandate
fall, come and go, grow and decline, are born and die. The
of heaven. This diminishing, however, was not inevitable,
Dao de jing says:
but involved the active forfeiture and loss of de by subsequent
rulers. It could be prevented through personal restraint and
To contract, there must first be expansion. To weaken,
there must first be strengthening. To destroy, there
ritual correctness, and many political texts serve to advise rul-
must first be promotion. To grasp, there must first be
ers on just how to maintain these. If not prevented, a bad
giving. This is called the subtle pattern. (chap. 36)
last ruler, who was entirely without de, would appear on the
scene. He would neglect the proper rituals, engage in sensual
Things, as long as they live, develop in alternating move-
indulgence, follow the advice of greedy counselors, exploit
ments, commonly described with the terms yin and yang. It
the people to build grandiose palaces, and govern by punish-
is the nature of life to be in constant change, and of things
ment and harsh measures.
to always be moving in one or the other direction, up or
down, towards lightness or heaviness, brightness or darkness,
The result of this vision of de is a paradox: the ruler who
and so on. Nature is in a continuous flow of becoming, latent
needs to be straightened out most lacks good counsel and
and transparent, described as the alternation of yin and yang,
would not listen if he had it, while the one who has good
complementary characteristics and directions, that cannot
counselors and is wise enough to recognize their wisdom and
exist without each other. This is the nature of dao as it can
listen to them is “virtuous” already. As the concept of de be-
be observed and followed in politics and self-cultivation. If
comes more recognizably “virtue,” which all people may
practiced properly, following this aspect of dao will ultimate-
have, it leads to a persistent difficulty in moral philosophy:
ly lead to a state of spontaneous alignment with the ineffable
the question of how de is to be imparted to the person who
dao, the creative force at the center (see Roth, 1999). Attain-
lacks it. The problem exasperated Confucius (e.g., Lunyu
ing this state of perfect alignment is described as sagehood
5.9, 6.10). Later philosophers had various solutions, such as
and being in complete nonaction (wuwei).
Mengzi and his famous principle of the inherent goodness
of human nature.
De as a term goes back further than dao. It has been
identified in the oracle bones, where it seems to indicate a
Another paradox arises not from the aspect of de as
psychic quality of the king that is approved by the spirits and
moral virtue but from its aspect as psychic force. The person
that gives him influence and prestige (Nivison, 1978–1979).
with de has prestige, effectiveness, and status—things people
Thus, in the Shang dynasty, heaven or the ancestors would
desire. However, in order to acquire and strengthen de, one
recognize and “approve” the de of a sacrificer, preferring the
must be self-denying, sincerely generous, and generally good.
“fragrance” of his offerings to those of others (Shangshu 30).
Therefore, efforts to gain more de must be self-defeating, un-
The good king observes the religious duty to care for de in
less one seems to be trying to avoid it. The Dao de jing solves
himself, seen as a psychic entity implanted in the person by
this issue by saying:
heaven. Not unlike the concept of mana in Polynesian reli-
The person of superior de is not conscious of his de;
gions, de is thus the personal power inherent in a person that
therefore he has de. The person of inferior de never loses
allows him or her to be vibrant and strong and rule in harmo-
sight of his de; therefore he loses de. The person of supe-
ny with the wishes of the gods and ancestors. By extension,
rior de takes no action and has no ulterior motive
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

for doing anything. The person of inferior de takes
To sum up, de means the inherent force and power that
many actions and follows ulterior motives in doing so.
moves the world and makes people and animals come to life.
(chap. 38)
It can be held to a greater or lesser degree, be purer or cruder,
superior or inferior. When strong and radiant, it imparts it-
Thus, the person with the greatest de is unassuming and un-
self to others and creates harmony and good government,
impressive, follows the patterns of dao in nonaction, and
thus resulting in a “virtuous” situation and imbuing its carri-
comes to serve all. Again, the text says: “Strong de appears
er with virtue—in the original sense of virtus, the power that
as if unsteady; / true substance seems to be changeable”
makes a man strong and valiant. When lost, it results in
(chap. 41).
death or the loss of inherent integrity—both cosmic and
The person in the Dao de jing who has perfect de is also
moral—which in turn causes political corruption and the
most in line with dao: the sage, who can be, but does not
downfall of dynasties.
have to be, the ruler. The sage is described as unobtrusive,
Dao and de in combination occur mainly in Daoist
inactive, and independent, free from all possessions or at-
texts. The Dao de jing is the classic example. Divided into
tachments and without a formal teaching or program of ac-
eighty-one chapters, the text also has two major parts, a Dao
tion. Because he is all these things, which match him to the
jing, and a De jing. The former discusses the more cosmic
natural forces of heaven and earth, “the sage is whole” (chap.
dimensions of life and the larger perspective of Daoist
22) and his accomplishments are thorough and long-lasting.
thought; the latter focuses on the concrete activities and pat-
Part of his permeating effect is that he subtly and impercepti-
terns of daily life. De here describes the activation of dao in
bly—like the dao—spreads de by just being, imposing some
the visible cycles of existence; that is, dao at the periphery.
of his psychic force and inherent goodness on others. There-
Both parts are of equal importance in the text, but while the
by he “causes people to be unknowing and free from desires,
standard version of the Dao de jing places the dao part first,
so that the smart ones will not dare to impose” (chap. 3). He
the manuscripts found at Mawangdui (168 BCE) reverse the
is “always there to help the people, rejecting no one and no
order (see Henricks, 1989).
creature” (chap. 27), never puts himself forward in any way
yet finds himself a nucleus of social and cosmic activity.
A fifth-century religious Daoist text that takes up the
Dao de jing in its mystical dimension and links it to practices
Not presenting himself, he is radiant. Not thinking
of ritual and self-cultivation also discusses the relationship
himself right, he is famous. Not pushing himself for-
between dao and de. Section 10 of the Xisheng jing (Scripture
ward, he is meritorious. Not pitying himself, he is emi-
of western ascension) relates dao and de and connects both
nent. (chap. 22)
to the social virtues of Confucianism:
The Dao de jing is a good example of a text where the politi-
In dao, make nonbeing the highest; in de make kindness
cal quality of de as virtue is conflated with the more psycho-
your master. In ceremony, make righteousness your
logical aspect of de as inherent life force. In this latter sense,
feeling; in acting, make grace your friend. In benevo-
de indicates the essential character of anyone or anything, ef-
lence, make advantage your ideal; in faith, make effica-
fective in interaction with people and things. The same is
ciousness your goal. . . .When kindness, social re-
also apparent in other philosophical texts. Thus, Confucius
sponsibility, ceremony, and faith are lost, dao and de are
says that “the de of the ruler is wind; that of the people is
also discarded, they perish and decay. When social de
grass” (Lunyu 12.19); and the correspondence system of the
is not substantiated by dao, it will be supported only by
five phases, which fully developed in the Han dynasty, de-
material wealth. (Kohn, 1991, p. 242)
scribes its different aspects as the wu de or the “five powers”
In the same way, the texts suggests that “the way the good
(see Yates, 1997).
person acts in the world can be compared to the bellows: he
never contends with others, his de always depends on dao.
In the Zhuangzi (the Book of Master Zhuang, the second
This is because he is empty and void and utterly free from
major text of ancient Daoism, compiled in the third century
desires” (sect. 18). Dao and de in this text are thus seen as
BCE), this more physical yet intangible aspect of de is made
closely related, and one cannot be cultivated without the
clear in a chapter called “The Sign of Virtue Complete”
other. More importantly, the concept of de is expanded to
(chap. 5), and particularly in the story of the suckling pigs.
include the various specific virtues of Confucian society.
Told in the voice of Confucius, it tells of a group of little
pigs nursing at the body of their dead mother. “After a while
The most detailed Daoist discussion of the relation of
they gave a start and ran away, leaving the body behind, be-
dao and de is found in the Daoti lun (On the embodiment
cause they could no longer see their likeness in her. . . .
of dao), a short scholastic treatise associated with Sima
They loved not her body but the thing that moved her
Chengzhen (647–735), the twelfth patriarch of Highest
body”( i.e., her de). By the same token, several other stories
Clarity (Shangqing) Daoism. According to the text, “dao is
in the same chapter tell of people who have lost a part of their
all-pervasive; it transforms all from the beginning. De arises
body (maimed in war or as punishment) but are in no way
in its following; it completes all beings to their end. They ap-
impaired in their de, their inherent life force—the thing that
pear in birth and the completion of life. In the world, they
moves the body—still being complete.
have two different names, yet fulfilling their activities, they
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

return to the same ancestral ground. Dao and de are two and
SEE ALSO Chinese Religion, overview article; Daoism, over-
yet always one. Therefore, there is no dao outside of the om-
view article.
nipresence of de. There is no de different from the comple-
tion of life through dao. They are one and still appear as two.
Dao is found in endless transformation and pervasive omni-
Graham, A. C. Disputers of the Tao: Philosophical Argument in An-
presence. De shines forth in the completion of life and in fol-
cient China. La Salle, Ill., 1989. Overview of ancient Chinese
lowing along. They are always one; they are always two. Two
thought, discussing different dimensions of the concept of
in one, they are all-pervasive. All-pervasive, they can yet be
distinguished. Thus their names are dao and de” (Daoti lun
Hansen, Chad. A Daoist Theory of Chinese Thought: A Philosophi-
1a; see Kohn, 1998, p. 130).
cal Interpretation. New York, 1992. Presentation of dao as
meta-language in relation to various philosophical dis-
According to this, dao and de are two aspects of the un-
derlying creative power of life; they need each other and de-
pend on each other. They are different yet the same, separate
Henricks, Robert, ed. and trans. Lao-Tzu: Te-Tao ching. New
York, 1989. Translation of the Dao de jing as found in several
yet one, nameless yet named, at rest yet in constant move-
manuscript versions at Mawangdui.
ment. Pervading all, penetrating all, they are indistinct, yet
can also be distinguished and named, creating a particular
Kohn, Livia. Taoist Mystical Philosophy: The Scripture of Western
Ascension. Albany, N.Y., 1991. Translation and discussion of
vision of reality. Names and reality, then, raise the problem
the fifth-century scripture Xisheng jing.
of epistemology and knowledge of dao. Both names and real-
ity ultimately belong to the same underlying structure that
Kohn, Livia. “Taoist Scholasticism: A Preliminary Inquiry.” In
essentially can never be grasped. But they are also an active
Scholasticism: Cross-Cultural and Comparative Perspectives,
edited by José Ignacio Cabezón, pp. 115–140. Albany, N.Y.,
part of the world.
1998. Discussion of the speculative dimension of religious
The practical application of this concept of dao and de
Daoism, including a presentation and partial translation of
as two aspects of the same underlying power is realized in
the Daoti lun.
Daoist cultivation. Through mystical practice, adepts strip
LaFargue, Michael, trans. and ed. The Tao of the Tao-te-ching. Al-
off all names and classifications in their minds, and allow the
bany, N.Y., 1992. Translation and interpretation of the Dao
“chaos perfected” nature of dao to emerge. Chaos, as the text
de jing with particular attention to the vision of dao.
explains, means “without distinctions,” something, not a
Munro, Donald J. “The Origin of the Concept of Te.” In The
thing, that cannot be called by any name. Perfected means
Concept of Man in Early China, edited by D. J. Munro,
“total and centered in itself,” some not-thing that has no re-
pp. 185–197. Stanford, Calif., 1969; reprint, Ann Arbor,
ferent outside of itself. Speaking of self or beings as “chaos
Mich., 2001. On the earliest understanding of the concept
perfected” thus creates a dichotomy that is not there original-
of de.
ly. Any name, even that attached to the human body, arises
Nivison, David S. “Royal ‘Virtue’ in Shang Oracle Inscriptions.”
from a conscious self and is mere projection. The concept
Early China 4 (1978–1979): 52–55. On the most ancient
is a formal expression of a perceived difference—it is unrelat-
forms and meanings of de.
ed to the being as being, as chaos perfected (Daoti lun 5a).
Roth, Harold D., trans. and ed. Original Tao: Inward Training
(Nei-yeh) and the Foundations of Taoist Mysticism. New
Knowledge of dao is thus a contradiction in terms, yet
York, 1999. Translation and discussion of mystical chapters
that is precisely what Daoism is about, what adepts strive to
of the Guanzi, an ancient Daoist text.
realize. It can only be attained in utter so-being, a state that
Schwartz, Benjamin. The World of Thought in Ancient China.
is both empty and serene and not empty and not serene at
Cambridge, Mass., 1985. Overview of ancient Chinese phi-
the same time. It thereby comes close to dao, which embodies
emptiness and rests originally in serenity, yet is also actual-
Vandermeersch, Leon. Wangdao ou La voie royale: Recherches sur
ized in the living world and moves along with beings and
l’esprit des institutions de la Chine archaique. 2 vols. Paris,
things (Daoti lun 5b).
1980. Extensive discussion of the “dao” of the king in ancient
The close connection of de to dao in this vision is ap-
China, examining historical and philosophical sources.
plied to guide practitioners to an integrated mystical vision
Yates, Robin D. S., trans. and ed. Five Lost Classics: Tao, Huang-
of the universe and lead them toward the attainment of sage-
Lao, and Yin-Yang in Han China. New York, 1997. Transla-
hood and oneness with dao. De helps to explain why, “if
tion and discussion of proto-Daoist materials found at Ma-
there is no difference between all beings and dao, should one
cultivate it at all?” The answer is that “cultivation makes up
for the discrepancy, however minor, between the root and
its embodiment, and leads back to original nonbeing” (Daoti
8b). De, the visible, tangible, and active part of dao in
the world is the bridge that allows the first step in this direc-
DAOCHUO (562–645), known in Japan as Do¯shaku;
tion—a major stepping stone in the recovery of the original
Chinese pioneer of Pure Land Buddhism in East Asia.
flow of life in dao.
Daochuo advocated devotion to Amita¯bha Buddha and re-
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

birth in his Pure Land as the only practice in our age that
rary attachment to concrete forms in Pure Land devotion-
would guarantee salvation. Although Pure Land devotion
was popular among most Maha¯ya¯na Buddhists as a supple-
The most important disciple of Daochuo was Shandao
mentary practice, Daochuo followed Tanluan (c. 488–c.
(613–681), who wrote systematic works that firmly estab-
554) in regarding it as necessary for salvation. Other forms
lished Pure Land as a major religious tradition in East Asia
of Buddhism he branded as the “path of the sages” (sheng-
and influenced Honen in Japan. It was the sense of crisis and
dao), too difficult to practice during these times.
urgency that permeates the Anloji that dramatized the neces-
A religious crisis caused in part by the bewildering de-
sity of Pure Land devotion, while the concrete methods of
mands of Indian Buddhist texts in the eyes of Chinese practi-
practice that Daochuo promoted made Pure Land attractive
tioners was exacerbated by famine and war in the Bingzhou
and accessible to common people. Pure Land devotion thus
area of Shansi Province where Daochuo lived, and he became
became a popular social movement in China for the first
the first Pure Land thinker to proclaim that the ten-
time, and the sound of Amita¯bha’s name has been chanted
thousand-year historical period predicted by the scriptures
unceasingly in Chinese Buddhist worship ever since.
for the final decline of Buddhism (i.e., the mofa; Jpn.,
mappo¯) was at hand. Accordingly, he deemed traditional
EE ALSO Honen; Jingtu; Mappo
¯ Shandao; Tanluan.
practices inadequate since no one could attain enlightenment
based on self-effort. For Daochuo, the only hope was
The Anloji (Jpn., Anrakushu¯) of Daochuo is available in George
through outside help. He preached that the Wuliangshou jing
Eishin Shibata’s “A Study and Translation of the Anraku
(the Larger Sukha¯vat¯ıvyu¯ha Su¯tra) was designed for this peri-
Shu¯” (M.A. thesis, Ryu¯koku University, 1969).
od and that reliance on the compassionate vows of the Bud-
Readers of Japanese will want to consult Nogami Shunjo¯’s Chu-
dha Amita¯bha—which guarantee people of ordinary reli-
goku jo¯do sansoden (Kyoto, 1970) and Yamamoto Bukkotu’s
gious capacities rebirth in his Pure Land followed by speedy
Do¯shaku kyo¯gaku no kenkyu¯ (Kyoto, 1957).
and painless enlightenment there—was the only soteriologi-
cally effective action remaining.
After his conversion to Pure Land in 609, Daochuo
took up residence in the Xuanzhong Monastery. There, he
lectured over two hundred times on the Kuan wu-liang-shou
This entry consists of the following articles:
ching (*Amita¯yurdhya¯na Su¯tra) and advocated its practices,
especially the vocal recitation of Amita¯bha’s name (nianfo;
Jpn., nembutsu). Departing from the view of Tanluan, for
whom nianfo involved a transcendent quality of mystical
union with Amita¯bha’s name, Daochuo was the first Chinese
Buddhist to teach reliance on verbal recitation, which was
to be aided by bushels of beans or rosaries to record the num-
The English word Daoism, with its nominalizing suffix, has
ber of recitations. (Daochuo himself is alleged to have recited
no counterpart in the Chinese language. The term has been
the name of Amita¯bha as much as seventy thousand times
used in Western writings on China to refer to a wide range
a day.) As a consequence, Pure Land devotion spread rapidly
of phenomena. First, scholars employ the term Daoism to
among the laity under the slogan “chant the Buddha’s name
designate early philosophical texts classified as representing
and be reborn in the Pure Land” (nianfo wangsheng) and ro-
daojia (schools of the Dao) in early Chinese bibliographic
saries became ubiquitous in Chinese Buddhism.
works. Some of these, such as the Dao de jing (The classic
Because the prajña¯pa¯ramita¯ literature affirmed that real-
of the way and its power), also known as the Laozi after its
ity is characterized by both form and emptiness, Daochuo
supposed author, propounded methods of governance based
argued for the legitimacy of using verbal recitations and at-
on mystical gnosis, inaction on the part of the ruler, and a
tention to the physical aspect of Amita¯bha and his Pure
metaphysics centered on the concept of the Dao. Others,
Land. These practices, he believed, were temporary expedi-
such as the eponymous Zhuangzi, emphasized mystical
ents to lead people to formlessness, nonattachment, and non-
union with the Dao and equanimity in the face of death and
duality after rebirth in the Pure Land. In his only surviving
other natural processes.
writing, the Anloji, Daochuo acknowledges that understand-
Second, given the staunch antipathy toward Confucian
ing the Pure Land as formless is superior to seeing it as form,
methods of social organization common to texts classified
and that one’s original motivation should be a desire for en-
daojia, the term Daoism has been employed in modern schol-
lightenment (bodhicitta) in order to save others, not just de-
arship to mark a wide range of anti-Confucian, utopian, and
sire for the bliss of Pure Land. However, according to the
escapist strains of thought. For instance, eremitic withdrawal
Maha¯ya¯na doctrine of “two truths,” those who understand
from government service, a practice with deep roots in the
the ultimate truth of emptiness are able to use the conven-
Confucian tradition, was until recently routinely portrayed
tional truth of form to save beings, thus legitimizing tempo-
as “Daoism.”
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

Third, and even more loosely, Daoism has been used in
Daoist texts as well, but with an added dimension of great
works on China to express a sort of free-flowing effortlessness
significance. For Daoists, the Dao underwent further trans-
informing individual endeavors, especially the arts of callig-
formations, analogous to those it underwent at the begin-
raphy, painting, music, and the like. Fourth, Daoism has
nings of time, to incarnate itself in human history. The Dao
been used to refer to any Chinese religious practice that is
itself is seen as anthropomorphic, possessed of likes and dis-
not identifiably Confucian or Buddhist. Fifth, and more
likes, desires, sentiments, and motivations—the full range of
strictly, the term Daoism is used by scholars to translate the
human emotions. At the same time, the Dao might act in
Chinese term daojiao (literally, “teachings of the Dao”), the
history through avatars, such as Laozi, who were fully human
closest analogue for our term Daoism. The Chinese, like the
in appearance. Finally, a number of deities, including those
Japanese, had no formal name for their native religion until
resident in the human body, are regarded as divine hyposta-
the arrival of Buddhism. The term daojiao was thus fairly
ses of the Dao.
widely adopted to distinguish Daoist religious practice from
fojiao, “the teachings of the Buddha,” or Buddhism.
Qi has been variously translated as “breath,” “pneuma,”
“vapor,” or “energy.” Seen as the basic building block of all
The present entry deals solely with these religious move-
things in the universe, qi is both energy and matter. In its
ments. Even with our narrower focus, problems of definition
primordial form, before division, the Dao is described as
remain. Most Daoist organizations lacked or failed to em-
“nothingness,” void and null. The first sign that it was about
phasize elements deemed essential in other religions. With
to divide, a process that would eventuate in the creation of
some exceptions, most Daoists throughout history would
the sensible world, was the appearance within this nothing-
agree that their religion did not have a single founder, a
ness of qi, a term that originally seems to have meant
closed canon of scriptures, a unified creed, exclusive criteria
“breath” or “steam.” All physical objects in the universe are
of lay membership, or a stable pantheon. Historically speak-
thus composed of relatively stable qi, while rarified qi is re-
ing, the most important structuring force was not internal,
sponsible for motion and energy and is the vital substance
but external to the religion. In its efforts to impose order on
of life. In that the Dao is characterized by regular and cyclical
the realm, the state from time to time sought to control Dao-
change, the transformations of qi could be described in terms
ism through overseeing the initiation of clerics, the number
of recurring cycles, marked off in terms of yin, yang, the five
of temples, the approved canon, and the like. While none
phases, or the eight trigrams of the Yi jing. In such interlock-
of these attempts were ultimately successful, they did provide
ing systems, qi was the intervening matrix by which things
impetus for stricter organizational cohesion than would oth-
sharing the same coordinates in the cycle might resonate and
erwise have been the case.
influence one another.
The high degree of doctrinal flexibility deployed by
Daoists, building both on such cosmological specula-
Daoist organizations often leads modern scholars to debate
tion and on various practices for extending life that featured
which specific ideas and practices might or might not be
the induction into the body of pure, cosmic qi, came to re-
called Daoist. A more productive approach, one that empha-
gard qi as the primary medium by which one might appre-
sizes not what Daoism is, but how various traditions func-
hend and eventually join with the Dao. Most meditation
tioned within society, will notice how Daoism has remained
practices, in one way or another, involve swallowing qi and
an open system, accepting elements drawn from diverse
circulating it within the body. The primary difference be-
sources and organizing them according to a constellation of
tween Daoist meditations and similar hygiene practices is
key principles and practices. None of these constituents are
that Daoists visualize the substance either in deified form or
exclusive to or original with the Daoist traditions. Yet the
as the astral sustenance for qi-formed deities resident in the
distinctiveness of the religion lies in the combination of such
body. In fact, all of the gods are held to be concretions of
elements into a structure of beliefs and practices with distinct
qi from the earliest moments of the Dao’s division. Qi, par-
priorities. These priorities are explored in the following
ticularly that mysterious substance known as yuan qi (primal
qi) thus bridges the gulf between the sensible and the supra-
mundane worlds.
KEY ASPECTS OF DAOISM. The defining concept of the Dao-
ist religion is the Dao itself, understood in a particular way.
Macrocosm-microcosm. While all existence is seen to
The term dao, originally denoting a “way” or “path,” came
be part of the Dao, movements away from its primordial
to be used in pre-Han philosophical discourse to refer to the
condition of unity are held to be destructive, evil, and trans-
proper course of human conduct and, by extension, to the
gressive. The perfect human is thus imagined to be a flawless
teachings of any philosophical school, especially insofar as
microcosm of the cosmic whole, with the bodily spirits per-
these were based on the venerated ways of the sages of antiq-
fectly attuned to their counterparts in the macrocosm. The
uity. In the Laozi, the Zhuangzi, and other early writings, the
most common depiction of the body in Daoist writings holds
Dao came to be seen not as human order, but as the meta-
that it is divided into three realms, corresponding to the tri-
physical basis of natural order itself, inchoate yet capable of
partite cosmic division into heaven, humanity, and earth. A
being comprehended by the sage, primordial yet eternally
spot in the brain, between and behind the eyebrows, controls
present. This Dao of the early thinkers informs religious
the palaces of the head; the heart, organ of sentience and
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

emotion, controls the center; and a spot above the pubis,
as an official in this celestial pantheon. Because of this, Dao-
center of reproduction, controls the life force. These are
ist priests are sometimes called “officials of the Dao.”
sometimes called the “three primes” or the “three cinnabar
The gods who fill various ranks in the pantheon, includ-
fields.” From an initial unity before birth, the human body
ing the highest, are not fixed. Daoists hold that gods, as part
moves towards increased diversity and closer to death.
of a changeable cosmos, are themselves subject to change and
Daoist ritual is much concerned with identifying and
can be promoted or demoted. A number of rituals end with
combating the forces of aging, degeneration, and illness. The
a procedure to “establish merit,” whereby the gods invoked
goal, at once temporal and spatial, is to bring the various as-
in the rite are recommended for promotion in gratitude for
pects of the body back into unified harmony. Beings who ex-
their prompt aid. Divinities from Buddhism and the gods
isted in this state are called xian (Transcendents) or zhenren
worshiped by local cults could also be absorbed into the pan-
(Perfected). Generally, xian had once been human, while
theon. New revelations almost always include information
zhenren are pure manifestations of aspects of the Dao,
on new gods or rearrangements of the existing pantheon.
though this distinction is not always strictly maintained.
Ritual. Meditations and ritual practices are designed to
In the correlative cosmology of Chinese science devel-
bring individuals and communities back to a state of integra-
oped during the early Han dynasty, the earth was held to
tion with the Dao. Modeled on the dawn assemblies held by
mirror the heavens, so that each portion of the realm corre-
the human monarch to review his officials, the basic ritual
sponded precisely with a sector of the heavens. This corre-
program brings the Daoist priest in vision before the assem-
spondence was the basis for the determination of the celestial
bled bureaucracy of heaven where, through his merit, he can
omens that were regularly reported to the throne. The pole
formally request the rectification of disease or other disorder.
star and surrounding constellations corresponded to the em-
Ritual robes, headgear, and paraphernalia, all carefully de-
peror and his court, so that “invasions” of meteors or comets
scribed in Daoist manuals, are fashioned after the styles of
in that portion of the sky were held to be particularly dire
the imperial court. Communication with the spirits of heav-
portents. In addition, four (and later five) mountains, or
en takes place sometimes through recitation of petitions,
“marchmounts,” were designated the corners and center of
sometimes through their presentation by burning. In addi-
the square earth, symbolically encompassing the realm and
tion, some documents—talismans and longer texts—are
corresponding to the five phases. These mountains, which
written in “celestial script,” an imaginative form of writing
support the sky dome, were thus points where communica-
loosely resembling ancient forms of Chinese graphs, but il-
tion with heaven was easiest. Most important in this regard
legible to ordinary mortals.
was the eastern marchmount, Taishan, associated with the
One striking feature of Daoist ritual is the way it col-
east, the rising of the sun, and new beginnings. Here a num-
lapses space and time. The ritual space is constructed to sym-
ber of Chinese emperors ascended to perform a rite called
bolize the cosmos, overlaid with the vertical dimension of the
the fengshan to seal with heaven their mandate to rule.
center, which represents the highest courts of the heavens.
These concepts were further developed in Daoism.
Temporally, Daoist ritual seeks to bring its performers back
Daoist ritual often focuses on the northern dipper, whose
to the moment of cosmogenesis, when the Dao was integrat-
movements mark the passage of time, and on the palaces of
ed and whole. In its fully developed form, Daoist ritual be-
the apex of heaven, the higher gods of which are described
came a colorful pageant that had a marked influence on Chi-
in great detail. The other asterisms, the sun, and the moon
nese drama. The ascent of the priests to the courts of heaven
also house gods responsible for the orderly revolutions of
is outwardly symbolized with banners, retinues of acolytes
these celestial bodies who could be accessed through ritual.
bearing incense and flowers, and ritual pacing accompanied
Eventually, all of the marchmounts boasted Daoist temples.
by austere music.
Bureaucratic pantheons. Imperial symbolism extends
Eschatology. In its concern with time, Daoism adopted
into almost every aspect of the Daoist religion. Aspects of the
the notion of cyclical return common to ancient Chinese
Dao are visualized as the lord of heaven with a dizzying num-
metaphysics. One component of the “Mandate of Heaven”
ber of spirit-officials. Just as the well-run kingdom depended
concept was that empires rose and fell in a regular cycle, a
on the labors of its bureaucracy, so the workings of the cos-
cycle that was eventually associated with the cyclical progress
mos depend on this pantheon of spirits. The human body
of the five phases. Daoist contributions to this system of
is held to house a corresponding pantheon of spirits. Daoist
thought came to the fore particularly when the religion was
methods for communicating with the spirits of the body and
employed by one or another aspirant to the throne to sup-
the heavens involve both visualization meditations and the
port his program. But, given that Daoism came into being
actual delivery of documents, swallowed for the internal spir-
as a religious entity during the final days of the Han empire,
its and buried, submerged, or burned for delivery to the cos-
dire pronouncements concerning an imminent sweeping
mic pantheon. Illness, like disorders in the human realm, can
away of the unjust and the establishment of a new kingdom
be cured through such petitioning rites, the goal of which
of Great Peace were always part of the religion, helping to
is to bring disharmony to the attention of the highest gods.
support its program of moral reform. One early version
When the priest presents such documents, he or she is acting
promised that the righteous would be the “seed people” of
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

the coming age, chosen to repopulate the new divinely sanc-
berg with three peaks. Above the waterline, the peaks are dis-
tioned kingdom. Equally important were the contributions
tinct, but below, where the religion of the common masses
of Buddhist scripture, whose vast cosmological visions and
is situated, they merge into undifferentiation.
descriptions of “kalpa cycles” came to inform eschatological
Such is not the case for Daoist interactions with the
popular, or common, religion of the Chinese people, which
Morality. The idea that humans, through indulging
is centered on cults to the powerful dead who are often con-
their desires and hoarding what should be shared, block the
sulted through mediums and propitiated with meat sacrifice.
correct circulation of energies that should exist in the ideal
Originally, Daoist organizations forthrightly banned all such
Daoist kingdom has been present from the beginning. As
worship of “blood eaters,” arguing that these unholy gods
noted above, illness was seen by early Daoists as a sign of
only drained the sustenance of those who worshipped them.
such transgression. Followers were urged to repent of trans-
Eventually, a few such figures were admitted to the Daoist
gressions and to petition the deities to repair the imbalances
pantheon and other associated practices, such as fortune-
caused thereby. The primary transgression mentioned in
telling, were allowed. Nonetheless, most Daoist lineages
Daoist writings seems to be covetousness or desire. Even
strove first and foremost to distinguish their practice from
when providing explanations for the Laozi, however, early
that of common cult religion.
Daoists did not follow that text in its rejection of Confucian
virtues such as humaneness and responsibility. Instead, they
AND SECOND CENTURIES CE. As mentioned above, the Dao-
argued that such virtues were too often merely outward and
ist religion began with the founding of the Way of the Celes-
advocated the practice of “secret virtue,” good acts per-
tial Masters (Tianshi dao) in the second century CE. Recent
formed secretly so that only the gods would know and re-
archeological finds and increased scholarly attention have
ward the agent. Eventually, Daoist texts and morality tracts
begun to clarify the lively religious scene of the Han dynasty
regularly came to include lists of precepts to be followed by
(206 BCE–220 CE) that provided the backdrop to this event
priests and by the laity.
and contributed elements that were shaped into the Daoist
Relations with other religions. The doctrinal flexibili-
ty of Daoist practice meant that the system was quite accom-
From later Warring States times, shadowy fangshi or
modating to Buddhism, and later to such foreign imports as
“masters of prescriptions” sought patronage with various rul-
Manichaeism. This ability to absorb the beliefs and practices
ers, promulgating esoteric techniques passed from master to
of other religions could elicit a negative response from pro-
disciple. These included knowledge of paradises beyond the
ponents of the targeted religion. One idea that resurfaced
seas, alchemical, magical, and medical techniques, and the
several times in Chinese history was that Buddhism was but
ability to contact spirits. From such sources there grew a
a foreign version of Daoism, created by Laozi himself when
widespread popular belief in the existence of xian, “Tran-
he disappeared through the western gates of the Chinese
scendents” or “Immortals,” winged beings who could bypass
kingdom. Insofar as this story was related to show that Dao-
death, travel vast distances to inhabit remote paradises, or
ism was fit for the Han peoples, while Buddhism had been
confer blessings on deserving mortals. One of the most pow-
specifically crafted for “foreign barbarians,” it was rightly
erful of these was the Queen Mother of the West, who was
seen by Buddhists as an attempt to co-opt their religion.
held to reside on the mythical cosmic mountain Kunlun. In
Books propounding this theory were imperially banned sev-
the opening years of the common era, a panic spread through
eral times.
the Shandong peninsula when farmers left their fields and
Most Daoist adaptations of Buddhist doctrine and prac-
traveled west to greet what they said was the imminent arrival
tice were innocent of such motives. Since Buddhist su¯tras
of this deity. The Queen Mother would eventually find a
were translated into Chinese, it was natural that Buddhist
place in the Daoist pantheon. From around the same time
doctrine had to be explained in native terms. Daoism often
we have records of others sacrificing to the deified Laozi, re-
informed or, through adapting Buddhist doctrine and prac-
garding him as a salvific, cosmic deity in the fashion of the
tice to its own uses, reconfigured those native understand-
archaic deity Taiyi.
ings. While appropriations went both ways, it is undeniable
Another aspect of Han belief that was adapted into
that many features of the Daoist religion are adaptations of
Daoism was the idea that documents addressed to the bu-
ideas brought in with Buddhism. The distinctive Daoist
reaucracy of the otherworld should be interred with the dead
ideas of rebirth, of the underworld purgatories, of monastic
to facilitate the transfer from one realm to the other and to
life—to name but a few—all grew from productive interac-
ensure that the dead did not return to injure the living. Ar-
tions with Buddhism. Generations of Chinese scholar-
cheologically recovered documents, addressed to the Yellow,
officials and Buddhist scholiasts sought to clarify the bound-
or Heavenly, Thearch and his officers attest to this belief.
aries between the two religions, but the attempt proved less
than successful. Indeed, as Erik Zürcher (1983) has re-
Perhaps the most important ingredient, however, was
marked, China’s three great religions—Buddhism, Daoism,
the constellation of ideas surrounding Han imperial religion.
and Confucianism—might be envisioned as a floating ice-
These include the belief that heaven responds directly to
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human actions, rewarding good and evil, and that heaven
Zhang Jue organized his followers into thirty-six admin-
forecasts its will through signs and portents. The Han court
istrative regions. The new age of the Yellow Heaven was to
invested a good deal of administrative energy in collecting
dawn in the year 184, the beginning of a new sexagesimal
and analyzing such portents. This led to the composition of
cycle by the Chinese calendar. Despite well-laid plans, news
apocryphal addenda (chenwei) to the imperially-sanctioned
of Zhang Jue’s uprising reached the court and the Yellow
Confucian classics that detailed the systems underlying celes-
Turbans were defeated within the year.
tial omens and explained how to interpret them. According
The ideologies and practices of the early Celestial Mas-
to these texts, heaven regularly intervened in human history
ters were superficially similar to those of the Yellow Turbans.
by sending its envoys in human form. Normally, these di-
Historians note that the early Celestial Masters knew of the
vinely engendered beings were seen to be the founders of new
Scripture of Great Peace, but there is no conclusive evidence
dynasties. But cultural heroes, such as Confucius, were also
of any direct connection between the two movements. The
born in this fashion.
Celestial Masters revered as founder Zhang Ling (Zhang
In the chaotic years leading up to the fall of the Han
Daoling in Daoist texts), a man of Pei (in modern Jiangsu
dynasty, a number of aspirants to the throne, holding that
province) who traveled to the kingdom of Shu (the western
celestial approbation had departed from the Liu house, em-
part of modern Sichuan) to study the Dao on Mount Crane-
ployed religious persuasions of the sort that had supported
call. Daoist texts record that there, in the year 142 CE, he was
the divine mandate of the dynasty to mobilize followers.
visited by the “Newly appeared Lord Lao,” the deified Laozi.
Among the rebel groups mentioned by court historians was
Laozi granted him the title “Heavenly [-appointed] Teacher”
the organization to which later Daoists traced the beginnings
or Celestial Master. On Ling’s death, the title of Celestial
of their dispensation, the Celestial Masters. Sometimes men-
Master was passed on to his son Heng, and eventually to his
tioned by historians in the same tone was a more infamous
grandson, Lu. The line of transmission, it is claimed, remains
group, the Yellow Turbans.
unbroken this day, but the first three Celestial Masters, and
their wives, are the most important. Later Daoist ritual regu-
Centered in the eastern reaches of the Han empire, the
larly includes the invocation of their names.
Yellow Turban rebellion, led by a man named Zhang Jue,
was a well-planned insurrection organized around a millen-
Some scholars have suggested, however, that the legends
nial religious ideology. Zhang called his movement the “Way
of the first two Celestial Masters were fabrications, since only
of Great Peace” and, under the slogan that the “Yellow Heav-
Zhang Lu is mentioned in non-Daoist historical records.
en is about to rise,” sought to position himself and his fol-
Nonetheless, a stele inscription found in the modern prov-
lowers as the vanguard of a new and perfect society. It is like-
ince of Sichuan, recording the initiation of a group of liba-
ly that this ideology was drawn from a revealed book, the
tioners, or priests, in 173 CE, attests to the fact that Celestial
Scripture of Great Peace, perhaps a version of a work that had
Master practice existed at that time and already had pro-
been promulgated earlier in the Han dynasty by a court fac-
duced a corpus of scriptures.
tion. The Scripture of Great Peace, which survives only in
The Celestial Masters divided their followers into twen-
fifth- or sixth-century recensions, promotes an ideal social
ty-four parishes or dioceses, each headed by a libationer. But
structure based on cosmic principles, particularly the idea
this hierarchy was not organized along traditional lines.
that the moral action of each person determines not only in-
Women and non-Han peoples—two groups so devalued in
dividual wellbeing, but also the health of the body politic and
traditional Chinese society that accounts of them, if they ap-
the smooth functioning of the cosmos.
peared at all, were placed at the end of standard histories—
The Yellow Turbans converted people to their cause
were welcomed as full members of the Celestial Masters’
through healing practices, including incantation, doses of
community. Both could serve as libationers, and men were
water infused with the ashes of talismans, and confession of
encouraged to emulate virtues specifically associated with
sins. The Scripture of Great Peace relates confession to the
idea that political and cosmic disease is caused by humans
Libationers instructed the people by means of the Dao
and must be cured on the individual level. Sin, in this text,
de jing, which was to be recited chorally so that even the illit-
is the failure to act in accord with one’s social role, thereby
erate could be instructed. The Xiang’er commentary to the
blocking the circulation of the Dao’s energies. Those who
Dao de jing, attributed to Zhang Lu and surviving in part in
should labor with their bodies fail to do so, but live in idle-
a Tang dynasty manuscript recovered from Dunhuang, at-
ness; those who possess wealth keep it for their own enjoy-
tests to the novel ways in which they interpreted the text.
ment rather than allowing it to circulate; and those who
should teach virtue only “accumulate” it for their personal
As Terry Kleeman (1994) has shown, the central teach-
benefit. These and other blockages to the circulation of
ing of the Celestial Masters, called “the Correct and Ortho-
goods and life forces lead, by this account, to illness and
dox Covenant with the Powers,” held that “the gods do not
death. This strict correspondence between microcosm and
eat or drink, the master does not accept money.” This stric-
macrocosm was to be a prominent feature of later Daoist
ture, as clarified in the Xiang’er commentary, mandates the
rejection of blood sacrifice, central to popular and imperial
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

cult. In place of gods, and their priests, who could be swayed
A fascinating document found in the Daoist canon, the
by offerings, the Celestial Masters revered deities who were
“Commands and Admonitions for the Families of the Great
pure emanations of the Dao and ate only qi. Agents of this
Dao,” dated to the first of the three yearly assemblies in 255,
unseen bureaucracy resided even in the human body and so
gives us some idea of how the community fared under the
could not be deceived. They would be moved only by good
Wei kingdom. Delivered in the voice of Zhang Lu, who had
deeds or ritually presented petitions of contrition. In any
doubtless died by that time, the document warns the com-
event, they kept detailed records of each person’s merits and
munity of the impending fall of the dynasty and excoriates
them for lapses in practice. From this document, we learn
The Celestial Masters cured illness with confession and
that the system of parishes had fallen into disarray and that
the ingestion of talisman water. The ill were to confess their
a number of new texts, including the important Scripture of
transgressions in specially constructed “chambers of qui-
the Yellow Court were in circulation. The “Admonitions” fur-
etude” and to present the necessary written petitions to the
ther states that Zhang Lu himself, or at least the medium
offices of heaven, earth, and water. Three times a year—the
who now spoke in the voice of Zhang, authored the Scripture
seventh of the first month, the seventh of the seventh month,
of the Yellow Court, which presents detailed meditations on
and the fifth of the tenth month by the lunar calendar—
the gods of the body.
people were to assemble at their assigned parish. There, liba-
tioners would verify records of death and birth, and commu-
CENTURIES. We hear no more of the Celestial Masters until
nal meals would be held. On this occasion, members of the
the Jin dynasty’s (265–420) hold on northern China began
community were to present a good-faith offering of five
to weaken early in the fourth century. A group of ethnic Ba
pecks of rice. This gave rise to an alternate name for the com-
families, some two hundred thousand strong, returned to the
munity, the “Way of the Five Pecks of Rice” or, in less favor-
region of Chengdu where Li Te inaugurated the short-lived
able sources, “the rice bandits.” Beyond these faith-offerings,
theocracy known as the Cheng-Han (302–347). Other Ce-
the community was enjoined to perform acts of merit, such
lestial Master adherents came into the region around present-
as the building of roads or the provision of free food for trav-
day Nanjing when the Jin dynasty relocated there in 317.
The writings of Ge Hong (283–343), a member of an influ-
As Kristofer Schipper (1982) shows in detail, libationers
ential southern gentry family, provide detailed information
were also responsible for bestowing on the faithful registers
on the vibrant religious scene that the Celestial Masters en-
recording the number of transcendent “generals,” residents
of their own bodies, that they were empowered to summon
and control. Children of six years of age received a register
At a young age, Ge Hong formally received from his
with one general. By marriageable age, initiates could receive
tutor—a man who claimed that his lineage extended through
registers listing seventy-five generals, a number that they
Ge’s great-uncle—“Grand Purity” alchemical scriptures and
could double by performing the Celestial Master marriage
the Esoteric Writings of the Three Sovereigns. Throughout the
ritual. This ritual, known as “merging qi” included instruc-
remainder of his life, Ge collected as many such texts as he
tion in a precise method of intercourse that could replenish
could. Though his poverty prevented him from ever concoct-
the bodily forces of male and female participants, normally
ing an elixir himself, Ge Hong became an ardent proponent
deficient in yin and yang qi respectively, without the ex-
of practices of transcendence that extended back to the fang-
change of bodily fluids that led to reproduction. As the
shi of the Han. Two works bearing his name have survived.
Xiang’er commentary explains, the Dao wishes people to re-
The inner chapters of the eponymous Baopu zi (Master who
produce, but not to squander their vital energies. Later re-
embraces simplicity), known by Ge Hong’s style name, rep-
formers were to criticize and rectify this practice, which was
resent a spirited defense of the arts of transcendence and in-
considered “lascivious” by outsiders.
clude transcriptions of some of the methods Ge studied. Ge
ranks such practices, listing herbal recipes meant to prolong
By the end of the second century, Zhang’s grandson,
life as a distant second to the ingestion of the mineral and
Zhang Lu, then head of the community, took sanctuary in
metallic products of the alchemist’s furnace. The Traditions
the Hanzhong Valley, just north of the Sichuan basin and
of Divine Transcendents, which survives only in later redac-
over 200 kilometers southwest of the Han capital of
tions, provides vivid hagiographies of important transcen-
Chang’an (modern Xian). In 215 CE, Zhang Lu surrendered
dent figures, including Laozi and Zhang Daoling, who is
to Cao Cao, the Han general whose son was to inaugurate
here portrayed as a practitioner of alchemy.
the Wei dynasty (220–265) of the Three Kingdoms period.
As a result of this act of fealty, a large portion of the Celestial
While Ge Hong shows only a limited awareness of Ce-
Master community was relocated from Hanzhong to areas
lestial Master religion, as Robert Campany (2002) has
farther north, while many of its leaders were enfeoffed or
shown, his writings provide invaluable testimony to the ways
otherwise ennobled. While some followers doubtless re-
religious practitioners operated in the society of the time,
mained from the early period in Sichuan, the spread of Dao-
gaining reputations for their esoteric arts, seeking patronage,
ism throughout China as a whole begins with this diaspora
and initiating disciples. Further, Ge’s written works attest to
of the original Celestial Master community.
several scriptural traditions that were eventually to find their
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way into the Daoist canon. The most important of these are
refer simultaneously to, for instance, the placement of pal-
the two traditions into which Ge was initiated as a youth and
aces in the heavens and the arrangement of spirit-residences
the Five Talismans of Lingbao, a book of visualization practice
in the viscera. Yang frequently uses such devices as synesthet-
and herbal recipes. Indeed, it was through Ge’s own family,
ic metaphor to portray how apparent contradictions collapse
as well as families related to his by marriage, that Celestial
in the Dao. In addition, because Yang’s revelations described
Master Daoism was to be reshaped through an infusion of
spirit marriages with young female Perfected awaiting both
these southern traditions.
him and the Xus, one cannot discount the erotic component
of Yang’s productions. Yang’s unique style was immediately
Between the years 363 and 370, the Daoist Yang Xi
and widely imitated, both by writers of Daoist scripture and
(330–c. 386) was employed as a spiritual advisor by a gentry
by later secular writers.
family related to Ge’s through marriage. Yang’s patrons, who
had employed before him a Celestial Master libationer, were
Finally, the Shangqing texts were prized for their mes-
Xu Mi (303–373), a minor official at the imperial court, and
sage. The Shangqing texts do not represent a radical break
his son Hui (341–c. 370). From his meditation chamber,
with the past. All of the meditations and rituals found in
Yang brought to them enticing revelations from the unseen
them have analogues in earlier religious literature. A number
world. These concerned both the whereabouts in the under-
of scriptures contain improvements on earlier Celestial Mas-
world or heavens of the relatives and acquaintances of the
ter techniques, while one fragment proves to be a rewritten
Xus and their circle, as well as complete scriptures outlining
version of the Buddhist Su¯tra in Forty-two Sections. What is
new practices. Transmitted from person to person among
really new is the way in which the constituent parts are modi-
this privileged group, Yang’s Shangqing (Upper clarity or su-
fied to give preeminence to the guided meditations and visu-
preme purity) scriptures and revealed fragments of divine in-
alizations of the practitioner. The meditation practice of the
struction eventually came to be collected in the first of the
Shangqing scripture includes both visionary journeys into
tripartite divisions of the Daoist canon. Thereafter, the
the heavens and more direct ways of working with the body.
Shangqing scriptures, augmented by later revelations and ad-
ditions, became the center of one school of Daoist practice,
Visionary journeys have an ancient pedigree in Chinese
with its own patriarchs, priests, temples, and liturgies.
religion. In the Shangqing scriptures, the adept is instructed
to perform purifications and then to visualize his or her body
Several features distinguished the Shangqing scriptures
ascending to the sun, moon, stars, or up into the celestial
from the mass of scriptural material produced during this pe-
timekeeper, the northern dipper. There, the adept imbibes
riod. First of all, the texts emanated from the highest reaches
astral sustenance, the food of the gods, pays homage to the
of the heavens. The Transcendents (xian) of earlier scripture
gods, or exchanges documents with them. Practices aimed
occupy only lower positions in the celestial hierarchy. Above
at perfecting the body also typically involve visualization.
them are ranks of even more exalted and subtle beings, the
While there are quite a few references to drugs and elixirs in
Perfected (or “Authentic Ones,” zhenren), a term originating
the Shangqing texts, the tradition tended to transform more
in the Zhuangzi but here made part of a bureaucratic pan-
physical practices into meditative experience. Generally, the
theon of celestial deities. The Perfected, male and female, are
spirits that inhabit the body are energized through the inges-
clothed in resplendent garb, described in terms of mists and
tion of pure qi, enjoined not to leave, and merged with their
auroras. They are decked out with tinkling gems, symbols of
celestial counterparts. In some practices, the joining of bodily
their high office. Their bodies are formed of the purest qi and
gods with those of the macrocosm functions as an interioriza-
glow with a celestial radiance as they move about the heavens
tion of the Celestial Master sexual practice known as “merg-
in chariots of light. The texts such beings brought were like-
ing qi.” Other techniques teach ways of reenacting the pro-
wise exalted in that they described the practices the Perfected
cess of gestation using the qi of the nine heavens to create
themselves employed to subtilize their bodies. In fact, one
an immortal body.
form the Shangqing scriptures take is that of a biography of
one or another of the Perfected, replete with descriptions of
After the death of Yang and the Xus, the fragments of
the practices associated with that deity.
personal revelation and the scriptures Yang had received
from the Perfected were scattered. The preservation of such
Secondly, the Shangqing scriptures clearly earned their
a significant portion of Yang’s writings is due to the efforts
eventual popularity in large part through the compelling way
of Tao Hongjing (456–536), perhaps the foremost scholar
in which they are written. Yang Xi must be counted among
of early Daoism. Tao collected the more personal revelations
the major innovators in the history of Chinese letters. The
that Yang Xi wrote for the Xus in his Zheng’ao (Declarations
language of his texts—both poetry and prose—is abstruse,
of the Perfected), an extremely diverse work that includes re-
dense, and obscurely allusive. It seems to exemplify as much
cords of the Perfected mates promised to Yang Xi and Xu
as express the mysterious qualities of the spirit world to
Mi, injunctions to Xu Mi and Xu Hui concerning the details
which he had been granted privileged access as the result of
of their practice, letters between them, accounts of the un-
his strivings. The macrocosm-microcosm identity familiar
derworld topography of Mount Mao, and even records of
from other Daoist texts becomes for Yang license for a mul-
dreams. As this work cites a number of scriptures, it has prov-
tivalence of signification whereby literally whole passages
en invaluable to scholars’ attempts to reconstruct Daoist his-
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tory. In addition, Tao Hongjing edited a number of the
pages are the original, authentic pronouncements of the Ce-
scriptures that he was able to acquire and preserved annotat-
lestial Worthy from prior kalpas. As a result, the Lingbao
ed passages from them in his Dengzhen yinjue (Secret instruc-
scriptures give what amounts to the earliest attempt to grade
tions on the ascent to perfection), which survives only in
religious practices, an emphasis that led Lu Xiujing (406–
477), the Daoist who first catalogued the Lingbao scriptures,
to also make a listing of all Daoist texts, entitled the Catalog
At the very beginning of the fifth century, another
of the Three Caverns. Lu’s catalog originally comprised
southern corpus of scriptures began to emerge, attesting to
1,228 juan (scrolls) of texts, of which 138 had not yet been
yet another attempt to reform Daoist practice. These scrip-
revealed on earth. The texts were divided into three “caverns”
tures, collectively known as Lingbao (Numinous gem), repre-
or “comprehensive collections”: Dongzhen (comprehending
sent at once a return to the communal practices of the Celes-
tial Masters and a renewed attempt to make Daoism the
perfection, containing Shangqing texts), Dongxuan (compre-
common religion. The Lingbao scriptures drew upon the re-
hending the mysterious, containing Lingbao texts), and
ligious traditions of the day (fangshi practice, Han-period
Dongshen (comprehending the spirits, containing early
apocrypha, southern practices known to Ge Hong such as
southern scriptures). All subsequent Daoist canons were or-
those found in the Lingbao wufu jing itself, Celestial Master
ganized into these “three caverns.” Three deities, each re-
Daoism, Shangqing Daoism, and Buddhism), sometimes
garded as a transformation of the former, were designated the
copying entire sections of text and presenting them so as to
ultimate sources of these three collections of texts. These
accord with its central doctrines in order to fashion a new,
were: (1) for Dongzhen, the Lord of Celestial Treasure, resid-
universal religion for a unified China. While Lingbao propo-
ing in the Heaven of Jade Clarity; (2) for Dongxuan, the
nents failed in this attempt—the emperor upon whom they
Lord of Numinous Treasure, residing in the Heaven of
based their hopes, Song Wudi (r. 420–422) failed to reunify
Upper Clarity; and (3) for Dongshen, the Lord of Spiritual
the kingdom, and monks expert in the texts they plagiarized,
Treasure, residing in the Heaven of Grand Clarity. With
Buddhist and Daoist alike, denounced their productions as
some modifications, this trinity, also known as the “three
forgeries—the Lingbao texts they produced did lead to a new
pure ones,” continued to be central to later Daoist ritual tra-
Daoist unity.
While Lingbao descriptions of the spiritual cosmogra-
In the north of China, reform of the Celestial Masters’
phy of the human body differ little from those of the
practice took a different turn. In 415 and again in 423, Kou
Shangqing scriptures, their soteriology are very different.
Qianzhi (365–448), a Celestial Masters’ priest, received from
The Lingbao texts describe an elaborate cosmic bureaucracy
the deified Laozi revelations containing codes explicitly
that has survived the destruction of the cosmos through
meant to reform aberrant practice and lead to a more tightly
countless kalpas, or “world-ages,” a concept adapted from
organized ecclesia. With the help of a high official, he pre-
Buddhism. At the apex of the pantheon is the Celestial Wor-
sented these to the throne of the Toba (a Turkish people)
thy of Primordial Commencement, a deity who plays some-
Wei dynasty (386–534). Because the foreign rulers in the
what the same role in the Lingbao scriptures as the cosmic
north of China were interested in controlling religions that
Buddha in Buddhist scriptures. By joining with the enduring
might disguise rebellion, the Toba emperor agreed to make
Dao through keeping its precepts and conducting rituals for
Kou’s new dispensation the official religion of the kingdom.
the salvation of others, adherents hope to ensure for them-
The demand for orthodoxy increased to the extent that the
selves either a favorable rebirth “as a prince or marquis” or
emperor was eventually urged to proscribe Buddhism. The
immediate promotion into the celestial bureaucracy. The
Daoist theocracy barely outlived Kou.
hymns and liturgies of the scriptures reenact and prepare
Subsequent northern emperors continued to harbor sus-
practitioners for this latter, final destination. This was the
picions of unregulated religious practice, however, leading to
first instance in which a version of the Buddhist concept of
a series of court debates between Buddhists and Daoists and
rebirth was fully integrated into Daoist doctrine. Significant-
concomitant attempts to abolish one religion or the other.
ly, Daoists, holding that their religion valued life while Bud-
The best documented of these occurred during the reign of
dhism valued death, did not forward nirva¯n:a (cessation) as
Yuwen Yong, Emperor Wu of the Zhou dynasty (r. 560–
a religious goal. Because later Daoist ritual practice was based
578). Harboring the ambition to reunify China, Emperor
on these early Lingbao texts, this explanation of rebirth was
Wu, who had himself received initiation into Daoist scrip-
to become an enduring feature of the religion.
tures, held several debates between Buddhists and Daoists to
The moral component of the Lingbao scriptures—a
determine which of their doctrines would best complement
mixture of traditional Chinese morality and Buddhist salva-
the Confucian state orthodoxy. Daoist apologists argued, ap-
tional ethics—is much more prominent than that found in
parently with some success, that their practice extended back
earlier texts. There is also a pronounced proselytizing empha-
into the prehistorical golden age of the Central Kingdom,
sis. The texts argue that contemporary Daoist and Buddhist
while the Buddhist religion was a recent foreign import. But
practices are but variant paths that lead to the same goal and
the debates were still inconclusive and the emperor charged
that the rewritten versions of some practices found in their
one of his officials, Zhen Luan, to compose a treatise com-
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paring the two religions. When Zhen produced the “Treatise
Laozi’s text, the Dao de jing, into the state exam system, even
Deriding the Dao,” which debunked the claim of antiquity
composing an imperial commentary to the text. The favor
of Daoist scriptures and undermined the hope for a unifying
he bestowed on the religion was matched by imperial over-
ideology, the emperor ordered it burned and commissioned
sight. He instituted the office of commissioner for Daoist rit-
the scholarly monk Dao’an to write a new treatise, “Treatise
ual to control at the national level the ordination and regis-
on the Two Teachings.” Both works survive in the Buddhist
tration of the priesthood. Similar oversight was accorded
canon, providing scholars with opposition views regarding
Buddhist institutions.
the Daoist practice of the day. Daoist apologists, on the other
hand, preserved no similarly detailed documentation of the
It was during the second half of Xuanzong’s reign that
his enthusiasm for the religion came most fully to the fore.
The watershed events were the appearance of the divine an-
As would happen again and again throughout Chinese
cestor to the emperor in dreams and the discovery of a talis-
history, Emperor Wu’s attempts at central control of religion
man, the whereabouts of which was also revealed by Laozi.
were neither effective nor long lasting. In 574, he ordered
As a result of this latter discovery, the emperor changed the
that Buddhist and Daoist monks return to lay life and confis-
reign-name to “Celestial Treasure.” He distributed images of
cated temple holdings. Later in the same year, he established
Laozi, fashioned after his dream vision, throughout the em-
a central Daoist temple, the Tongdao guan (Observatory for
pire, granted grand titles to the sage, and established official
Comprehending the Dao) and commissioned the composi-
institutes for Daoist study in each prefecture of the realm.
tion of an encyclopedic collection of Daoist writings, the
As Timothy Barrett (1996) shows, graduates of these insti-
Wushang biyao (Secret essentials of the most high). While the
tutes could take part in the newly inaugurated Daoist exami-
proscriptions did not endure beyond Emperor Wu’s death
nation in the capital and enter the civil service, the first time
in 578, the controversies continued as subsequent emperors
religious examinations had ever been used for this purpose.
attempted to co-opt the prestige of Buddhism and Daoism
Meanwhile officials reported apparitions of Laozi and other
to bolster their dynastic designs. Within Daoism, the Wu-
signs of divine approbation with great frequency. Even
shang biyao did have the effect of providing its contents with
Xuanzong’s flight from the capital as a result of the An Lu-
the stamp of orthodoxy, though at some point the more egre-
shan rebellion and his removal from power are not without
gious passages claiming that Buddhist doctrine and practice
legends of Laozi’s continued support of the emperor.
originated with Daoism were expunged from the collection.
Due in part to this imperial favor, the Tang dynasty
DAOISM UNDER THE TANG (618–907). The rulers of the
marked a rapid expansion of Daoist belief and practice into
short-lived Sui dynasty (581–618), which did manage to
the gentry class, with a concomitant growth in Daoist schol-
unify China, favored Buddhism to lend cosmological author-
arship. A number of encyclopedias, annotations, and local
ity to their state orthodoxy. But millennial expectations,
histories survive from the period. In response to the subtleties
drawn from both Buddhism and Daoism, arose in force
of Buddhist philosophy, Daoist scholars evolved a number
again to contribute to the downfall of the dynasty. Foremost
of philosophical approaches to Daoism, from meditations on
among these expectations was the idea, derived from early
the self and nurturing life to analyses of the processes by
Daoism and given prominence in the Shangqing scriptures,
which one might join with the Dao. Distinctive styles of
that the “Perfect Lord” Li Hong would soon descend to
music, art, and dance were also developed. With the regular-
sweep away the unjust and establish a rule of great peace.
ization of Daoist monasticism, we learn more about women
Among those who took on the mantle of the Perfect Lord
who entered Daoist orders, some clearly attracted by the
was Li Yuan, founder of the Tang dynasty. Further, he
prospect of gaining more control over their lives. A few
claimed descent from Laozi, whose given name was said to
gained kingdom-wide reputations for their piety. Once such
have been Li Er. Given this, Tang emperors tended thereafter
was Huang Lingwei (c. 640–721), who after a long period
to favor the Daoist religion.
of training restored and occupied the shrine of the Shang-
qing goddess Wei Huacun. Her reconstruction of the site
As a result, the Tang period marked a time of consolida-
was aided at each step by divine visions and dreams. The
tion and expansion for the Daoist tradition. Even Wu Zhao
number of poems presented to her by famous figures and the
(r. 684–705), who proclaimed herself “emperor” and re-
laudatory biography written after her death by the official
named the dynasty Zhou, while giving secondary status to
and calligrapher Yan Zhenqing (709–784) attest to her fame.
the religion that had lent support to those she sought to re-
place, took recourse to Daoist symbolism, ritual, and prestige
The practice of alchemy also came into prominence
to establish her rule. The most fervent imperial supporter of
during the Tang. As in other areas of Daoist scholasticism,
Daoism was Li Longji (the Xuanzong Emperor, r. 712–756).
ancient texts were collected and compared. One representa-
The emperor’s personal involvement with the cult of the dy-
tive work is the Essential Instructions from the Scriptures on
nastic ancestor built up slowly over the course of his long
the Elixirs of Great Clarity (Sivin, 1968) by the physician and
reign. At first he sponsored rituals for the welfare of the state,
pharmacologist Sun Simiao (581–682). While the exact ex-
employing prominent priests such as Sima Chengzhen (647–
tent of elixir ingestion is unknown, a number of literati men-
735) to help revise state ritual and music. He also introduced
tion the practice in their writings. In addition, Tang emper-
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ors patronized masters of alchemy and several of the later
These disparate features of the religion endure to the
emperors may have died as a result of such experimentation.
present day. In many ways, then, scholars tend to see the
Meanwhile, the use of alchemical experimentation as a
Song period as the beginning of modern Daoism. The most
means to observe the workings of the cosmos led to the grad-
thoroughly studied example of a local therapeutic and exor-
ual creation of “inner alchemy,” a term that refers to various
cistic tradition that rose to national prominence, and eventu-
methods for merging “cinnabar” and “lead” within the body
ally received court recognition, is the Rectifying Rites of
to create the immortal embryo without actual ingestion of
Tianxin (the center of heaven, that is, the northern dipper).
mineral or metallic substances. As Fabrizio Pregadio (2000)
While serving the fourth ruler of the state of Min (present-
has shown, this trend began during the late Six Dynasties pe-
day Fuzhou) during the years 935 to 939, a Daoist priest by
riod (220–589 CE) with the Zhouyi cantong qi (Token of the
the name of Tan Zixiao was asked to interpret a set of talis-
concordance of the three, based on the Book of Changes), a
mans that had come to light. These, he pronounced, were
work that shows operative alchemy to be a replication of cos-
part of a secret patrimony, the Rectifying Rites of Tianxin,
mic processes as defined by the symbol systems of the ancient
passed down from Zhang Daoling. The talismans, as they de-
fortune-telling manual, the Book of Changes. Widely studied
veloped in the tradition, were held to embody the power of
during the Tang, this work, together with the dangers of elix-
the celestial emperor of the north, of the Department of Ex-
ir ingestion, led to the eclipse of operative alchemy.
orcisms, and his agents, the fearsome generals Tianpeng, He-
isha, and Zhenwu, among others. Daoist priests visualized
Later Daoists were to look back on the Tang as a golden
Tianpeng in Tantric form and the latter two with disheveled
age, and often traced their own lineages to real or mythologi-
hair, bulging eyes, brandished weapons, and martial dress.
cal Tang figures. A more balanced picture of the religion ap-
And thus they are depicted in Daoist statuary and painting.
pears in the works of Du Guangting (850–933), the fore-
The rites of Tianxin were passed from master to master, fi-
most Daoist priest of the Shu kingdom (in present-day
nally coming to the Daoist Deng Yougong, who between
Sichuan). Writing as the Tang dynasty lay in ruins, Du’s col-
1075 and 1100 wrote ritual manuals that were eventually in-
lections of hagiographies, miracle tales, inscriptions, and rit-
cluded in the imperially sponsored Song Daoist canon of
ual summaries attest to aspects of the religion that are given
1120, the first ever to be printed.
short shrift or lacking in earlier sources (Verellen, 1989).
Here we learn of the importance of Daoist practice at the
Another ritual tradition was founded by Lu Shizhong
local level, the veneration of holy women, and the impor-
(fl. 1100–1158), a native of Chenzhou (modern Henan)
tance of lay benefactors for the maintenance of temples and
who received visits from the deified Zhao Sheng, who had
been a disciple of the first Celestial Master. Lu’s manuals,
known as the Rites of the Jade Hall, blend the Rites of Tian-
xin with Lingbao funeral rites and show an increased empha-
1368). In gauging the development of Daoism during the
sis on meditation practice. Characteristic of these and other
Song and Yuan dynasties, we must avoid the “documentary
therapeutic rituals of the early Song was the practice of
fallacy.” More than half of the texts found in our primary
kaozhao, “summoning for investigation.” In kaozhao ritual,
source for the study of the religion, the Ming canon printed
the master transforms himself into a martial deity, identifies
in 1445, were compiled after the mid-twelfth century. This
the demon causing problems, seizes it, and causes it to de-
dramatic increase in documentation, in part the result of the
scend into the troubled person or a surrogate where it might
invention of printing and consequent spread of literacy, pro-
be interrogated and the problem resolved (Davis, 2001).
vides evidence, unavailable from earlier times, on how the re-
Such practices could only arise once illness was no longer
ligion operated at all strata of society. This has sometimes led
linked to morality, as it had been in earlier Daoist traditions.
scholars to underestimate the penetration of Daoism into
lower levels of society in earlier periods and to overstate the
Early Song rulers, who like the Tang rulers before them
spread of the religion during the Song and Yuan. Even ac-
traced their ancestry to a Daoist deity, here the Yellow Em-
counting for this distorting factor, however, it does appear
peror, had recourse to the protection offered by demon-
that social changes—especially the rise in mercantilism, in-
quelling ritual. Threatened by peoples to their north, they
creased literacy, and the relaxation of governmental con-
found special protection from the celestial general Heisha,
trol—led to new forms of organization, an increase in the
whom they ennobled with the title “the Perfected Lord who
number of literate priests, heightened religious competition,
Supports the Sage [ruler] and Protects [his] Virtue.” They
and a consequent burgeoning of pantheons and practices. In-
also ordered the construction in the capital Kaifeng of a mas-
creasingly, localities, regional associations of various kinds,
sive temple complex dedicated to Zhenwu, the Perfected
and minority communities came to adopt Daoist deities and
Warrior. In addition, rulers patronized ritual specialists, built
practices. At the same time, scholarly Daoists composed vast
temples throughout the realm and sponsored the collection
ritual compendia, consolidating and formalizing practice.
and printing of Daoist texts. The Yunji qiqian (Seven slips
And, again under foreign rule in the north of China, another
from the book bags of the clouds), a 120-chapter collection
counter-trend emerged. This was Quanzhen Daoism, a well-
of Daoist texts extracted from the canon of 1120, survives
organized and highly centralized monastic movement.
from this period.
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The imperial support of Daoism culminated in the brief
Wang’s most famous disciple, Qiu Changchun (1148–
theocratic reign of Huizong (r. 1101–1125), who called to
1227), was summoned to the Jin court in the 1180s and,
court Daoists from the major ordination centers. In addition
in 1220, to the itinerant court of Chinggis Khan (r. 1206–
to confirming the prestige of old Daoist lineages—
1227), who hoped to obtain the drug of immortality from
Shangqing was represented by its putative twenty-fifth patri-
him. Although Qiu allowed that he knew only hygienic tech-
arch and the Celestial Masters, now centered at Mount
niques for prolonging life, he made a favorable impression
Longhu (in modern Jiangxi), by their thirtieth—several new
on the khan, who bestowed special privileges on the Quan-
lineages were also created in response. Lin Lingsu (1076–
zhen order, including authority over the religious in his
1120) arrived in the capital with revelations he had received
realm. Quanzhen Daoism grew explosively during the Yuan
from Shenxiao (Divine empyrean), the highest reaches of
dynasty, despite prescriptions of the order ordered by Kublai
heaven. Lin revealed the divine identity of Huizong as the
Khan (r. 1260–1294) in retribution when his armada sent
deity “Great Thearch of Long Life” and promulgated a set
against Japan was destroyed by a typhoon in 1281. Accord-
of rituals based on earlier Shangqing and Lingbao texts. Yang
ing to the estimates of Vincent Goossaert (2001), by 1300
Xizhen (1101–1124) claimed to have emerged from the cav-
there were some four thousand Quanzhen temples in north-
erns hidden in Mount Mao, the ancient center of Shangqing
ern China, housing an estimated twenty thousand clerics,
practice, with a set of therapeutic rituals that had been be-
around one-third of whom were women.
stowed upon him in this underworld study center. These
As an order, Quanzhen was devoted to both communal
were called the “Rites of Youthful Incipience.” Huizong’s en-
discipline and self-cultivation. Priests and nuns took vows of
thusiasm for these Daoist traditions went to such extremes
celibacy and left the home to live communally in one of the
that he commanded that all Buddhists of the realm be de-
many temples. There, submitting to monastic discipline,
moted to Daoists of the second rank. This and other excesses
they would work to cultivate lack of attachment, purity of
incited further disputes between Buddhists and Daoists. But
mind, and immortality through the practice of inner alche-
Huizong’s reign was short and in 1127 the court moved
my. As they often took up residence in the temples of local
south to evade the Jurchen Jin dynasty (1115–1234).
cults or other orders, the rituals conducted by Quanzhen
clerics derived from all the major traditions of Daoism.
During the southern Song, the most noteworthy devel-
Sometimes their eclecticism led them into difficulties, as
opments involved the codification of innovations begun in
when Quanzhen clerics championed a later version of the
the north. Lin Lingsu had presented his Shenxiao tradition
Huahu jing, the scripture that held that Laozi was the Bud-
as an extension of the ancient Lingbao canon and the culmi-
dha, before the Yuan emperors in a series of debates with
nation of Shangqing revelation. In line with these claims, he
Buddhists. In a final debate before Kublai Khan in 1281, the
had presented to the throne a sixty-one-chapter version of
enraged emperor ruled against them and, as we have seen,
the originally one-chapter Lingbao Scripture of Salvation.
eventually suppressed the order. In mature form, Quanzhen
This important text formed the basis for another ritual tradi-
doctrine was less doctrinaire, drawing from the quietist as-
tion, the Lingbao dafa (Great Rites of Lingbao). While there
pects of Confucianism and Ch’an (Jpn., Zen) Buddhism and
were regional variations, the centerpiece of this tradition was
revering both the Buddhist Heart Su¯tra and the Confucian
the rite of liandu (roughly, “salvation by fiery smelting”).
Classic of Filial Piety.
Through an extremely elaborate external ritual—involving
The remarkable spread of Quanzhen during the Yuan
chants, pacing, and the use of talismans—and an equally
period can be attributed to several factors. First, clerics tend-
complex internal ritual through which the bodily spirits of
ed to travel widely, spreading the doctrine. Second, Quan-
the master descended into the hells, the rite aimed to purify
zhen adepts, more than those of other contemporary reli-
and rescue the dead.
gious groups, tended to use literary works—dialogic treatises,
Under the Jin in northern China, several new traditions
poetic accounts of practice, public inscriptions, organization-
appeared. The most important and enduring of these was the
al histories, and the like—as proselytizing tools. Third,
Quanzhen (“Perfect Realization” or “Completion of Authen-
Quanzhen adepts easily assimilated themselves to existing re-
ticity”). The movement was inaugurated by the ascetic and
ligious establishments, reinterpreting the texts of their rivals
visionary Wang Zhe (1113–1170), also known as Wang
and even occupying their temples.
Chongyang. After achieving enlightenment in 1167, Wang
DAOISM IN THE MING (1368–1644) AND QING (1644–
wandered the Shandong peninsula, converting followers and
1911). Scholars have only recently begun to turn their atten-
founding associations for the promulgation of his doctrine.
tion to post-Yuan developments in the Daoist traditions
Wang gathered around him a coterie of favored disciples, all
traced above. One difficulty derives from the often-strained
highly literate men among whom Ma Danyang (1123–1184)
relationship between Daoist practitioners and the throne. In-
was his designated heir. The later tradition settled on a list
creasingly stringent controls placed on Daoist institutions
of qi zhen (Seven Perfected or “Authentic Ones”) as the fore-
and practitioners during the Ming and Qing attest to the
most disciples. This list included Sun Bu’er (1119–1183),
continued vitality of the religion. At the same time, tight im-
Ma’s wife, thus signaling the vital role female clerics had
perial oversight tended to erase from the public record much
come to play in the movement.
that we would like to know.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

The first Ming ruler, Taizu (r. 1368–1399), attempted
being and nonbeing. The group spread throughout south-
to manage Daoism by establishing various agencies govern-
eastern China and endured for about 150 years after Lin’s
ing the religion, regulating the number of monks and nuns
who could be ordained, and mandating the maximum age
Another result of Ming attempts at religious control was
at which they could do so. Taizu favored the Zhengyi order,
the strengthening of lay associations, both trade guilds and
but tolerated the Quanzhen movement. Clerics of many ritu-
those local groups organized for the purpose of sponsoring
al traditions thus began to take refuge in these two orders,
a temple or religious site. One prominent example is the fa-
a situation that continues. It is clear, however, that Taizu’s
mous Yongle Gong (Palace of Eternal Joy), a temple dedicat-
restrictions, though continued by subsequent emperors, only
ed to Lü Dongbin first occupied by Quanzhen adepts in the
superficially limited the numbers or activities of Daoists.
1240s that had, by the mid-Ming, fallen into disrepair. Be-
Chengzu (r. 1402–1425), also known by his reign-title
ginning in 1614, local leaders organized subscription cam-
as the Yongle Emperor, provided more protection for Dao-
paigns for the repair and ritual use of the temple. To the ef-
ism. He ordered the compilation of a new canon (completed
forts of such associations we owe the remarkable preservation
after his death) and designated Zhenwu, the Perfect Warrior,
of fourteenth-century murals depicting scenes from the life
the dynastic protector. Claiming that Zhenwu had aided him
of Lü Dongbin, perhaps drawn from popular Yuan plans,
in unifying the realm, the emperor set up a sanctuary for this
and depictions of Daoist divinities used in ritual (Katz,
deity in Beijing’s forbidden city when he took residence there
1999). The support of temple associations is also responsible
in 1421. He also provided support for the god’s cult center
for the incorporation into Daoism of popular deities such as
on Mount Wudang in Hubei. For similar reasons, Chengzu
Ma Zu, goddess of merchants and fishermen.
supported other deities, including the popular “god of war,”
Another sign of popularization was the printing and dis-
Guandi, one of a list of popular deities who were adopted
tribution of Daoist tales. Among these, one of the most com-
into the Daoist pantheon.
pletely studied concerns the mysterious figure Zhang San-
Subsequent Ming emperors continued the dual policy
feng. Pierre-Henry de Bruyn (2000) relates the origins of this
of support and control begun by the first rulers of the dynas-
figure: When Chengzu (r. 1402–1424) usurped the throne
ty. Despite official patronage for some, there seem to have
by having his nephew murdered, he still entertained doubts
been few doctrinal developments during this period. The
that the burnt corpse presented to him was in fact his neph-
main trend seems to have been one of amalgamation of di-
ew. He consequently sent secret police throughout the realm
verse practices into a single way, something that pleased rul-
on the pretext of seeking the immortal “Zhang Sanfeng,” but
ers as evidence of unity. One important tradition that pro-
actually to seek for his nephew. As a result of this apparent
vided a foundation for this search for unity was the tradition
imperial interest, all sorts of legends began to circulate con-
of inner alchemy. Zhao Yizhen (d. 1382), a master trained
cerning this figure. These were duly published and circulated
in Quanzhen and Qingwei ritual, proposed a strict course of
by the faithful, and a cult arose.
self-examination through the use of “ledgers of merit and de-
The same trends—strict imperial control, standardiza-
merit,” a widespread practice at the time. Such self-criticism,
tion of Daoist traditions under the aegis of Zhengyi and
he held, could bring human emotions into harmony with
Quanzhen, and growing lay involvement—intensified dur-
reason, dispel illusion—whether that of demons, spirits, or
ing the Qing dynasty. The Manchu rulers of the Qing vener-
bodhisattvas—and prepare the way for proper absorption of
ated Tibetan Buddhism and promoted neo-Confucian doc-
cosmic essences through meditation. Zhang Yuchu (1361–
trine as state orthodoxy, even to the extent of promulgating
1410), the forty-third Celestial Master of the Zhengyi tradi-
its tenets among the populace through imperial “sacred
tion, carried on Zhao’s understandings of inner alchemical
edicts.” The Confucian elite, feeling that excessive emphasis
practice, explicitly incorporating into his system the insights
on personal cultivation had led to the collapse of the Ming,
of Chan Buddhism on inner nature.
tended to support the state orthodoxy. As a result, officially
sanctioned “three teachings” movements during the Qing
An even more syncretic teaching was propounded by
tended to exist for the purpose of spreading Confucian mo-
Lin Zhao’en (1517–1598), scion of an official family from
rality. An unintended consequence of this imperial initiative
Fujian who studied with various Daoist masters and eventu-
was an upsurge in lay associations and sectarian movements
ally styled himself “Master of the Three Teachings.” His
organized under the pretext of spreading morality. Shanshu
group became the “Three in One Teaching,” merging in-
(Morality books) promoting Confucian ethics based on Bud-
sights from Confucianism as the principle doctrine, with
dhist notions of karma and Daoist concepts of longevity and
Daoism and Buddhism. Lin taught a method of inner culti-
of the bureaucratic organization of the unseen worlds had
vation in nine stages, culminating in “breaking through the
circulated since the Song dynasty but now were produced in
void,” a final step of inner alchemical practice for forming
even greater numbers.
the internal embryo. To this stage of ultimate attainment,
Lin assimilated the “perfect sincerity” of neo-Confucian un-
Beginning in the Ming, sectarian movements published
derstanding of the Doctrine of the Mean and the Buddhist
similar works, known as baojuan (precious volumes) of a
concept of moving beyond illusion into the ground between
more striking religious character. A number of these were
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

produced by “spirit writing,” a type of revelation whereby
DAOISM IN JAPAN. There is no clear evidence of the trans-
spirits of gods, Transcendents, or even cultural heroes were
mission of organized Daoism to Japan. No records of Daoist
believed to compose texts by taking control of a writing im-
investiture or even the presence of Daoist priests have yet
plement. The most common means, still in use today, in-
been detected. A number of scholars have cited references to
volved two mediums wielding a double-handled planchette
immortality seeking, alchemy, and other practices and words
that would inscribe the deity’s words, graph by graph, in a
associated with Daoism in texts from the seventh century CE
shallow box filled with sand. This message would then be
forward. For example, the Nihonshoki (Chronicle of Japan),
“transcribed” by several observers. Texts produced in this
under entries for the years 456 to 479, mentions several
way began to appear as early as the Song dynasty (Kleeman
mountaintop establishments it styles do¯kan (Daoist temples),
1994), but the popularity of such works seems to have in-
but it is uncertain what sort of establishment might have
creased radically during the Ming.
been meant. Most Japanese scholars, then, agree with the
One of the most widespread of the sectarian move-
1933 findings of Tsukami Jikiryo¯ that “Daoist ideas trans-
ments, named by Susan Naquin (1985) “White Lotus Sec-
mitted to Japan in ancient and Heian (794–1185) times
tarianism,” centered on the Maitreya-like goddess, the Eter-
came first under the umbrella of esoteric Buddhism and yin-
nal Venerable Mother, who, it was believed, would reappear
yang divination, and then spread to the wider populace”
to eradicate evil and create a new heaven and earth. These
(cited in Masuo, 2000, p. 824). A number of the practices
movements, only loosely organized, were a threat both to the
scholars point to in support of this assertion, however, are
Buddhist and Daoist establishments and to the government.
best considered part of Chinese common religion, rather
Imperial attempts at suppression only succeeded in spurring
than specifically Daoist.
millenarian movements.
One example is the practices associated with the geng-
While Qing rulers gave precedence to the Zhengyi order
shen (Jpn., ko¯shin) day, the fifty-seventh day of the sexagesi-
in state ritual, they also appreciated the organizational
mal cycle of days according to the Chinese calendar. Accord-
strengths of Quanzhen, with its strict rules for clerics. Over
ing to texts as early as the Baopuzi, the human body played
the course of the dynasty, the Longmen branch of Quanzhen
host to three worms or “corpses” that sought the death of
rose to domination. The Longmen branch traces its found-
their host and would, on the night of this day, ascend to
ing back to Qiu Chuji of the Song, but, as Monica Esposito
heaven to report on his or her transgressions. Since these evil-
(2000) has shown, it actually originated during the Ming
minded residents might depart the body only during sleep,
among southern Daoist movements. The importance of the
one method to frustrate them included an all-night vigil.
Longmen branch can with assurance be traced to Wang
While Daoist texts taught that abstention from meat, sexual
Changyue (d. 1680), who from 1656 until his death served
abstention, and purification procedures were also necessary,
as abbot of the Baiyun guan (White Cloud Abbey) in Beij-
the vigil in Japan (as sometimes in China) became the occa-
ing. Wang reorganized Quanzhen precepts to include neo-
sion for an all-night party.
Confucian rules for living that were favored by Qing rulers.
He divided the precepts into three ascending stages: (1) ini-
Introduced in the mid-ninth century, ko¯shin practice
tial precepts of perfection; (2) intermediate precepts; and (3)
was modified in the eleventh century by Tendai monks, who
precepts of celestial transcendence. He also held that anyone
added further Daoist and Buddhist elements from a variety
could gain immortality through their careful cultivation.
of scriptural sources. During the Edo period (1603–1687),
Under Wang’s direction, Baiyun guan became a central
esoteric monks and yamabushi began delivering morality lec-
training center for all Daoist traditions, formally granting the
tures on the practice throughout the country and a number
precepts to male and female clerics from all over the kingdom
of ko¯shin halls were established to accommodate those hold-
as part of their official investiture. This, in itself, was crucial
ing vigils. Thriving ko¯shin halls still exist in Osaka and Nara.
to the spread of Longmen branch teachings.
Although specific practices for ridding the body of the three
worms found a place in Daoism, the belief in the three
As Wang Changyue’s example shows, while Quanzhen
worms was not confined to Daoism, as its presence in Bud-
and other Daoist organizations continued to discourse on
dhist texts composed in China attests.
and practice the inner alchemy of earlier days, there was an
increased emphasis on universalism. Simplified descriptions
Other practices associated with Daoism—methods of
of the discipline were promulgated not only by Daoists, but
appeasing the celestial bureaucracy, the use of apotropaic tal-
by sectarian groups and lay organizations, and even in popu-
ismans and spells, even the ritual “pace of Yu” (a magical gait
lar plays and novels. Schools of martial arts and physical cul-
held to avert evil originating in ancient Chinese occult tradi-
tivation adopted some inner alchemical learning to their own
tions and adapted into Daoism)—can be found in similar
purposes, leading to the widespread practice of qigong
form, mixed with Chinese common religion and Buddhism.
(roughly, “breath achievement”) in modern times. While
One group that seems to have been particularly receptive to
many qigong schools have their own origin myths, a more
Daoist practice was the yamabushi practitioners of Shugendo¯
scholarly account of their origins is that, while some of their
(roughly “way of practice for inciting auspicious response”).
practices are quite ancient, they in fact grew from the intel-
According to legend, Shugendo¯ began in the seventh centu-
lectual and social conditions of Ming and Qing times.
ry, but was certainly widespread by the end of the Heian pe-
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

riod. The practice of yamabushi, who undergo austerities in
chemy continued in the form of private danhak pai (schools
the mountains to gain spiritual powers, includes healing, the
of alchemical studies), which developed in distinctive ways
dispelling of misfortune, a version of the pace of Yu, and the
and began to claim transmissions from shadowy ancient fig-
use of spells and talismans. While some of these can be traced
ures of Korean history.
to Daoist works, the precise vectors of transmission are un-
The “new religions” that developed in Korea in the
known. In addition, the twelfth-century Shinto¯ schools of Ise
nineteenth century drew extensively on Daoist scriptures and
and Yoshida developed a view of spirits (Jpn., kami) divided
practices. The Donghak (Eastern Doctrine), established in
according to function and sometimes associated with the
1860 by Choi Jaewu (1824–1864) and others, includes sacri-
northern dipper and other asterisms that made specific use
fices to Daoist gods, the use of talismans, and the practice
of Daoist works.
of visionary journeys to the celestial realms.
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a number
of Daoist practices, including those associated with Quan-
DAOISM TODAY. The official body governing Daoist practice
zhen Daoism, arrived in Japan as a result of the popularity
in modern China is the Chinese Daoist Association, formed
of neo-Confucianism. Morality books were another source
in 1956 and officially approved by the Ministry of Internal
of knowledge of Daoist deities, such as the martial god
Affairs on May 20, 1957. Operating from the White Cloud
Guandi, and of practices meant to satisfy the moral oversight
Temple in Beijing, the organization coordinates Daoist prac-
of the celestial bureaucracy. In line with the flexible nature
tice and controls the initiation of priests and nuns. At first,
of Daoist belief, such foreign elements were easily modified
the association, following Qing precedent, recognized only
to conform with Japanese society.
Zhengyi (Celestial Master) and Quanzhen traditions. Dur-
ing the government-sponsored mass movements of the
DAOISM IN KOREA. Unlike the case of Japan, there are re-
1960s and 1970s, all Daoist holdings were returned to state
cords of the formal transmission of Daoism into the Korean
control. Following the Cultural Revolution, and particularly
peninsula. In the early seventh century, Tang emperors, who
from 1979 forward, governmental control of religious prac-
traced their lineage to Laozi, sent priests on at least two occa-
tice has relaxed considerably and researchers report a resur-
sions to teach Daoist ritual in the court of the king of
gence of Daoist practice throughout the country. This has
Koguryo˘ (37 BCE–668 CE). During the late Tang, monks of
been matched by an exuberant growth of scholarship on all
the unified Silla (668–935) are recorded as having visited the
aspects of the religion.
Chinese capital to study Daoism. Not much is known,
though, about how well established the religion became as
In Taiwan, free exercise of religion existed since the
a result of such exchanges.
founding of the Nationalist government in 1949. All forms
of religious practice flourished and the crafts necessary to rit-
During the Koryo˘ dynasty (918–1392), however, Dao-
ual—the painting of religious images, construction of ritual
ist ritual became part of imperial practice. King Taejo (r.
garb and implements, and so on—thrived. Many early West-
918–943) set up some fifteen Daoist sites, ordered rites for
ern researchers into the Daoism, beginning with Kristofer
the welfare of the state, and gave Daoism a ranking equal to
Schipper, began their studies with fieldwork on the island.
that of Buddhism. Subsequent emperors followed suit.
In 1951, Zhang Enpu, the putative sixty-third generation
Under King So˘njong (r. 1083–1094), Daoist rituals were no
Celestial Master founded the Taiwan Daoist Society to pro-
longer confined to the capital and, in 1115, Song Huizong
vide coordination for Daoist activities. This quasi-
provided clerics to assist in imperial Daoist rites. Jung Jae-seo
governmental organization represents only one facet of the
(2000) has found that there were a total of 191 recorded jiao
vibrant Daoist practice seen in Taiwan; Daoist practitioners
rituals performed during the Koryo˘. During this period, Ko-
and scholars have also entered into fruitful communication
rean intellectuals also became interested in Daoist practice,
with their counterparts in mainland China.
sometimes modeling their associations on the hagiographies
of Chinese Transcendents.
Outside of China, Daoist practice exists wherever there
is a substantial Chinese community. In premodern times,
The Choso˘n dynasty (1392–1910) promoted neo-
one of the vectors of transmission seems to have been non-
Confucianism as the state doctrine and closed many of the
Han peoples who had been converted to Daoism as part of
temples built during the Koryo˘, but still allowed some Daoist
strategies of Sinification. For instance, the Yao people, resi-
rituals for the welfare of the royal family. A version of Chi-
dent in northwest Thailand, practice a form of the Rectifying
nese methods of control was instituted early in the dynasty
Rites of the Center of Heaven, dating to the Song. Michel
whereby candidates for the priesthood were examined in the
Strickmann (1982) has provided evidence that the Yao ac-
Lingbao scriptures, a Zhenwu scripture, and other important
quired their traditions from officially sponsored missionaries,
texts. Eventually only one temple, the Sogyo˘k so˘, with one
perhaps as early as the Song. Comparable evidence for the
hall dedicated to Grand Unity and another to the Three Pure
Daoism of other parts of Southeast Asia has not so far been
Ones and patronized by officials, was allowed to conduct for-
mal Daoist rituals. These were entirely Chinese-style Daoist
rites. The temple was finally abolished as a consequence of
More common was the spread of Daoism with Chinese
the Japanese invasion. Nonetheless, private study of inner al-
mercantile communities, something that we know to have
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

occurred from early times. Today Singapore and Malaysia
Schafer, Edward H. The Divine Woman: Dragon Ladies and Rain
host the most widespread practice of the religion. Active as-
Maidens in T’ang Literature. Berkeley, Calif., 1973. A survey
sociations for the coordination of Daoist practice were
of Chinese mythology on water goddesses, some of whom
founded there in 1979 and 1995, respectively. These um-
were adapted into Daoism.
brella organizations frequently coordinate with the Daoist
Schipper, Kristofer. Le corps taoïste. Paris, 1982. Translated by
Associations of China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.
Karen C. Duval as The Taoist Body. Berkeley, Calif., 1993.
Schipper offers an overall analysis of the Daoist religion with
SEE ALSO Dao and De; Fangshi; Huangdi; Shugendo¯; Taiji;
an excellent chapter on ritual.
Xi Wang Mu; Yinyang Wuxing; Yuhuang.
Sivin, Nathan. “On the Word ‘Taoist’ as a Source of Perplexity.”
History of Religions 17 (1978): 303–330.
Historical Studies
General Works
Barrett, Timothy H. Taoism Under the T’ang. London, 1996. A
Bokenkamp, Stephen R. Early Daoist Scriptures. Berkeley, Calif.,
survey of relations between the state and the Daoist religion
1997. A translation and study of the Xiang’er commentary
drawn largely from the official histories.
to the Laozi and other Celestial Master, Shangqing, and
Davis, Edward L. Society and the Supernatural in Song China. Ho-
Lingbao Daoist scriptural works from the third to the fifth
nolulu, Hawaii, 2001. A study of spirit-possession and its re-
centuries CE.
lationship to Daoist and Buddhist practice.
Boltz, Judith M. A Survey of Taoist Literature: Tenth to Seventeenth
de Bruyn, Pierre-Henry. “Daoism in the Ming (1368–1644).” In
Centuries. Berkeley, Calif., 1987. A comprehensive survey of
Daoism Handbook, edited by Livia Kohn, pp. 594–622. Lei-
genres of writing found in the Daoist canon and the tradi-
den, Netherlands, 2000.
tions that produced them.
Esposito, Monica. “Daoism in the Qing (1644–1911).” In Dao-
Campany, Robert Ford. “On the Very Idea of Religions (In the
ism Handbook, edited by Livia Kohn, pp. 623–658. Leiden,
Modern West and Early Medieval China).” History of Reli-
Netherlands, 2000.
gions 42, no. 4 (2003): 287–319. This article contains im-
Goossaert, Vincent. “The Invention of an Order: Collective Iden-
portant insights on the ways “religion” was referred to in me-
tity in Thirteenth-Century Quanzhen Taoism.” Journal of
dieval China.
Chinese Religions 29 (2001): 111–138. The centerpiece of a
Ch’en Kuo-fu. Daozang yuanliu kao. 2d ed. Beijing, 1963. An im-
special section devoted to studies of Quanzhen.
portant early Chinese study of Daoist history.
Jao Tsung-i. Laozi xiang-er zhu jiaojian. Hong Kong, 1956. A
Dean, Kenneth. Taoist Ritual and Popular Cults of Southeast
study of the Xiang’er commentary to the Laozi.
China. Princeton, N.J., 1993. A study based on fieldwork
Jung Jae-seo. “Daoism in Korea.” In Daoism Handbook, edited by
that attests to the vivacity of modern Daoist practice.
Livia Kohn, pp. 792–820. Leiden, 2000.
Granet, Marcel. La pensée chinoise (1934). Reprint, Paris, 1968.
Katz, Paul R. Images of the Immortal: The Cult of Lü Dongbin at
A classic on the systems of Chinese thought with their sym-
the Palace of Eternal Joy. Honolulu, 1999. A detailed study
bols and categories. A brilliant pioneering study, it contains
of an important temple and its artwork.
interesting chapters on the Daoist schools and the techniques
Kleeman, Terry F. Great Perfection: Religion and Ethnicity in a
of longevity.
Chinese Millennial Kingdom. Honolulu, 1998. A study of the
Maspero, Henri. Mélanges posthumes sur les religions et l’histoire de
Ba converts to Daoism and the kingdom they founded in
la Chine, edited by Paul Demiéville; Vol. 2: Le taoïsme. Paris,
Sichuan in the fourth century CE.
1950. Reprinted in Le taoïsme et les religions chinoises (Paris,
Kohn, Livia, trans. and ed. Laughing at the Tao: Debates Among
1971) and translated by Frank A. Kierman Jr. as Taoism and
Taoists and Buddhists in Medieval China. Princeton, N.J.,
Chinese Religion (Amherst, Mass., 1981). Written by one of
1995. A translation and study of the Xiaodao lun of Zhen
the founders of modern French Sinology, this posthumous
work contains important essays on religious Daoism.
Masuo Shin’ichiro¯. “Daoism in Japan.” In Daoism Handbook, ed-
Needham, Joseph. Science and Civilisation in China. 5 vols. Cam-
ited by Livia Kohn, pp. 821–842. Leiden, 2000.
bridge, U.K., 1954–1983. This work is an ambitious and
Naquin, Susan. “The Transmission of White Lotus Sectarianism
successful undertaking on Chinese scientific thought, with
in Late Imperial China.” In Popular Culture in Late Imperial
chapters on Daoism (vol. 2) and a presentation of alchemy
China, edited by David Johnson, Andrew J. Nathan, and
and the techniques of longevity (vol. 5).
Evelyn S. Rawski, pp. 255–291. Berkeley, Calif., 1985.
Ren Jiyu, ed. Zhongguo daojiao shi. Shanghai, 1990. The best gen-
Seidel, Anna K. La divinisation de Lao tseu dans les taoïsme des
eral account of Daoist history produced in China to date.
Han. Paris, 1969. An excellent study of the divinization of
Robinet, Isabelle. Les commentaries du Tao Tu King jusqu’au sep-
tième siècle. 2d ed. Paris, 1981. A study of the main commen-
Seidel, Anna K. “Imperial Treasures and Taoist Sacraments: Tao-
taries of the Laozi.
ist Roots in the Apocrypha.” In Tantric and Taoist Studies II,
Robinet, Isabelle. Histoire du taoïsme des origines au XIV siècle.
edited by Michel Strickmann, pp. 291–371. Brussels, 1983.
Paris, 1992. Translated by Phyllis Brooks as Taoism: Growth
The seminal article on the relations between early Daoism
of a Religion. Stanford, Calif., 1997. One of the foremost
and Han imperial religion.
scholars of Daoist texts here traces the early development of
Stein, Rolf A. “Remarques sur les mouvements du taoïsme politi-
the religion.
co-religieux au IIe siècle ap. J.-C.” T’oung pao 50 (1963):
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

1–78. A study of sectarian revolts that brought about the
Lagerwey, John. Taoist Ritual in Chinese Society and History. New
downfall of the Han dynasty.
York, 1987. An account of the cosmology of Daoist ritual.
Strickmann, Michel. Le taoïsme du Mao-Chan: Chronique d’une
Schipper, Kristofer. “The Written Memorial in Taoist Ceremo-
révélation. Paris, 1981. A historical survey of an important
nies.” In Religion and Ritual in Chinese Society, edited by Ar-
sect of the Chinese middle ages.
thur P. Wolf, pp. 309–324. Stanford, Calif., 1974.
Strickmann, Michel. “The Tao Among the Yao: Taoism and the
Schipper, Kristofer. Le Fen-Teng: Rituel taoïste. Paris, 1975.
Sinification of South China.” In Rekishi ni okeru minshu¯ to
Schipper, Kristofer. “Taoist Ritual and the Local Cults of the
bunka, edited by Sakai Tadao, pp. 23–30. Tokyo, 1982.
T’ang Dynasty.” Taipei, 1979. This work, as well as the pre-
Verellen, Franciscus. Du Guangting (850-933): Taoïste de cour à
ceding two, written by one of the best specialists of Daoism,
la fin de la Chine médiévale. Paris, 1989. One of the few
examines various aspects of ritual.
book-length studies of the life and works of an important
Longevity Techniques and Meditation
Daoist figure, this works provides valuable information on
Anderson, Poul, trans. The Method of Holding the Three Ones: A
the development of Daoist practice during the Tang dynasty.
Taoist Manual of Meditation of the Fourth Century A.D. Co-
Daoist Hagiography
penhagen and Atlantic Highlands, N.J., 1980. A good trans-
Campany, Robert Ford. To Live as Long as Heaven and Earth: Ge
lation of a meditation text of the Mao-shan school.
Hong’s Traditions of Divine Transcendents. Berkeley, Calif.,
Baldrian-Hussein, Farzeen. Procédés secrets du Joyau magique:
2002. A translation and study of the Shenxian zhuan, this
Traité d’alchimie taoïste de l’onzième siècle. Paris, 1984. An in-
work contains important insights into transcendent cults of
troduction to a Song dynasty system of internal alchemy,
the fourth century CE and their relations with Daoism.
with translation.
Kaltenmark, Max. Le Lie sien tchouan: Biographies légendaires de
Despeux, Catherine, trans. Traité d’alchimie et de physiologie tao-
immortels taoïstes de l’antiquité. Beijing, 1953. A fully anno-
ïste. Paris, 1979. A translation of Zhao Bichen’s important
tated translation of the earliest collection of transcendent bi-
work of modern internal alchemy.
Despeux, Catherine. Taiji Quan: Technique de longue vie et de
Kleeman, Terry F. A God’s Own Tale: The Book of Transformations
combat. Paris, 1981. An interesting study of Chinese boxing,
of Wenchang, the Divine Lord of Zitong. Albany, N.Y., 1994.
with good translations.
A translation and study of a work produced by planchette in
Gulik, Robert H. van. Sexual Life in Ancient China: A Preliminary
Survey of Chinese Sex and Society from ca. 1500 B.C. till 1644
Ngo Van Xuyet. Divination, magie, et politique dans la Chine an-
A.D. (1961). Reprint, New York, 2003. A pioneering work
cienne. Paris, 1976. A thorough study of the occult sciences
on an important subject, with an interesting chapter on the
and fangshi in China during the Han dynasty and the Three
various interpretations of alchemical language.
Kingdoms period.
Maspero, Henri. “Les procédés de ‘nourrir le principe vital’ dans
Schipper, Kristofer. L’Empereur Wou des Han dans la légende tao-
la religion taoïste ancienne.” Journal asiatique 229 (1937):
ïste. Paris, 1965. A translation of an ancient Daoist novel,
177–252, 353–430. Reprinted in Le taoïsme et les religions
important for the study of the legends and practices of the
chinoises (Paris, 1971). Fundamental work on physiological
Mao-shan school.
Daoism and Fine Arts
Robinet, Isabelle. Méditation taoïste. Paris, 1979. Translated by
Chang Chung-yüan. Creativity and Taoism: A Study of Chinese
Norman Girardot and Julian Pas as Taoist Meditation (Alba-
Philosophy, Art, and Poetry. New York, 1963. Examines the
ny, N.Y., 1993). A study of Shangqing visualization tech-
influence of Daoist thought on the arts and poetry.
niques by the foremost scholar of Shangqing literature.
Little, Stephen, ed. Taoism and the Arts of China. Chicago, 2000.
Schafer, Edward H. Pacing the Void: T’ang Approaches to the Stars.
The illustrated catalog of the first Western exhibit of Daoist-
Berkeley, Calif., 1977. Tang dynasty astronomical lore, in-
related art, this book includes essays by scholars on a variety
cluding the foundations of Daoist dipper practice.
of subjects.
Alchemy and Medicine
Daoist Ritual
Pregadio, Fabrizio. “Elixirs and Alchemy.” In Daoism Handbook,
Hou Ching-Lang. Monnaies d’offrande et la Notion de Trésorerie
edited by Livia Kohn, pp. 165–195. Leiden, Netherlands,
dans la religion chinoise. Paris, 1975. An interesting work that
helps to understand some aspects of Daoist ritual.
Sivin, Nathan. Chinese Alchemy: Preliminary Studies. Cambridge,
Kaltenmark, Max. “Quelques remarques sur le T’ai-chang Ling-
Mass., 1968. A first-rate study of an alchemical treatise writ-
pao wou-fou siu.” Zinbun 18 (1982): 1–10. Includes a de-
ten by Sun Simiao of the Tang dynasty.
scription of an ancient ritual.
Ware, James R., trans. Alchemy, Medicine, Religion in the China
Kleeman, Terry F., “Licentious Cults and Bloody Victuals: Sacri-
of A.D. 320: The Nei-P’ien of Ko Hung (1967). Reprint, New
fice, Reciprocity, and Violence in Traditional China.” Asia
York, 1981. Complete translation of the Daoist section of
Major (3d series) 7, no. 1 (1994): 185–211. The primary
the Baopuzi. Unfortunately it is not always reliable.
study of the sacrificial religion against which Daoism devel-
Diverse Collections and Articles
oped its “Pure Covenant” with the gods.
History of Religions 9 (November 1969 and February 1970). Pro-
Lagerwey, John. Wu-shang pi-yao: Somme taoïste du sixieme siècle.
ceedings of the First International Conference of Taoist
Paris, 1981. A study of the first Daoist anthology.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

Welch, Holmes, and Anna K. Seidel, eds. Facets of Taoism: Essays
The Way of the Heavenly Masters was founded, accord-
in Chinese Religion. New Haven, Conn., 1979. Proceedings
ing to the mid-third century Zhengi fawen Tianshi jiao-jie
of the Second International Conference of Daoist Studies.
k’o-jing (Scripture of the rules and Teachings of the Heavenly
Zürcher, Erik. “Buddhist Influence on Early Taoism.” T’oung pao
Masters, a Text of the Method of Orthodox Unity), by
66 (1980): 84–147.
Zhang Daoling. He is there said to have received, in the year
142, from the Newly Manifested Lord Lao (Xinzhu Laojun),
Loon, Piet van der. Taoist Books in the Libraries of the Sung Period:
the “Way of the Covenant of Orthodox Unity with the Pow-
A Critical Study and Index. Ithaca, N.Y., 1984. A work in-
ers” (zhengyi mengwei dao). He set up twenty-four “gover-
tended for specialists; however, the introduction on Daoist
nances” (zhi) and “divided and spread the energies of the
literature in Song times is of general interest.
mysterious (celestial), the original (terrestrial), and the begin-
Seidel, Anna. “Chronicle of Taoist Studies in the West, 1950–
ning (the Way) in order to govern the people.” The earliest
1990.” Cahiers d’Extrême-Asie 5 (1989–1990): 223–348.
list of these governances appears in the late sixth-century
This journal continues to publish important articles on
Wushang biyao (Essentials of the supreme secrets): it places
all but one of the governances in what is now Sichuan prov-
Soymié, Michel. “Bibliographie du taoïsme: Études dans les
ince and clearly confirms that the movement started in the
langues occidentales.” Études taoïstes 3–4 (1968–1971): 247–
western part of that province.
313 and 225–287.
To¯ho¯ shu¯kyo¯ (Journal of eastern religions). Sponsored by the Japan
According to the dynastic histories, Zhang Daoling was
Society of Daoistic Research, this journal publishes impor-
succeeded by his son Heng, and Heng by his son Lu. Zhang
tant articles and each year a bibliography of scholarship on
Lu controlled northeastern Szezhuan for over thirty years,
Daoism in Japanese and Western languages from the preced-
until he surrendered in 215 to Cao Cao, future founder of
ing year.
the Wei dynasty (220–264). Cao Cao gave him the title
“General Who Controls the South” (zhennan jiangjun), en-
feoffed him, and married his son Pengzu to Lu’s daughter.
It was probably at this time that the last of the twenty-four
governances was located in the capital city of Luoyang and
that the Way of Orthodox Unity (Zhengyi Mengwei Dao)
There is no trace in the historical records of any organized
became the dominant religion in the state of Wei. It remains
Daoist community before the Latter Han dynasty (25–220
to this day the most important form of religious Daoism.
CE). Among the various politico-religious movements that
SIX DYNASTIES PERIOD. The dynastic histories note that the
sprang up during the second century as the dynasty went into
adherents of Zhang Daoling were called “rice rebels” because
decline, the most famous are the Way of the Heavenly Mas-
a tax of five bushels of rice was levied on initiates. Through-
ters (Tianshi Dao) and the Way of Great Peace (Tai ping
out the Period of Disunion (220–589), the nickname Way
Dao). Although the historical evidence linking these two
of the Five Bushels of Rice (Wudoumi Dao) continued to
groups is slim, both clearly aimed at the total transformation
be applied to the “church” of the Heavenly Masters. Its origi-
of society and the establishment of a Daoist utopia; both
nal organization consisted of a hierarchy of laypeople called
were founded by people surnamed Zhang, probably because
“demon soldiers” (guizu), low-level priests called “demon
the Zhang clan was thought to be descended from the Yellow
clerks” (guili), higher-level priests called “libationers” (jijiu),
Emperor, who, together with Laozi, was revered in Han
and chief priests called “head libationers.” Each of the liba-
Daoism as the divine source of Daoist teachings; both orga-
tioners was in charge of an “inn of equity” (yishe). Said to
nized the faithful into cosmologically determined units; and
be like the postal relay stations of the Han government, these
both considered sickness a sign of sin and therefore pre-
inns were open to travelers, and free “meat and rice of equi-
scribed confession as a prerequisite for healing.
ty” were supplied them.
HAN PERIOD. At least partly inspired by a Tai ping jing
That the “church” had in fact virtually supplanted the
(Scripture of great peace), presented to the throne during the
state may be seen from the fact that justice was administered
reign of the emperor Shun (r. 126–145 CE), the Way of
by the libationers. Minor infractions were punished by the
Great Peace was founded by three brothers who called them-
obligation to repair the routes between the inns: the word
selves the generals of the lords, respectively, of Heaven,
dao means “way, route,” and free circulation of goods, per-
Earth, and Man. In addition to healing by means of confes-
sons, and ideas was considered essential to a society built on
sion and “symbol-water” (fu-shui), they and their subordi-
Daoist principles.
nates spread the message that a new era, the era of Yellow
Heaven, was about to begin. Having organized their adher-
The basic institutions and attitudes of the movement all
ents, known as the Yellow Turbans, into thirty-six military
reveal its utopian character. Perhaps most striking in this re-
regions (fang) covering eight of the twelve provinces of the
gard is the equal treatment accorded to men and women—
empire (all of eastern China), they rose in revolt in the first
both could become libationers—and to Chinese and tribal
year of a new sixty-year cycle, a jiazi year (184 CE). It took
populations. There were, as a result, a large number of these
government forces a full ten months to crush the revolt.
tribal people among the adepts of the Heavenly Masters. The
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

various titles given the leaders of the movement, and in par-
most elevated service performed by Daoist priests at the re-
ticular that of libationer, were taken from the Han system
quest of temple communities.
of local administration, where they referred to individuals se-
Progress in this vast meritocracy was marked by the
lected locally for their moral qualities and their wisdom. The
graded transmission of a whole series of commandments and
hierarchy envisaged was one that was communally oriented
registers. According to the Regulations of the Most Perfect, the
and merit based. Although the position of Heavenly Master
first series of commandments was transmitted to seven-year-
was in later times a hereditary one, it is not certain that this
old children. Starting at the age of eight, they could receive
was true at first; until as late as the Five Dynasties period
a register with the name and description of one general on
(907–960) there are many references to heavenly masters of
it, then the register of ten generals at age twenty. Next came
surnames other than Zhang.
the registers of seventy-five generals, of which there were
In addition to running the inns of equity, the libationers
two, a feminine (yin) one giving control over seventy-five im-
were charged with the task of explaining the Laozi (Dao de
mortals (xian), and a masculine (yang) one, to which were
jing) to the faithful. Part of a commentary on the Laozi, the
attached the same number of potentates (ling). The Regula-
Xiang’er zhu, found in the Dunhuang caves at the beginning
tions state simply that these two registers are to be transmit-
of this century, is generally attributed to Zhang Lu. The
ted successively to the same person. It is probable, however,
commentary insists above all on the moral conduct of the
that the second transmission occurred only after successful
faithful: “Who practices the Dao and does not infringe
accomplishment of the rites of sexual union called “mingling
the commandments will be profound as the Dao itself; Heav-
the energies” (heqi), for the reform-minded Heavenly Master
en and Earth are like the Dao, kind to the good, unkind to
Kou Qianzhi (d. 448), in forbidding the practice of these
the wicked; therefore people must accumulate good works
rites by other than married couples in his New Regulations,
so that their spirit can communicate with Heaven.”
refers explicitly to the “registers of male and female officers.”
The “demon clerks”—so called, no doubt, because they
These registers gave the names and physical descriptions
had direct charge of the “demon soldiers”—had as their chief
of these generals and the armies of immortal and spiritual of-
task the recitation of prayers for the sick. After the sick per-
ficers under their command. The role of these armies was to
son had first meditated on his sins in a “quiet room” (jingshi),
guard and protect the adept, just as the gods of the popular
the demon clerk would write down the person’s name and
pantheon, who are also often called generals, were supposed
the purpose of his confession. He drew up this “handwritten
to do. The adept who received further registers was called a
document for the Three Officers” in three copies, one to be
“Daoist who distributes his energies” (sanqi Taoshi), that is,
sent to each of these governors of Heaven, Earth, and the
one who had moved beyond self-protection to saving others:
Waters. It was for this service that the faithful contributed
a priest.
five bushels of rice, as well as the paper and brush for prepar-
In general, each additional register increased the adept’s
ing the documents.
power over the invisible world of the spirits and added there-
An early Daoist text, the Tai-zhen ke (Regulations of the
by to his understanding of the Covenant of Orthodox Unity
most perfect) states that every household should set up a
with the Powers. To enter the Way of the Heavenly Masters
meditation room and place the list of the names of its mem-
meant to worship only those powers enrolled, like the adepts
bers in five bushels filled with “faith-rice” (xinmi). Every
themselves, on official registers and to cease to worship the
year, at the beginning of the tenth month, all the faithful
“gods of ordinary people” (sushen). According to the Xiang’er
were to gather at the governance of the Heavenly Master
commentary, “the Way is most venerable, it is subtle and
himself and contribute their faith-rice to the Heavenly Gra-
hidden, it has no face nor form; one can only follow its com-
nary. They would then go in to pay their respects to the
mandments, not know or see it.” The ultimate goal was to
Heavenly Master and listen to an explanation of the rituals,
know this invisible way, to “hold on” to its mysterious—
ordinances, and commandments. The family registers of all
“orthodox”—Unity. This required forswearing all contact
the faithful were to be brought up to date at this time, that
with the multiple “heterodox cults” (yinsi) current among the
is, births, deaths, and marriages were to be recorded, so that
people. Throughout the Period of Disunion and, in some-
the centrally held registers agreed with the family registers.
what diluted form, down to the present day, Orthodox
Unity Daoists have been, like the Confucians, implacable
Similar gatherings were held in the first and seventh
opponents of these cults.
months, the former to determine, according to their respec-
tive merits, the advancement of the officers of the move-
This well-formed, cosmologically comprehensive eccle-
ment, the latter that of the laypeople. On each of these three
siastical organization survived, more or less intact and with
“days of meeting” (huiri), linked respectively to the Three
appropriate modifications, through the Tang dynasty (618–
Officers (San Guan) of Heaven, Earth, and the Waters, a
907). One of the reasons for its survival was its readiness to
“memorial stating the merit [of each and all] was sent up.”
come to terms, in the manner of Zhang Lu, with the state.
These days of meeting, especially the grand assembly of the
The Scripture of the Teachings of the Heavenly Master cited
tenth month, are clearly the origin of the community Offer-
above explicitly criticizes the Yellow Turbans as a “perverse
ings (jiao), which continue to constitute, to this day, the
way” (Xiedao) responsible for the death of millions. The same
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

text states that the Dao, that is, Lord Lao, had often in the
western regions beyond China and there transformed himself
past appeared as the “teacher of kings and emperors.” But
into the Buddha in order to convert the barbarians is first
after his “new manifestation” in the year 142, he would ap-
attested in a memorial presented to the throne in the year
pear no more, for “Lord Lao had then bestowed on Zhang
166 by one Xiang Kai. At that time, Buddhism was still per-
Daoling the position of Heavenly Master.” Now, in the year
ceived in China as a form of Daoism, and so the legend was
255, the Heavenly Master urges the faithful to obey the
useful, even complimentary to the Buddhists. But by the
“pure government of the Wei.”
time the libationer Wang Fou wrote the first known (now
lost) version of the Huahu jing around the year 300, Bud-
The power and the appropriateness of this conception
dhism had become an entirely autonomous force in Chinese
in the context of the Confucian state may be seen from the
life, and the compliment had turned into a polemic slur.
fact that in 442 the emperor Taiwu (r. 424–452) of the
Northern Wei (386–535) became the first of a long line of
The Daoists rarely won the court debates, and the
emperors to “receive registers” (shoulu), that is, to receive a
Huahu jing was regularly proscribed over the centuries, start-
Daoist initiation that was tantamount to ecclesiastical (di-
ing in 668 with its suppression by Tang Gaozong (r. 650–
vine) investiture. Emperors—especially, but not exclusively,
684). But before the work disappeared definitively from cir-
those favorable to Daoism—perpetuated this practice until
culation, after Yuan Shizu (r. 1260–1295) ordered all copies
the end of the Northern Song dynasty (960–1126).
burned in 1281, it had served for nearly a millennium as a
means of conveying a central Daoist conviction, based on
The man who thus invested the emperor Taiwu was
many a passage in the Laozi, that the Dao embraced all
Kou Qianzhi. In 425, Kou was named Heavenly Master and
things, large and small, high and low, Chinese and barbarian.
his New Regulations, partly of Buddhist inspiration, was pro-
To the Daoists it followed logically that “Daoism”—the
mulgated throughout the realm. In 431, in what may be con-
“teaching of the Way” (daojiao)—included within itself all
sidered a forerunner of the system of officially sponsored ab-
other teachings.
beys (guan) begun under the Tang and continued through
the Qing (1644–1911), altars (tan) were set up and priests
Outrageous from the Buddhist point of view, Daoist
assigned to officiate on them in every province.
universalism was most attractive to Chinese emperors. The
emperor Wu of the Northern Zhou dynasty, for example,
It is also noteworthy that the first great persecution of
began the decree in which he ordered the foundation of the
Buddhism occurred under the reign of the emperor Taiwu:
Abbey for Communicating with the Way (Tongdao Guan)
inspired by Kou’s Confucian friend, Cui Hao (381–450),
a mere eleven days after proscribing Buddhism as follows:
and with Kou’s reluctant cooperation, a decree promulgated
“The supreme Way is vast and profound: it envelops both
in the year 444 attacked, in the same breath, the “heterodox
being and nonbeing; it informs highest heaven and darkest
cults,” with their mediums and sorcerers, and Buddhism. Al-
hell.” According to Buddhist sources, the people appointed
though the proscription of Buddhism that followed in the
to staff this state abbey were all “enthusiasts of the Laozi and
year 446 was rescinded by a new emperor in 454, these
the Zhuangzi and proponents of the unity of the Three
events proved to be the opening round of a long competition
for imperial favor. In southern China, in 517, the emperor
Wu (r. 502–549) of the Liang dynasty (502–557) abolished
Another expression of Daoist universalism constantly
all Daoist temples and ordered the return of Daoist priests
attacked by the Buddhists was its regular “fabrication” of
to the laity. In the year 574, after a series of debates between
new texts by plagiarizing Buddhist su¯tras. This criticism ap-
representatives of the “three teachings” (sanjiao)—
plied especially to the Lingbao (“numinous treasure”) scrip-
Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism—the emperor Wu
tures that began to appear in southeastern China in the 390s.
(r. 560–578) of the Northern Zhou dynasty (557–581) pro-
The most important of these texts, the Wuliang duren jing
scribed Buddhism and made Daoism the state religion. Dao-
(Scripture of universal salvation), may be described as pure
ists were later instrumental in bringing about the suppression
“Maha¯ya¯na Daoism.” From start to finish, it has the flavor
of Buddhism by the Tang emperor Wuzong (r. 841–847) in
of a Buddhist scripture, but the revealed words come from
the year 845 and its reduction to subordinate status by the
the mouth, not of the Buddha, the “World-honored One”
emperors Huizung (r. 1101–1126) of the Northern Song
(Shizun), but from that of the “Heaven-honored One of the
dynasty, in 1119, and Taizu (r. 1206–1229) of the Yuan
Primordial Beginning” (Yuanshi Tianzun), that is, the Dao.
dynasty, starting in 1224.
These texts also take over Buddhist notions of karmic retri-
bution and introduce Buddhist-inspired rituals for the dead.
The most telling arguments used in these various con-
flicts were, on the Buddhist side, that the only authentic
Some twenty years prior to the appearance of the first
Daoist works were those of its philosophers, the Laozi and
Lingbao texts, another group of texts had been revealed in
the Zhuangzi and, on the Daoist side, that Buddhism was a
the same part of China that was to play an extremely impor-
foreign religion suitable only for barbarians. The court de-
tant role in the court Daoism of the Tang dynasty. Owing
bates themselves often focused on a Daoist text called the
little to Buddhism, this new Shangqing (“high purity”) liter-
Huahu jing (Scripture of the conversion of the barbarians).
ature completely transformed the methods of the traditional,
The idea that Laozi, at the end of his life, had gone into the
eremetic Daoism of the South—alchemy, gymnastics, diet,
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

visualization, and sexual practices—by incorporating them
texts: together, they met every religious need, from that of
into a complex system revealed in ecstatic prose and poetry
a sick peasant requiring an exorcism to that of the refined
by a kind of automatic writing during séances. Recitation of
aristocrat seeking sublime spiritual union.
these sacred texts and visualization of the spirits described in
them became the high roads to spiritual realization in this
The idea of this tripartite division was no doubt inspired
by the Buddhist Tripit:aka, but whereas the division of the
latter was generic, that of the Daoist was practical. Corre-
The milieu in which these revelations occurred was that
spondingly graded registers, moreover, were created to ac-
of the southern aristocracy, a group that recently had been
company initiation into each successive level of texts. Five
supplanted by émigrés fleeing North China after the barbar-
separate rituals of transmission were included in the original
ian capture of the capital city of Luoyang in 311. These émi-
Wushang biyao (compiled c. 580 at imperial behest): progres-
grés, who founded the Eastern Jin dynasty (317–420), with
sive initiation into the texts of the Three Caverns was preced-
its capital in Jiankang (modern Nanking), brought with
ed by the transmission of ten commandments (against mur-
them the Way of the Heavenly Masters, and many Southern-
der, robbery, adultery, etc.) and of the Laozi.
ers—among them the father and uncle of Xu Mi (303–373),
one of the main recipients of the new revelations—had
The addition of these two rituals of initiation was a clear
adopted the Northerners’ religion. Wei Huazun (d. 334)
sign that the idea of the Three Caverns, however coherent
herself, the “teacher in the beyond” of the inspired calligra-
ideologically, was too far removed from the reality of Daoist
pher of the revealed texts, one Yang Xi (330–?), had been,
practice to survive without major modifications. The other
during her life on earth, a libationer. Xu Mi continued to
ritual chapters in the Wushang biyao provided further evi-
employ his father’s libationer, Li Tung. One of the “real per-
dence of this: nine of ten chapters were taken directly from
sons” (zhenren) who was revealing to Xu the new methods
the texts of the Three Caverns, but one, the “mud and soot
for spiritual (as opposed to physical) rites of union criticized
fast” (tutan zhai), a ritual of confession, required an officiant
Xu for his excessive use of the old methods of the Heavenly
who was at once a “libationer belonging to a diocese of the
Masters: “The method for mingling the energies is not prac-
Heavenly Masters” and a “ritual master of the Three Cav-
ticed by the Real Persons; it is an inferior Way that destroys
erns.” This situation was remedied, probably in the early
the orthodox energies of the real vapors.” Also, illness was
Tang period, by adding the Four Supplements (gsifu) to the
attributed not to sin and consequent attacks by demons, but
Three Caverns. In the resulting initiation hierarchy, Ortho-
to physiological causes, and massages and drugs were there-
dox Unity texts occupied, appropriately, the bottom of the
fore prescribed instead of the confession of sins. The demons
seven rungs: emperors interested in Daoism invited Shangq-
of the Shangqing texts are those forces that try to keep the
ing masters to court and received their registers, but the typi-
adept from achieving the level of concentration necessary for
cal country priest required no more than the registers of Or-
the spiritual union with a divine spouse, which alone can lead
thodox Unity—and the skills they implied. The remaining
to “realization” (immortality).
three of the Four Supplements also incorporated older Dao-
ist traditions: alchemy, the Scripture of Great Peace, and the
It was probably a second- or third-generation practi-
tioner of the new techniques of realization who first classified
Daoist literature into the “three caverns” (sandong). Tradi-
ANG PERIOD. The Tang dynasty saw the development of
tionally, it is Lu Xiujing (406–477) who is credited with this
the more or less definitive forms not only of the Daoist
hierarchical classification, which places Shangqing texts first,
canon, but also of Daoist messianism and monasticism.
Lingbao second, and Sanhuang (Three Sovereigns) last. The
Closely related to its utopianism, Daoist messianism always
Sanhuang scriptures, of which only small portions survive,
had an intensely political character. In the second-century
represent the talismanic, exorcistic literature of popular Dao-
Laozi bianhua jing (Scripture of the transformations of
ism. It may be that they represent the tradition of the Yellow
Laozi), Laozi puts himself forward as the messianic leader.
Turbans, for the Three Sovereigns are those of Heaven,
But during the Period of Disunion, it was usually a “descen-
Earth, and Man, whose lords the brothers Zhang served as
dant” of Laozi, the Perfect Lord (zhenjun) Li Hung, who ex-
cited the messianic hopes of the people. Thus Kou Qianzhi,
in his Laojun yinsong jiejing (Scripture of the recitation of the
Heavenly Master texts are conspicuously absent from
prescriptions of Lord Lao), complains that many false proph-
this classification, but it may well be that they were felt by
ets “attack the orthodox Dao and deceive the common peo-
Lu, who is one of the most important liturgists in Daoist his-
ple. All they have to say is, ‘Lord Lao should reign, Li Hung
tory, to be unnecessary: not only would he have shared, as
ought to manifest himself.’” Li Hung messianism even ap-
a practitioner of Shangqing methods, the dim views of the
pears in the Shangqing scriptures: according to the Shangq-
sexual rites of the Heavenly Masters, but also, and more im-
ing housheng daojun liji (Shangqing biography of the Latter-
portantly, he had incorporated the basic Heavenly Master lit-
day Saint and Lord of the Way), Li Hung will appear in a
urgy into the Lingbao texts, which he himself had edited.
jen-renchen year (the twenty-ninth year of the sixty-year
The Three Caverns thus constituted a complete and self-
cycle, possibly 392) to establish a new world populated by
contained canon of exorcistic, liturgical, and meditational
the chosen and governed directly by the Latter-day Saint.
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The centuries-old conflict between this popular Daoist
It is generally assumed, with good reason, that these and
messianism and the Heavenly Master tendency—seen in the
other non-state abbeys were populated by monks and nuns.
careers of both Zhang Lu and Kou Qianzhi—to opt for the
First, people who entered these institutions were said, like
role of spiritual advisor to the emperor, found its perfect res-
their Buddhist counterparts, to have “left the family” (chu-
olution in the Tang dynasty when, at last, not Li Hung him-
jia). Second, from the mid-sixth to the mid-eighth century,
self, but another family of the same surname as Laozi, Li,
a new type of Lingbao scripture, clearly designed for monas-
came to power. This advent, moreover, is said to have been
tic living was very much in vogue: the vocabulary and long-
predicted toward the end of the Sui dynasty (589–618) by
winded style of these texts is that of Buddhist scholastics; re-
one Ji Hui, a Daoist who had entered the Abbey for Com-
peatedly, they recommend such Buddhist virtues as charity
munication with the Way at the beginning of the Sui dynas-
and compassion and such Buddhist practices as scripture-
ty: “A descendant of the Lord Lao is about to rule the world,
copying, recitation, and preaching; above all, they explicitly
and our teaching will prosper.” No sooner had Tang Gaozu
recommend celibacy. The Taishang icheng Haikong zhizang
(r. 618–627) come to power than he asked Ji Hui to cele-
jing (The reservoir of wisdom of sea-void, a scripture of the
brate an Offering to pray for divine benediction on the
unique vehicle of the Most High), after speaking in deroga-
dynasty. He then ordered the complete rebuilding of the Lou
tory manner of Orthodox Unity Daoists, affirms that only
Guan (Tower Abbey) and, in 620, changed its name to
those who “leave the family” can liberate themselves from all
Zungsheng Guan (Abbey of the Holy Ancestor). In 625,
attachments and achieve enlightenment. Preaching is impor-
after holding a debate between representatives of the “three
tant in this ekaya¯na (“unique vehicle”) Daoism because it
teachings,” Gaozu ranked them in the order Daoism, Confu-
frees people from doubt and ignorance.
cianism, and Buddhism.
Other texts in this group, however, such as the Yuany-
Tower Abbey occupied the site where Laozi was said to
ang jing (Scripture of the primordial Yang) suggest that these
have revealed the Laozi to the keeper of the pass, Yin Xie,
Buddhist practices are but a preparation for more traditional
before disappearing into the western regions. Daoist sources
Daoist ones, among which it names the rites of sexual union.
make it out to have been a center for the cult of Laozi already
Indeed, Daoist monks and nuns often lived in the same com-
in the time of Qing Shihuang (r. 221–209 BCE) and describe
munity and are known to have practiced these rites: they had
it as an important northern Daoist center throughout the Pe-
“left their families,” but Daoist commandments forbade only
riod of Disunion. In the Tang dynasty it became a dynastic
concupiscence, not intercourse. On the contrary, carefully
cult center. In 679 its abbot, Yin Wencao (d. 688) compiled,
regulated sexual intercourse was one of the oldest of Daoist
on the order of the emperor, the Sheng Ji (Annals of the saint)
roads to immortality, said to have been practiced by Laozi
in ten volumes. Judging on the basis of its Song-dynasty suc-
cessor, the Hunyuan sheng ji (Annals of the saint of the
womb), this was a “salvation history” of Daoism, presented
State support entailed state control. The emperor Xuan-
as the successive divine interventions of Lord Lao in human
zong introduced registration of Buddhist and Daoist monks
history. In 741, after the emperor Xuanzong (r. 713–756)
and nuns and restriction of their movement. He set limits
had encountered his divine ancestor in a dream, a statue cor-
on the size of monastic communities and on their land hold-
responding to the face he had seen in his dream was found
ings. He ordered all monks who had not received official or-
near the Abbey of the Holy Ancestor. The emperor had the
dination certificates to pass an exam. A commissioner was
statue set up in the inner palace for his own worship. He then
appointed for each religion to ensure that these various ordi-
ordered that similar statues be cast and sent to all the state-
nances were respected. Specific ritual services were also re-
sponsored abbeys in the country, declared a general amnesty,
quired of these state clergy: both Buddhists and Daoists were
and had an inscribed tablet set up at the Zongsheng Guan
to perform services for the deceased of the imperial family
to commemorate these events.
on the anniversaries of their deaths; Daoists also celebrated
rituals for the prosperity of the state on the three “days of
The first network of Daoist buildings was that associat-
origin” (the fifteenth day of the first, seventh, and tenth
ed with the twenty-four governances of Heavenly Master
months) and on the emperor’s birthday. This latter was made
Daoism in the second century. The first state-sponsored
a three-day national holiday, to be celebrated with feasting
Daoist abbey in history is generally thought to be the
throughout the empire.
Chongxu Guan (House for the Veneration of the Void)
founded in 467 by the emperor Ming of the Liu Song (420–
Xuanzong favored Daoism in still other ways: he inau-
479) for Lu Xiujing. But it was not until 666, after perform-
gurated imperial use of a ritual known as “throwing the drag-
ing the feng-shan ritual of celestial investiture on Taishan,
on and the prayer slips” (tou longjian), its aim was to report
that the Tang emperor Gaozong (r. 649–683) decreed the
dynastic merit to the Three Officers and to pray for personal
creation of a system of state-sponsored Daoist (and Bud-
immortality. In 731, upon the suggestion of the Shangqing
dhist) monasteries in each of the prefectures—there were
patriarch Sima Chengzhen (647–735), sanctuaries dedicated
over three hundred—in the empire. This dual system was
to the Daoist Perfect Lords of the Five Sacred Peaks were set
perpetuated under all successive dynasties, until the fall of
up on these mountains and Daoist priests selected to staff
the empire in 1911.
them. In early 742 the emperor ordered all Daoist temples
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

in the empire to copy the Benji jing (Scripture of the original
term) throughout the coming year. At the end of the year
Monastic Populations
he issued a second decree attributing the good harvest to the
merit thus obtained. In 748 he added to the Daoist monastic
network a system of shrines on all forty-six mountains that
had “cave-heavens” (tongtian). He also ordered the establish-
ment of abbeys on the various sites where famous Daoists of
the past had “obtained the Way.” Between two and five Dao-
ists were appointed for each of these new shrines and abbeys.
Xuanzong also went to considerable lengths in giving
institutional form to the special relationship between the rul-
ing house and its divine ancestor: in 737 he placed the Daoist
clergy under the jurisdiction of the Office of the Imperial
T ABLE 1 .
Clan; in 741 he ordered the creation of temples for the wor-
ship of Laozi in the two capitals (Chang’an and Luoyang)
icy restricting the number of ordinations. Ordination im-
and in each prefecture, as well as a parallel network of Daoist
plied exemption from taxation, conscription, and corvée. A
academies and examinations. The imperial ancestral tablets
Southern Song-dynasty (1127–1260) compilation of the
were henceforth to be kept in the temple dedicated to Laozi
Qing-Yuan period (1195–1201) restricts the number of
in Chang’an, and statues of the imperial ancestors were set
Daoist novices to one per fifty and of Buddhist to one per
up in the Taiqing Gong (Palace of Grand Purity), which had
hundred of the population as a whole. Qing-dynasty (1644–
been built in Pozhou, Laozi’s birthplace. In the mid-740s
1911) law allowed monks and nuns of both religions to
Xuanzong had his own image set up next to that of Laozi
adopt a single pupil to whom they could transmit their ordi-
in the Taiqing Gong in Chang’an, and later added those of
nation certificate. No religious institution could be founded
his chief ministers as well. A first imperial commentary on
without imperial permission.
the Laozi was published in 732, a second in 735, and in 745
the Laozi was declared superior to the Confucian classics.
All nineteenth-century observers note that the result of
Among Xuanzong’s successors—at least five of whom died
these restrictive policies was a glaring gap between the law
of elixir poisoning in their Daoist-inspired quest for immor-
and reality. At the beginning of the Qing dynasty, a state
tality—only Wuzong (r. 840–846) found anything to add
census revealed 12,482 monasteries and temples founded
to Xuanzong’s ideological edifice: he made Laozi’s birthday
with imperial permission and 67,140 without. Already in the
a three-day national holiday.
eighth century, Zhang Wanfu (fl. 711), in his Shou sandong
jingjie falu zheri li (Calendar for the selection of days for the
ties naturally could not make use of this link with Laozi; the
transmission of the registers, prescriptions, and scriptures of
Song replaced it with a similar genealogical tie to the equally
the Three Caverns), complains that the Daoists of these areas
Daoist Yellow Emperor, but the Tang system of state control
paid attention neither to the fasts of the official liturgy nor
and support survived. Registration statistics preserved over
to the proper transmission of ritual knowledge: “Their only
the centuries provide interesting insight into the shape and
interest is in Offerings and sacrifices.” Moreover, their “vul-
functioning of the system. (See table 1.)
gar ways” had become popular of late in the capital cities of
Chang’an and Luoyang as well.
The figures for the year 739 show that even the extrava-
These comments of Zhang suggest that, by his time, the
gant patronage of Xuanzong did not suffice to bring the
aristocratic, meditative Shangqing tradition already was los-
number of Daoist monastic centers on a par with those of
ing ground to more popular forms of Daoism. Other indica-
the Buddhists. This is not a reflection of the relative popular-
tions of this are the gradual rise of a “Confucian” Daoist
ity of the two religions, but of the fact that lay clergy contin-
movement called the Way of Filial Piety (Xiaodao). First
ued to be the norm among Daoists. A text compiled at impe-
heard of in the seventh century, claiming to have been
rial behest around 712, the Miaomen youqi (Origins of the
founded by one Xu Sun (239–292?), it was in fact a local
school of mystery) distinguishes between hermits and those
cult whose growth from its base in Hongzhou (Jiangxi) had
who “leave the family,” on the one hand, and libationers and
led to its adoption and absorption by Daoism. This process
those who “live at home,” on the other. These latter catego-
was to be repeated many times in the future, most notably
ries, whose chief function is healing, are said to be particular-
in the case of a local Fujian cult of two brothers, which was
ly numerous in Sichuan and the South.
converted by imperial decree in 1417 into a state Daoist cult.
The figures from the eleventh and seventeenth centuries
The emperor Chengzu (r. 1403–1425) decided on the eleva-
show a marked decline for the Buddhists and remarkable sta-
tion of these two “perfect lords of boundless grace” (hong’en
bility for the Daoists. Although Buddhism is generally said
zhenjun) after a nagging illness had been cured by a drug pre-
to have lost much influence under the last two dynasties,
scribed, apparently, by the Fujian temple’s medium. The
what these figures really demonstrate is the success of the pol-
brothers’ official titles in the imperial “canon of sacrifices”
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

were lengthened, a second temple built for them in the capi-
Zhengfa (“orthodox rites of the heart of heaven”), a new
tal, a special Daoist liturgy created, and, in 1420, a Lingbao
form of exorcistic healing based on texts discovered on
scripture produced. It taught the virtues of loyalty to one’s
Mount Hua-kai (Jiangxi province) and attributed to Zhang
superiors, filial piety, charity, and justice, and the emperor
Daoling himself. The movement spread throughout south-
had it printed for dissemination on a wide scale in order to
ern China—the Yao tribes that have since migrated to Thai-
repay his debt to the divine brothers.
land still practice these rites today—and by the start of the
twelfth century was deemed important enough to merit im-
Another example of the increasing imbrication of popu-
perial attention (the oldest extant collection of these rites was
lar cults, imperial ideology, and Daoist liturgy occurred at
presented to the throne by one Yuan Miaozong in 1116).
the beginning of the Song dynasty. Between 960 and 994,
a commoner by the name of Zhang Shouzhen received a se-
Du Guangting (850–933) was at once an important
ries of revelations on Mount Zhongnan, the site of Tower
Daoist liturgist and one of Daoism’s greatest hagiographers.
Abbey. The god, who was an assistant of the Jade Emperor,
His liturgical compilations draw on both the Lingbao and
revealed himself to be the divine protector of the new ruling
the Zhengi traditions; his collections of anecdotal literature
house and instructed Zhang to find a Daoist master. Having
are a gold mine of information on local cults and popular
been initiated by a Daoist of Tower Abbey, Zhang received
Daoism. The liturgies may be described as a synthesis of past
further revelations leading to the establishment of an imperi-
practice, the stories as a harbinger of future developments:
ally funded temple in 976, an official title in 981, and, above
Du’s career marks a watershed in the history of Daoism.
all, a system of Daoist Offerings that has survived, at least
Suddenly, the veil is lifted on the world of popular
in part, until the present day.
piety—a world of miracles, exorcisms, pilgrimages, and por-
The basic feature of the new system is the grading of Of-
tents—and on the place of Daoism in that world. In his Dao-
ferings according to the number of “stellar seats” (xingwei)—
jiao lingyan ji (Records of Daoist miracles), for example, Du
from 24 to 3,600—used to construct the altar. Divided into
tells a story about Xu Sun’s magic bell: when a military gov-
nine grades (3 x 3), the upper three altars were reserved for
ernor tried to remove it from the Daoist abbey where it had
the emperor, the middle three for his ministers, and the
been ever since the time of Xu Sun, Xu appeared to the gov-
lower three for gentry and commoners. The upper three al-
ernor in a dream and told him his life was in danger. The
tars had, respectively, 3,600, 2,400, and 1,200 stellar seats,
governor returned the bell and went to burn incense and
corresponding to the Grand Offerings of All Heaven (Pu-
confess his fault in the abbey, but his sin was too grave to
tian), the Entire Heaven (Zhoutian), and Net Heaven (luo-
be pardoned and he died in battle soon afterward.
tian). Perfect expression of the hierarchical universalism
Another tale recounts how a mysterious visitor, later ru-
common to both Daoist and imperial ideology, this system
mored to have been Zhang Daoling himself, visited the
was adopted as the universal norm in the year 1009 by the
Heavenly Master of the eighteenth generation and repaired
emperor Zhenzong (r. 998–1023). It was to remain in offi-
the sword used by the first Heavenly Master to “punish and
cial use throughout the Yuan (1279–1368) and perhaps
control gods and demons.” The sword had been in the fami-
ly, adds Du, for twenty-one generations. Elsewhere in the
A 1,200-seat version, based in part on an official edition
same book, in introducing the story of a man who was re-
of Daoist ritual promulgated under Huizong (r. 1101–
leased from hell because he was wearing a register transmitted
1126), has been preserved by Lü Taigu in his Daomen ding-
to him in the year 868 by the nineteenth-generation Heaven-
zhi (The Daoist system normalized) of 1201: starting from
ly Master, Du notes that, until the thirteenth-generation de-
the highest celestial and stellar divinities, the list descends—
scendant of Zhang Daoling, the registers transmitted to the
by way of the celestial officials linked to the texts of the Three
faithful had been made of wood, but “because they were
Caverns, the perfect lords and immortals of Daoist history
being transmitted on such a vast scale, the thirteenth Heav-
and geography, the vast bureaucracy of the Three Officers,
enly Master could not make them in sufficient numbers and
and all the governors of hell—to the humblest gods of the
so started using paper and silk instead.”
soil and agents of the time cycle. Among the Daoist sites for
Du no doubt owed his knowledge of such events to his
whose lords a seat is reserved are the Five Sacred Peaks, the
own master, Ying Yijie (810–894), who, at the age of eigh-
various “cave-heaven” paradises, and the twenty-four gover-
teen, had gone to Longhu Shan (Dragon-tiger Mountain) in
nances; famous Daoists mentioned include Zhang Daoling,
Jiangxi to be initiated by the eighteenth Heavenly Master.
Xu Sun, Lu Xiujing, Du Guangting, various patriarchs of the
Much later accounts claim that Zhang Sheng, the fourth-
Shangqing lineage, Tan Zuxiao, Jao Tongtian, Zhongli
generation descendant of Zhang Daoling, had been the first
Quan, and Lü Dongpin.
to take up residence on Mount Longhu. The first contempo-
The last two named are semi-legendary Daoist immor-
rary trace of a Zhang family in southern China dates to 504,
tals who came to be revered together as the patrons of an im-
when according to a stele, the twelfth-generation descendant
portant school of neidan (internal elixir alchemy) first heard
lived in an abbey in what is now Jiangsu. In the mid-eighth
of in the eleventh century. Dan zixiao (fl. 930) and Jao
century Sima Chengzhen mentions a Zhang living on
Tongtian (fl. 994) were the co-founders of the Tianhsin
Mount Longhu. The next reliable witness is Du Guangting.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

It is therefore impossible to ascertain whether the Zhang
trayed by their hagiographers as ascetics and, in some cases,
family, which apparently lived on this mountain in unbro-
eccentrics. Qiu Changchun (1148–1227) lived for seven
ken succession from at least the mid-eighth century until
years in a cave. Hao Datong (1140–1212) spent six years
1949, was indeed descended from the first Heavenly Master.
under a stone bridge neither moving nor speaking and eating
only when people offered him something. For nine years
What is certain is that, from Du Guangting’s time on,
Wang Chui (1142–1217) spent his nights in a cave standing
the lineage grew steadily more important in Chinese religious
on one foot so as not to fall asleep. Wang is also depicted
life. Already in 1015, the emperor Zhenzong (r. 997–1023)
as a wandering exorcist and healer (herbal medicine was one
recognized its hereditary rights. By 1097 Mount Longhu had
of the arts that Wang Zhe insisted “those who study the Way
won official recognition as an authorized center for initiation
must master”).
into Daoist practice, along with Mount Mao (Jiangsu) for
the Shangqing tradition and Mount Gezao (Jiangxi) for the
The reputations of the Seven Real Persons (qizhen), as
Lingbao. The thirtieth Heavenly Master (1092–1126)
Wang’s disciples came to be known, soon made the move-
played a prominent role at the court under Huizong, and his
ment of Integral Perfection a force to deal with. It attracted
reputation for magical powers was already celebrated in a
lay followers from all levels of society, including the gentry
contemporary novel. Full consecration came in the thirty-
class, to which most of the seven and Wang Zhe had be-
sixth generation, to Zhang Zongyan (d. 1291): invited to the
longed. Their following seems to have been particularly large
capital by the emperor Shizu (r. 1260–1295) in 1277, he was
among women. The emperor Shizong (r. 1161–1190) sum-
commissioned to perform a Grand Offering of the Entire
moned Wang Chui in 1187, questioned him about the
Heaven (2,400 divinities) in the Changchun Gong (Palace
methods for “preserving life and ruling the country,” and
of Eternal Spring). Shortly thereafter, he was appointed head
constructed for him the Xiuzhen Guan (Abbey for the Culti-
of all Daoists in southern China. The emperor Chengzong
vation of Perfection). In 1197 Wang was involved, together
(r. 1295–1308) decreed in 1295 that Heavenly Master texts
with the Zhengi Daoist Sun Mingdao, in the celebration of
for the Offering be used throughout the empire. Finally,
a Grand Offering of the Entire Heaven in the Tianchang
under the first Ming emperor, Taizu (r. 1368–1399), the
Guan (Abbey of Celestial Longevity) in the capital. In 1202
Heavenly Masters were put in charge of all Daoist affairs.
the emperor Zhangzong (r. 1190–1208) ordered Wang to
perform an Offering in the Palace of Grand Purity in Laozi’s
During the Yuan dynasty the control of Daoism in the
North was entrusted to the successive leaders of the Quanz-
hen (“integral perfection”) order. One of three major Daoist
But it was Qiu Changchun’s three-year westward trek
movements to emerge in the North during the twelfth centu-
to meet Chinggis Khan in Central Asia that assured the
ry, when that part of China was ruled by the foreign Jurchen
order’s future, for when Qiu returned to China in 1223, he
Jin dynasty (1115–1234), it alone was destined to survive be-
did so armed with decrees granting tax and labor exemption
yond the Yuan. Its founder, Wang Zhe (1112–1170), a na-
to himself and his disciples and control over “all those in the
tive of the same village in Shaanxi as Zhongli Quan, had wit-
world who leave their families” to him. The result was the
nessed, at the age of eighteen, the takeover of his native
rapid growth of the Integral Perfection order and the start
province by the invading Jurchen. He nonetheless served for
of another round of confrontrations with the Buddhists.
a time in the military before deciding to abandon both his
When Qiu died, the Tianchang Abbey was renamed the
career and his family. In 1160, after a period of living in re-
Abbey of Eternal Spring (Changchun Guan), in Qiu’s
clusion in Liujiang village, not far from Tower Abbey, two
honor, and his disciples inherited his position. One of them,
mysterious encounters with Daoist immortals led him to dig
Li Zhichang (1193–1273), abbot between 1238 and 1256,
a grave, to which he gave the name “tomb of the living dead,”
precipitated the crisis with the Buddhists by printing and dis-
and to live in it for three years; having built a thatched hut,
tributing the Laozi bashii huatu (Pictures of the eighty-one
he lived next to it for another four. In 1167 he suddenly
transformations of Laozi). One of these transformations, of
burned down his hut and left for Shandong to begin prosely-
course, was that into the Buddha. The Buddhists protested
tizing. According to Wang’s hagiographers, the three immor-
and also accused the Daoists of appropriating their temples.
tals who appeared to him were Zhongli Quan, Lü Dongpin,
Debates were held in 1255, 1258 (the burning of the offend-
and Liu Haichan, all of whom Wang refers to in his writings
ing books was ordered, but not carried out), and 1281
as his teachers.
(Zhang Zongyan also participated in this debate). After the
last confrontation, the Daoist canon was ordered de-
Wishing to shock people into enlightenment, which
stroyed—an order carried out, at least in part, and the Quan-
necessarily entailed a complete break of the sort he had made
zhen order went into a partial eclipse until the end of Shizu’s
from his own family and career, Wang’s methods were ap-
reign. It was replaced at the court by the Heavenly Masters
parently uncompromising and even violent. In this manner
and their ambassadors.
he selected seven disciples, including one separated couple,
to carry on his work. He also established five sanjiao hui
Strictly speaking, Integral Perfection Daoism taught
(“assemblies of the three teachings”) before dying while on
nothing new. It was a reform movement that sought, in the
his way back to his home in the west. His disciples are por-
tradition of Daoist universalism, to synthesize the best in the
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

Three Teachings. Like Chan Buddhism, which Wang Zhe
The temples of the Eastern Peak (Dongyue Miao), on
apparently knew fairly well, it preached celibacy and “sitting
the contrary, were without exception run by Orthodox Unity
in meditation” in order to control the “apelike mind and the
Daoists. According to an inscription written by one Zhao
horselike will”; as in neo-Confucianism, perfect authenticity
Shiyan in 1328 and set up on the grounds of the Temple of
was prized as the ultimate goal of self-cultivation. But it was
the Eastern Peak in Beijing, such temples “first become wide-
eminently Daoist in insisting that both one’s “nature” (xing)
spread in the middle of the Song dynasty.” By the Yuan
and one’s “life force” (ming) had to be nurtured, and in hav-
dynasty they were to be found in every town of any size, and
ing recourse for the latter to the usual panoply of physiologi-
mediums and their Daoist masters worked in them side by
cal practices. Quanzhen masters were also frequently re-
side, the former to contact the souls of the dead and the latter
nowned adepts of the martial arts, and Wang Zhe himself
to save them, for the Eastern Peak, the abode of the dead al-
must have practiced internal alchemy inasmuch as his divine
ready in Han times, was associated at once with the tribunals
teachers were its patrons.
of hell and the hope of immortality. Veritable nerve centers
of the traditional Chinese religious system, the temples of the
Zhongli Quan and Lü Dongpin, especially the latter,
Eastern Peak seem to have been singled out for destruction
appear frequently to convert and save people in a number of
by the Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution (1966–
Yuan operas (zaju) of clearly Quanzhen inspiration. A tem-
ple on the presumed site of Lü Dongpin’s house was convert-
ed into a Quanzhen abbey toward the end of the Jin dynasty
It is not known when the original Daoist community
and then, after the abbey had burned down in 1244, rebuilt
organized by the Heavenly Masters disappeared. As early as
on a vast scale between 1247 and 1358. The three surviving
the third century, leaders of the community were complain-
halls of the resulting Yonglo Gong (Palace of Eternal Joy) are
ing that libationers were increasingly self-appointed or at
dedicated, respectively, to the Three Pure Ones, Lü Dong-
least not appointed by the hierarchy. The office of libationer,
pin, and Wang Zhe. The magnificent murals of the latter
moreover, seems very early on to have become a hereditary
two halls tell the stories of Lü and Wang and of Wang’s con-
one. It is nonetheless fairly certain that laypersons continued
version by Lü. The murals of the first hall portray many of
to practice the initiatory rites of sexual union as late as the
the same divinities as were listed in Lü Taigo’s list of 1201:
mid-Tang, and Heavenly Master “congregations” must
they are all “going in audience before the Origin” (chaoyuan),
therefore have continued to exist. But by the mid-Song,
that is, before the Three Pure Ones. The other great surviv-
when the Heavenly Masters themselves began once again to
ing monument of Daoist history, the fabulous complex of
play a political role, it was as hierarchs not, as in the time
abbeys and palaces on Mount Wu-tang (Hubei), built by the
of Zhang Lu, of an organized lay community, but of all Or-
Ming emperor Chengzu in honor of Pei-ti (Emperor of the
thodox Unity priests. Over the centuries, laypersons of
North), divine patron of the exorcistic and martial arts, was
means continued to make the pilgrimage to Dragon-Tiger
also a Quanzhen center. Reopened in 1982, it has since been
Mountain in order to be invested before death with a “regis-
recognized by the UNESCO World Heritage Fund. The
ter of immortality,” but the main function of the Daoist
Tower Abbey was first taken over by the Quanzhen order in
“pope” was the transmission of registers to priests. By the
1236, when disciples of Qiu Changchun rebuilt it.
1920s and 1930s even the number of such registers had
dropped off to from one to three hundred a year, and it was
LATER DEVELOPMENTS. Both the site of Lü Dongpin’s
estimated that only one percent of Zhengi priests actually ap-
house and Mount Wu-tang were important pilgrimage cen-
plied for such a register.
ters from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries on. As such,
they reveal an important aspect of Daoism’s role in Chinese
This situation was in part due to the fact that the foreign
society in those centuries: Daoists occupied and ran impor-
Qing dynasty had terminated the special relationship be-
tant cult centers and their temples. In particular, the Daoists,
tween the ruling house and the Heavenly Masters. During
together with the Buddhists, inhabited the many sacred
the Ming dynasty, by contrast, emperors were constantly in-
mountains of China and took care of the pilgrims who came
viting the Heavenly Master to the capital to perform Offer-
to them. Several of the more important pilgrimage centers
ings, the compilation of the Daozang (Daoist canon) was en-
also developed networks of “branch offices”—local centers
trusted to the Heavenly Masters, and several emperors even
where the lay-person who lacked the means or the motiva-
arranged high marriages for what had in effect become their
tion to make a long pilgrimage could nonetheless worship
spiritual counterpart: the emperor controlled the (Confu-
the divinity of his choice. On the Daoist side, the most nu-
cian) administration; the Heavenly Master had final authori-
merous temples of this kind were those dedicated to Lü
ty over all gods and demons. He was, in other words, not
Dongpin, the Emperor of the North, and the Emperor of the
only the nominal head of all Daoist priests, but also the over-
Eastern Peak. The first two were centers for the practice of
seer of all local cults. Throughout the Ming period, the
divination by selection of slips, which were then interpreted
Heavenly Master continued to be associated with imperial
by an attendant. The halls dedicated to Lü Dongpin in most
campaigns against heterodox cults. At the same time, local
Quanzhen abbeys served simultaneously as temples for the
Orthodox Unity priests were “infiltrating” local temples—of
local populace.
the Eastern Peak, of the City God (Chenghuang Miao), of
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

the third-century patriot and general Guan Yü (Guanti
enly Master Daoism may be found in Anna Seidel’s “Das
Miao)—and performing Offerings for the consecration of
neue Testament des Dao: Lao Tzu und die Entstehung der
temples dedicated to gods who, although not “Daoist,” had
daoistiszhen Religion am Ende der Han-Zeit,” Saeculum 27
been officially invested by imperially promulgated titles in-
(1978): 147–172, and Rolf A. Stein’s “Remarques sur les
scribed in the “canon of sacrifices.” The collective ceremo-
mouvements du daoïsme politico-religieux au deuxième siè-
nies of initiation of original Daoism seem to have survived
cle ap. J.-C.,” T’oung pao 50 (1963): 1–78. On Daoist rejec-
only among tribal peoples such as the Yao: there, ordination
tion of “heterodox cults,” see Rolf A. Stein’s “Religious Dao-
ism and Popular Religion from the Second to the Seventh
remains a prerequisite for salvation and is therefore extended
Centuries,” in Facets of Daoism, edited by Holmes Welch and
to the entire community.
Anna Seidel (New Haven, 1979), pp. 53–81. On Daoist
The number of Daoist monks—mostly of the Quanz-
messianism, see Anna Seidel’s “The Image of the Perfect
hen order since the Yuan dynasty—never approached that
Ruler in Early Daoist Messianism: Laozi and Li Hung,” His-
of lay Daoist priests (or Buddhist monks). The monks none-
tory of Religions 9 (November 1969 and February 1970):
theless played an important part in shaping Daoist history
216–247, and Christine Mollier’s Une apocalypse taoïste du
from the fifth century on. Not only did their leaders have
Ve siècle: Le livre des Incantations divines des grottes abyssales
privileged relations with emperors, at least until 1281, they
(Paris, 1990). On the early history of zhurch-state relations
and the development of Daoist sanction of imperial power,
also regularly exchanged visits and poems with the members
see Anna Seidel’s “Imperial Treasures and Daoist Sacra-
of the gentry class from which many of them came. Wang
ments: Daoist Roots in the Apocrypha,” in Tantric and Dao-
Zhe’s first convert and eventual successor, for example, Ma
ist Studies in Honour of R. A. Stein, edited by Michel Strick-
Yü (1123–1183), was known locally as Ma panzhou, Ma
mann (Brussels, 1983), vol. 2, pp. 291–371, and Richard B.
“half-the-prefecture,” because of his extensive land holdings.
Mather’s “Kou Qianzhi and the Daoist Theocracy at the
Also, it was these Daoists who controlled the network of offi-
Northern Wei Court, 425–451,” in Facets of Daoism,
cial abbeys first created in the Tang dynasty.
pp. 103–122. My Wushang biyao: Somme daoïste du sixième
(Paris, 1981) describes the ideological content of Daoist
At the beginning of the Qing dynasty, the White Cloud
universalism under the Northern Zhou dynasty. For the so-
Abbey of Beijing, originally built around the grave of Qiu
ciological background and early history of Shangqing Dao-
Changchun became the center of a reinvigorated, imperially
ism, see Michel Strickmann’s “The Mao-shan Revelations:
recognized Quanzhen lineage. In the 1940s it still had at least
Daoism and the Aristocracy,” T’oung pao 63 (1977): 1–64.
nominal control of twenty-three such abbeys throughout the
Isabelle Robinet’s Méditation daoïste (Paris, 1979) and La
country. Qiu’s birthday on the nineteenth day of the first
révélation du Shangqing dans l’histoire du daoïsme, 2 vols
lunar month was one of Beijing’s biggest festivals. The only
(Paris, 1984), gives thorough surveys of Shangqing practices
complete copy of the Ming-dynasty Daoist canon to survive
and their prehistory.
to the present is that of the same White Cloud Abbey. It was
For the Tang dynasty, the best introduction is Timothy Barrett’s
only natural, therefore, that it was selected by the govern-
Daoism under the T’ang: Religion and Empire During the Gol-
ment in the 1950s as the seat of the National Daoist Associa-
den Age of Chinese History (London, 1996). Charles David
tion. Among the major abbeys that have been restored since
Benn’s “Daoism as Ideology in the Reign of Emperor Xuan-
the government began, in the early 1980s, to allow and even
zung (712–755)” (Ph.D. diss., University of Michigan,
encourage the restoration of religious buildings, many are on
1977) gives a detailed study of the period up to the mid-
the 1940s list of twenty-three, and all reopened abbeys send
Tang. On the pivotal figure Du Guangting, Franciscus Ver-
their best novices to Beijing for a six-month training period.
ellen’s Du Guangting (850–933): taoïste de cour à la fin de la
Gradually, however Zhengi Daoists have joined the hitherto
Chine médiévale (Paris, 1989) gives an exemplary study of the
Quanzhen-dominated national association, and they now
intertwining of religious and political history. On Huizong,
perform rituals in their temples as in the past.
the “emperor as Daoist god,” see Michel Strickmann’s “The
Longest Daoist Scripture,” History of Religions 17 (February-
SEE ALSO Du Guangting; Jiao; Kou Qianzhi; Laozi; Liang
May 1978): 331–354. Procédés secrets du Joyau magique. Tr-
Wudi; Lu Xiujing; Millenarianism, article on Chinese Mille-
aité d’alchimie daoïste du onzième siècle, edited and translated
narian Movements; Priesthood, article on Daoist Priesthood;
by Farzeen Baldrian-Hussein (Paris, 1984) is a translation
Sima Chengzhen; Taiping; Wang Zhe; Worship and Devo-
and study of the main text on internal alchemy in the
tional Life, article on Daoist Devotional Life; Zhang Daol-
Zhongli Quan/Lü Dongpin tradition.
ing; Zhang Jue; Zhang Lu; Zhenren.
A special issue of The Journal of Chinese Religions (no. 29, 2001),
edited by Vincent Goossaert and Paul Katz, is entirely devot-
ed to “New Perspectives on Quanzhen Taoism.” The Yongle
For good general surveys of early Daoism see Daoism Handbook,
Palace Murals (Beijing, 1985) gives beautiful reproductions
ed. Livia Kohn (Leiden, 2000): Barbara Hendrischke, “Early
of the Yonglo murals. An excellent study is provided by Paul
Daoist Movements” (chap. 6); Peter Nickerson, “The South-
R. Katz in Images of the Immortal: The Cult of Lü Dongbin
ern Celestial Masters” (chap. 10); Livia Kohn, “The North-
at the Palace of Eternal Joy (Honolulu, 1999). David
ern Celestial Masters” (chap. 11); Charles Benn, “Daoist Or-
Hawkes’s “Quanzhen Plays and Quanzhen Masters,” Bulle-
dination and Zhai Rituals” (chap. 12). Excellent
tin de l’École Francaise d’Extrême-Orient 69 (1981): 153–170,
introductions to the ideological content of pre-Tang Heav-
is a delightful introduction to the subjects named.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

On the legislation governing official abbeys, see Werner Eich-
vention. The former minister of education and renowned
horn’s Beitrag zur rechtlizhen Stellung des Buddhismus und
bibliophile Fu Zengxiang (1872–1950) was instrumental in
Daoismus im Song-Staat: Übersetzung der Sektion “Daoismus
convincing President Xu Shichang (1855–1939) of the
und Buddhismus” aus dem Qing-Yuan T’iao-Fa Shih-Lei (Lei-
scholarly value of the Daozang and to underwrite its publica-
den, 1968) and J. J. M. de Groot’s Sectarianism and Religious
tion by the Commercial Press of Shanghai. The copy that
Persecution in China, vol. 7 (Amsterdam, 1903), chap. 3.
was selected for photographic reproduction in the 1920s and
Excellent introductions to Daoism from the Song through the
that has since been reprinted in at least three modern editions
Qing may be found in Livia Kohn, ed., Daoism Handbook
was the wood-block concertina canon housed in the Baiyun
(Leiden, 2000): Lowell Skar, “Ritual Movements, Deity
Guan (White Cloud Abbey) of Beijing, the central Daoist
Cults, and the Transformation of Daoism in Song and Yuan
seminary of the People’s Republic of China. It is thought
Times” (chap. 15); Lowell Skar and Fabrizio Pregadio,
“Inner Alchemy (Neidan)” (chap. 16); Pierre-Henry de
that this copy of the canon was largely derived from the 1445
Bruyn “Daoism in the Ming (1368–1644)” (chap. 20);
printing, apart from the lacunae reconstituted in 1845.
Monica Esposito, “Daoism in the Qing (1644–1911)”
History of compilation. Among the earliest inventories
(chap. 21). New light on the role of Tantrism in transform-
ing Daoism’s relationship with popular religion may be
of Daoist writings are those recorded in the bibliographic
found in Edward L. Davis, Society and the Supernatural in
monograph of Ban Gu’s (32–92) Han shu (History of the
Song China (Honolulu, 2001).
Han) and Ge Hong’s (283–343) Baopuzi. It was not until
the late fifth century, well after the establishment of the
On Daoism among the Yao, see Jacques Lemoine’s richly illustrat-
ed Yao Ceremonial Paintings (Atlantic Highlands, N.J.,
Shangqing and Lingbao scriptural traditions, that a single,
1982). On Daoism as it functions in modern Chinese soci-
comprehensive catalogue of Daoist texts was attempted. Lu
ety, see my Daoist Ritual in Chinese Society and History (New
Xiujing (406–477), principal codifier of the Lingbao corpus,
York, 1987) and Kenneth Dean, Taoist Ritual and Popular
undertook the task on the order of Song Mingdi (r. 465–
Cults of Southeast China (Princeton, 1993).
472). The Sandong jingshu mulu (An index to the scriptural
writings of the three caverns), which Lu presented to the em-
Revised Bibliography
peror in 471, was said to list over twelve hundred juan
(scrolls or chapters), ranging from scriptures and pharmaceu-
tical works to talismanic diagrams. Nearly three centuries
later, Tang Xuanzong (r. 712–756), confident that he was
the descendant of Laozi, issued a decree dispatching his en-
Compared to Buddhism, the literature of Daoist traditions
voys throughout the empire in search of all existing Daoist
remains largely unexplored. Large-scale study in this area was
writings. The collection that followed was given the title San-
greatly enhanced in 1926 with the appearance of the first
dong qionggang (Exquisite compendium of the three caverns)
widely accessible reprint of the Daozang, or Daoist canon,
and reportedly included around thirty-seven hundred or
which, at 1120 fascicles, is the largest repository of Daoist
fifty-seven hundred juan. It was the first canon from which
literature ever compiled. Research on Daoism prior to that
multiple copies were to be transcribed for distribution to
time was, with few exceptions, generally confined to studies
Daoist temples. But not long after Xuanzong officially au-
of texts such as the Laozi and Zhuangzi that are widely avail-
thorized this undertaking in 748, the imperial libraries of the
able in editions outside the canon. For the most part, the
capitals of Chang’an and Luoyang were destroyed during the
West has also had its understanding of the Daoist legacy
An Lushan and Shi Siming rebellions, and much of the San-
shaped by what has been summarized from the writings on
dong qionggang was apparently lost.
the subject by Buddhist polemicists and unsympathetic Chi-
nese literati. The one-sided view of Daoist traditions that
Subsequent compilations were attempted upon the
such limitations promote is easily amended when the re-
command of various Song emperors, who similarly viewed
sources of the Daozang are taken into account, together with
their mandate as part of a larger Daoist dispensation. Song
subsidiary compilations and pertinent collections of epigra-
Zhenzong (r. 998–1022) assigned his trusted adviser Wang
phy and manuscripts. The social and historical context of
Qinruo (962–1025) the task of preparing a new catalogue
much of this material has only recently come under intensive
of Daoist texts in the imperial archives. By 1016 an assistant
scrutiny. Continued research on the Daoist literary heritage
draftsman named Zhang Junfang (fl. 1008–1029) was put
is likely to challenge many long-held perceptions about the
in charge of a staff of Daoist priests to make copies of a new
nature of religious traditions in Chinese society.
canon for distribution to major temples. The Da Song tian-
gong baozang
(Precious canon of the celestial palace of the
THE DAOZANG. Before 1926, very few copies of the Daoist
great sung; 4,565 juan) that resulted was the first definitive
canon were available outside of those kept in the temple ar-
edition of what has come simply to be called the Daozang.
chives of China. The state traditionally sponsored both the
compilation and distribution of the Daozang. While it can-
A century later Song Huizong (r. 1101–1125) initiated
not be said that the newly founded Republic of China was
an even more ambitious program for the compilation and
a patron of Daoism, the reprinting of the canon between
dissemination of a new Daoist canon. In 1114 he issued an
1923 and 1926 came about only through government sub-
edict ordering all local officials, clergy, and laity to submit
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

whatever Daoist texts they had to the capital of Kaifeng. A
classified according to the “Three Caverns” (sandong). This
number of Daoist priests answered his call to help with the
tripart division became a fundamental organizational feature
collation of the incoming literature. Their work culminated
of the Daozang. Although there has been a tendency in the
in the Zhenghe wanshou Daozang (Daoist canon of the lon-
past to equate these three compartments of texts with
gevity of the Zhenghe reign), the first canon to be printed.
the “Three Receptacles” (sanzang) of the Buddhist canon, the
The blocks for nearly fifty-four hundred juan were cut some-
closer parallel is actually the Buddhist triya¯na or sansheng
time around 1118 to 1120. It is not known how many copies
(“three vehicles”). Rather than being representative of three
of the Daozang were subsequently made and there is also
genres of literature such as the Su¯tra, Vinaya, and Abhidhar-
some question as to how much was lost upon the Jurchen
ma of the Three Receptacles, the Three Caverns reflect three
takeover in 1127. But it appears that at least some blocks sur-
distinct revelatory traditions. And like the Three Vehicles,
vived, for in 1188 it is reported that Jin Shizong (r. 1161–
the Three Caverns are viewed as a ranking of textual legacies.
1189) commanded their removal from Kaifeng to the Tian-
The Dongzhen section evolved around the Shangqing (Su-
chang Guan (Abbey of Celestial Perpetuity) in the central
preme Clarity) scriptures, the Dongxuan around the Lingbao
capital of the Jurchen empire, the predecessor to the Baiyun
(Numinous Treasure), and the Dongshen around the San
Guan in Beijing. His grandson and successor, Jin Zhangzong
huang (Three Sovereigns). Since this categorization gives pri-
(r. 1190–1208), had the temple enlarged in 1190 and then
macy to the Shangqing traditions, it is assumed that it was
appointed two imperial academicians to assist the abbot in
devised well before Lu Xiujing compiled his catalogue, per-
reediting the canon. With the carving of additional blocks
haps by the end of the fourth or beginning of the fifth centu-
two years later, the Da Jin xuandu baozang (Precious canon
ry. There is less certainty about the origins of the Four Sup-
of the arcane metropolis of the great Chin) totaled over sixty-
plements that follow the Three Caverns, what are known as
four hundred juan.
the Taixuan, Taiping, Taiqing, and Zhengyi components of
In 1215 the capital of the Jurchen fell into the hands
the canon. The term ssu-fu (“four supplements”) does not
of the Mongols and it is not known how much of the en-
seem to date before the turn of the sixth century. The first
larged canon of the Jin escaped destruction. But by 1237
three have commonly been regarded as individual appendices
work on a new edition was undertaken, sponsored this time
to the Three Caverns, but in fact they appear to have been
by the local administration of Shanxi province. Two Quanz-
organized around very specific literary collections. Central to
hen masters, Song Defang (1183–1247) and his disciple Qin
the Tai-xuan division is the Dao de jing. Likewise, the Tai-
Zhi’an (1188–1244), oversaw a staff in the hundreds. The
ping jing (Scripture on the grand pacification), the Taiqing
Xuandu baozang (Precious canon of the arcane metropolis),
(Grand Purity) legacy of alchemical writings, and the
completed in 1244, was apparently the largest ever, compris-
Zhengyi (Authentic unity), or Celestial Master heritage lie
ing altogether seven thousand juan. Over a hundred copies
at the heart of the Taiping, Taiqing, and Zhengyi subdivi-
were said to have been made, but in 1281 Khubilai Khan de-
sions. It may be that these four supplements were inspired
creed that all texts and printing blocks of the Daozang be
by demands to establish a more cohesive body of Daoist liter-
burnt, save the Dao de jing. Fragments of the 1244 canon
ature vis-à-vis the rapidly developing corpus of Chinese Bud-
were nonetheless spared and, together with what remained
dhist writings. Although the preeminence of the Shangqing
of the Jurchen and Song canons, came to serve as the founda-
revelations was apparently never in question, it seems that
tion of the Ming Daozang.
by the sixth century there was more awareness of the diversity
of inspiration from which they arose. Liturgical texts of the
The canon currently in print is based on the compila-
Tang dynasty, moreover, seem to suggest that the arrange-
tion completed between 1444 and 1445 and a supplement
ment of the canon corresponds to descending ranks of ordi-
dating to 1607. Ming Chengzu (r. 1402–1424) initiated the
nation, from the top level of Dongzhen down to the first step
project in 1406 by appointing the forty-third Celestial Mas-
of the Zhengyi initiation.
ter, Zhang Yuchu (1361–1410), as compiler-in-chief. But
the final version of the Da Ming Daozang jing (Scriptures of
Whatever the underlying significance of the organiza-
the Daoist canon of the great Ming) was actually completed
tion of the Daozang, accretions over the centuries have result-
under the guidance of Shao Yizheng, a prominent Daoist
ed in a less than systematic presentation of texts. Each of the
master at the court of Ming Yingzong (r. 1436–1449). The
Three Caverns is subdivided into twelve sections: (1) original
fiftieth Celestial Master, Zhang Guoxiang (d. 1611), super-
revelations, (2) divine talismans, (3) exegeses, (4) sacred dia-
vised the preparation of a 240-juan supplement to the 5,318
grams, (5) histories and genealogies, (6) codes of conduct,
juan of this edition. It is known as the Xu Daozang (Supple-
(7) ceremonial protocols, (8) prescriptive rituals, (9) special
mentary Daoist canon) of the Wanli reign (1573–1619),
techniques (i.e., alchemical, geomantic, numerological), (10)
whereas the fifteenth-century core is sometimes referred to
hagiography, (11) hymnody, and (12) memorial communi-
as the Zhengtong Daozang or Daoist canon of the Zhengtong
cations. The distribution of texts is not always in keeping
reign (1436–1449).
with either the major headings or these subheadings. No cat-
egorical distinctions are applied to the Four Supplements
Organizational divisions. As the title of Lu Xiujing’s
and the Xu Daozang, the contents of which are as diverse as
catalogue of 471 suggests, Daoist writings were traditionally
the Three Caverns.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

Facets of research. Nearly half of the volumes in the
commanders on high could be summoned only by those
canon either bear dates after 1126 or can be directly linked
privy to their names and capable of infusing talismanic com-
to new scriptural traditions developing after the Northern
munications with their vitality. Countless texts, including
Song dynasty. Moreover, the prefaces of at least sixty titles
even Ge Hong’s Baopuzi, purport to preserve the apotropaic
in the Daozang indicate that they circulated in printed edi-
talismans of the Celestial Masters. The manipulation of such
tions prior to their incorporation into the canon. Prefaces
talismans was and still is thought to keep spectral forces at
and colophons, however, are not always reliable guides to the
bay. Throughout the centuries the codifiers of later revelato-
history of a text. Fictive lineages are often invoked in order
ry and ritual writings have never forgotten the ultimate heri-
to establish the historical antiquity of newly codified writ-
tage of the Tianshi Dao as a healing cult. Many anthologies
ings. It is not unusual to find, for example, the provenance
of ritual are based precisely on the understanding that the ul-
of a text traced directly to the founder of the Tianshi Dao
timate mission of their founders was to convey hope in the
(Way of the Celestial Masters), Zhang Daoling (fl. 142 CE).
salvation of humankind from all forms of suffering.
An even larger number of texts are simply presented as the
word of divine authority. The names of the deities cited often
Salvation was also the message behind one of the earliest
prove critical to the identification of a text vis-à-vis estab-
scriptures recorded in the canon, the Taiping jing (Scripture
lished scriptural traditions. Other internal dating features
on the grand pacification). An early version of a text by this
that help clarify the historical and social origins of a compila-
title was apparently promoted during the Western Han in
tion include reign titles, datable place names and official ti-
support of a faction that sought to influence the direction
tles, as well as the titles of canonization granted by imperial
of the ruling house through its expertise in the interpretation
decree to various patriarchs and apotheosized cultic figures.
of cosmological omens. What circulates as the Taiping jing
The language itself, particularly the use of specialized termi-
can be traced in part to another faction that arose during the
nology, also helps determine the setting in which a text arose.
Eastern Han on the Shandong Peninsula. Because of the
The terminus a quo or terminus ad quem of a work can like-
text’s link with Zhang Jue, leader of the Yellow Turban peas-
wise be determined with the help of a number of inventories
ant rebellion, and the fall of the Han empire, the Taiping jing
of Daoist texts.
fell out of favor for several generations. It was not until the
sixth century that a new, and much larger, edition of 170
Contents. The range of literature in the canon is as di-
juan appeared, portions of which are preserved in the canon
verse as the beliefs and practices associated with Daoism
as well as in Dunhuang manuscripts. This edition, the prove-
since the Han dynasty. Much research to date has concen-
nance of which can be traced to the Shangqing axis mundi
trated on the scientific significance of Daoist alchemical and
of Maoshan (in present-day Jiangsu), seems to retain many
pharmaceutical works. Aside from the early Shangqing and
of the major themes promoted in the Han dynasty works.
Lingbao scriptural traditions, little has been reported on the
The text was generally regarded as the omen of a more pros-
textual legacy of Daoist revelatory and cultic inspiration. The
perous era. While there is difficulty in distinguishing the sec-
Daozang, furthermore, has yet to be fully appreciated as a
ond-century text from later accretions, it appears that one
valuable repository of belles-lettres in its own right. The fol-
consistent feature was the hint of an apocalypse should the
lowing survey highlights a few of the texts in the canon with
divine teachings recorded within not be put into effect. The
enduring literary and religious interest.
sixth-century editors enlarged upon this theme by interpolat-
ing references to the promise of deliverance by a messianic
Revelation and ritual. As a work ostensibly transmitted
figure sacred to Shangqing, Housheng Jun, or the Sage-lord
from master to disciple, the Dao de jing or Laozi has long
to Come. Overall, however, the Taiping jing stresses the im-
been regarded as a revelation in itself. The writings that Laozi
portance of creating a utopian society in the present, one in
reportedly delivered to the gatekeeper Yin Xi on his journey
which the political, social, and economic welfare of all could
west have served as the inspiration for centuries of instruc-
be assured upon the recitation of the scripture and the keep-
tion on the attainment of the Dao. To the Celestial Masters,
ing of behavioral precepts in accordance with the will of the
the Dao de jing seems to have functioned foremost as a code
heavens above. This ideal of equity is tempered in part by
of behavior for young initiates. It is thought that the Xiang’er
instructions on techniques for prolonging life, a pastime in
commentary on the Laozi (Xiang’er zhu) discovered at Dun-
which only a select few could indulge.
huang was compiled by one of the first, if not the first, patri-
arch of the Celestial Masters. The commentary extrapolates
The common denominator between the practices pre-
not only rules of conduct but also techniques of meditative
scribed for attaining longevity in the Taiping jing and in the
practice from the text and is the only substantial writing asso-
Shangqing scriptures is a large body of macrobiotic literature
ciated with the early Celestial Masters to survive. The apo-
that is traditionally associated with the fangshi or technocrats
theosis of Laozi, that is, Taishang Laojun, or Lord Lao the
of Chinese society. The titles of many of these works are re-
Most High, who appeared before the founder Zhang Daol-
corded in early hagiographies. Central to these guides on the
ing was said to have revealed not scriptures but the sacred
pursuit of a life everlasting is the ability to gain communion
registers and talismans of divine guardians. Both were essen-
with the gods residing within one’s own body as well as with
tial to the demonifuge mission of the Tianshi Dao. Divine
those on high. One of the earliest and more provocative in-
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

struction manuals on gaining communication with the cor-
began ascribing the origin of some twenty-seven Lingbao
poreal hierarchy is the Huangting jing (Scripture of the Yellow
scriptures to his grand-uncle Ge Xuan (164–244). This set
Court). The innate ambiguities of this lengthy verse com-
of sacred writings actually owes its inspiration to not only the
posed in heptasyllabic meter were apparently thought to be
centuries-old arcana of southern Chinese religious practice
at least partially resolved upon repeated recitation. A revised
and the more recent Shangqing innovations, but also to the
and less arcane version of the Huangting jing was reportedly
Maha¯ya¯na Buddhist traditions of the Nanjing area. The mes-
among those texts conveyed to Yang Xi (b. 330), the prime
sage of Lingbao, as epitomized in the Duren jing (Scripture
recipient of the Shangqing revelations during the years 364
on the salvation of mankind), was that all could ultimately
to 370. The most comprehensive record of Shangqing beliefs
be released from the cycle of suffering and ascend to the ce-
and practices was made over a century later by the eminent
lestial realm by adhering to the teachings of the Yuanshi
Daoist master Tao Hongjing (456–536). The Zhengao (Dec-
Tianzun, or Celestial Worthy of Primordial Commence-
larations of the perfected) that he edited is largely intended
ment. The foremost contribution of the Lingbao tradition
to be a verbatim account of the instructions given Yang dur-
was in fact a whole program of liturgical services to be per-
ing the visits of divine transcendents. Central to the expecta-
formed on behalf of the living and dead. Equally significant
tions of those promoting the new dispensation of Shangqing
was the articulation of a code of behavior to be followed by
was the imminent descent of a messiah who could replace
the faithful in their struggle to escape the bonds of the mun-
the disorder of their age with order. The eschatological sce-
dane realm. As with the Shangqing tradition, a systematic
nario for the advent of a savior by the name of Li Hong is
presentation of the Lingbao corpus came some time after the
set forth in the Shangqing housheng daojun lieji (Annals of the
original revelations. What is preserved in the canon from this
Lord of the Tao, the sage-to-come of Shangqing). The vision
syncretic development is due to the efforts of Lu Xiujing, the
of Li Hong’s epiphany continued to inspire a number of
compiler of the first known catalogue of Daoist writings.
messianic movements as reflected, for example, in the Dongy-
uan shenzhou jing
(A scripture of spirit spells from the cav-
Expansion on the Lingbao rituals continued for centu-
erned abyss), a composite work dating from the fifth and
ries, as is reflected, for example, in the Wushang huanglu
sixth centuries that has its analogues in the newly compiled
dazhai licheng yi (Protocols on the establishment of the great
dha¯ran:¯ı su¯tras of that era.
Zhai retreats of the Yellow Register), a compilation based on
the writings of Lu, as well as two major Tang liturgists,
The Shangqing visionaries worked not only toward the
Zhang Wanfu (fl. 711) and Du Guangting (850–933), and
restoration of terrestrial order but also toward their own pro-
the Song Daoist masters Liu Yongguang (1134–1206) and
motion into the ranks of the divine. The methods by which
Jiang Shuyu (1156–1217). Du Guangting was by far the
their eschatological hopes could be realized ranged from the
most prolific Tang liturgist, for in addition to editing a num-
rigid control of diet to stringent respiratory exercises and ex-
ber of Lingbao codes, he also compiled the protocols for vari-
perimentation with pharmaceutical compounds. But the
main sustenance for adepts pursuing such a regimen were the
ous ordination rituals, including those marking the bestowal
vital forces of the sun, moon, and stars. It was thought that
of the Dao de jing and the divine registers of Shangqing and
the regular and concentrated absorption of these powerful
Zhengyi. He issued, moreover, a series of ritual texts associat-
sources of radiance would lead ultimately to one’s cosmic
ed with the Scripture of Spirit Spells, as well as with the archa-
transmigration. Feeding on the illumination of astral bodies
ic practice of casting propitiatory prayers inscribed on metal
is among the most fundamental techniques of the Daoist
or wood into caves and streams. The diversity of Du’s contri-
master (central to his private meditative sessions as well as
butions reflects in general the trend of his age toward a con-
his liturgical performances) and is by and large a technique
solidation and systematization of diverse ritual practices in
of visualization, the skill of which is the concern of many
which the Daoist priesthood was engaged.
manuals predating the Shangqing revelations. Those texts in
The editorial enterprises of the Tang dynasty soon yield-
which the ultimate goal specified is ascent to the celestial
ed to a new wave of scriptural innovation during the Song
realm of Taiqing are commonly regarded as part of a Taiqing
dynasty. The creation of more innovative ritual traditions
scriptural tradition, the origins of which remain unclear. The
was apparently stimulated in large part by Song Huizong’s
teachings of these Taiqing manuals were incorporated into
patronage of Daoist masters. Among the most influential at
both the Shangqing revelations and the slightly later scriptur-
his court was Lin Lingsu (1076–1120) of Wenzhou (in pres-
al tradition known as Lingbao. The prolongation of life
ent-day Zhejiang). Lin convinced the emperor that he was
through the ingestion of astral essences is, for example, a les-
the incarnation of Changsheng Dadi (Great Sovereign of
son in the Taishang Lingbao wufu xu (Prolegomena on the
Long Life) and, as such, was responsible for the salvation of
five talismans of the numinous treasure of the most high),
all under his domain. To this end, Lin drew on the soterio-
a text originally dating to the late third century and recycled
logical features of the Lingbao legacy and the messianic ex-
by spokesmen for the Lingbao tradition in the late fourth
pectations of the Shangqing tradition to devise what he
called the Shenxiao (Divine Empyrean) dispensation. The
The major recipient of the Lingbao revelations was Ge
Gaoshang shenxiao zongshi shoujing shi (Formulary for the
Chaofu, a nephew of Ge Hong. In the 390s, Ge Chaofu
transmission of scriptures according to the patriarchs of
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the exalted divine empyrean) is a record of the evolution of
raphies of a number of divine transcendents with whom he
the Shenxiao scriptures from their origins as cosmic script to
was in communication, but only a few survive. Some of his
their bestowal upon the Grand Sovereign himself. Large ritu-
contacts are memorialized in the Liexian zhuan (Lives of the
al compendia were eventually compiled based on this new
immortals), traditionally attributed to Liu Xiang (77–6 BCE)
scriptural heritage, with the Duren jing uniformly established
but apparently based on several centuries of oral tradition
as the central focus. Among the largest of such corpora are
surrounding various local cults.
those associated with the teachings of Ning Benli (1101–
1181), also of Wenzhou, namely the Shangqing Lingbao dafa
More extensive hagiographic accounts were compiled
(Great rites of the Shangqing Lingbao legacy), compiled by
during the Tang dynasty, most notably by Du Guangting.
a disciple named Wang Qizhen, and the Lingbao lingjiao jidu
One work of his, the Yongcheng jixian lu (A record of the
jinshu (Golden writings on salvation, based on the instruc-
transcendents assembled at Yongcheng), is entirely devoted
tions conveyed by the Lingbao legacy), edited originally by
to the lives of divine women, starting with an account of the
Lin Weifu (1239–1302) of Wenzhou.
cosmic evolution of the primordial goddess who gave birth
to the historical Laozi. Du Guangting was above all a good
Another scriptural tradition codified during Song Hui-
storyteller and, as his Daojiao lingyan ji (An account of the
zong’s reign was the Tianxin Zhengfa (Authentic Rites of the
divine efficacy of the teachings of the Dao) and Shenxian
Celestial Heart), the origins of which were traced to the dis-
ganyu zhuan (A record of inspirational encounters with di-
covery in 994 of sacred texts at Huagai Shan (in present-day
vine transcendents) further attest, he was most interested in
Jiangxi). One of the Daoist masters working on the compila-
recording accounts of sacred phenomena. Such works, to-
tion of a new canon at Kaifeng, Yuan Miaozong (fl. 1086–
gether with Buddhist miracle tales, contributed significantly
1116) sought to make amends for a lack of talismanic healing
to the development of the narrative in Chinese literary
rituals by compiling the Taishang zhuguo jiumin zongzhen
biyao (Secret essentials of the most high on assembling the
perfected for the relief of the state and delivery of the people).
By far the most comprehensive hagiographic work in
At the heart of this corpus are the instructions on the applica-
the canon is one compiled by a specialist in Thunder Ritual
tion of the three talismans central to the Tianxin legacy:
named Zhao Daoyi (fl. 1297–1307), the Lishi zhenxian tidao
San’guang (Three Sources of Radiance; i.e., sun, moon, and
tongjian (A Comprehensive mirror on successive generations
stars); Zhenwu (Perfected Martial Lord); and Tiangang (Ce-
of perfected transcendents and those who embody the Dao).
lestial Mainstay; i.e., Ursa Major).
Largely derivative of earlier works, this text preserves much
material that has otherwise been lost. Among more special-
The best testimony to the diversity of healing ritual
ized works is the Xuanpin lu (A record of the ranks of the
from the twelfth to the fourteenth centuries is the Daofa hui-
sublime) edited by a prominent literatus named Zhang Yu
yuan (A corpus of Daoist rites), compiled after 1356. The
(1283–c. 1356). The author, who was himself temporarily
most voluminous work in the canon, this corpus is devoted
in residence at Maoshan, dedicates a large portion of his text
largely to what are known as leifa (“thunder rites”), based on
to the Shangqing heritage, from Yang Xi to the twenty-fifth
the practice of quelling demonic forces through the absorp-
patriarch Liu Hunkang (1035–1108). A separate account of
tion and projection of thunder pneumas. The opening chap-
the Zhengyi patriarchs, the Han Tianshi shijia (A genealogy
ters of the work are derived from one of the later Thunder
of the Celestial Masters since the Han), is a composite work,
Ritual traditions called Qingwei (Purified Tenuity), codified
based on editions dating from the fourteenth to the sixteenth
in part by Zhao Yizhen (d. 1382). Many rituals that evoke
century. The imprimatur of the fiftieth Celestial Master,
the authority of the Zhengyi tradition appear to reflect the
Zhang Guoxiang (d. 1611), is found not only in this text but
influence of the thirty-ninth Celestial Master Zhang Sicheng
in the latest hagiography of the canon, the Soushen ji (In
(d. 1343). Most outstanding of all are the ritual instructions
search of the sacred), edited by Luo Maodeng (fl. 1593–
to be enacted on behalf of various astral deities and cultic fig-
1598). Also a composite work, this text opens with the biog-
ures such as the martial lord Guan Yu (d. 219). These thera-
raphies of Confucius, S´a¯kyamuni, and Taishang Laojun.
peutic rites were prescribed for a wide range of ailments,
Most predominate thereafter are the accounts of apotheo-
from conjunctivitis to manifestations of possessing spirits.
sized cultic figures from south of the Yangtze. The dates of
Many attest, moreover, to a long tradition of collaboration
birth and ascension recorded in many of these entries give
between Daoist masters and spirit-mediums.
some indication as to the annual cycle of festival days autho-
rized by church and state.
Hagiography. Not unlike Confucian and Buddhist bio-
graphical accounts, Daoist hagiographies were compiled pri-
Several hagiographic works honor the Quanzhen heri-
marily as commemorative works, usually with a didactic
tage founded by Wang Zhe (1113–1170). One of the earliest
message in mind. The lives of transcendents were generally
is the Jinlian zhengzong ji (An account of the true lineage of
intended to instruct on the paths by which one’s divine desti-
the golden lotus), completed in 1241 by Qin Zhi’an, editor
ny might be realized, as well as on the rewards inherent in
of the 1244 canon. This work was apparently lost in the book
venerating those who gained entry into the celestial ranks.
burning of 1281 and only recovered in the Ming. It was un-
The visionary Yang Xi was reportedly conveyed the full biog-
known to the compilers of a similar hagiography, the Jinlian
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

zhengzong xianyuan xiangzhuan (An illustrated biographical
abbot of the Yulong Guan, an abbey established in Jiangxi
account of the transcendent origins of the true lineage of the
at the putative site of Xu’s ascension. Liu’s disciple Huang
golden lotus). Liu Zhixuan and Xie Xichan completed this
Yuanji (1270–1324) edited the Jingming zhong xiao quanshu
text in 1326, according to what written documents and stone
(A comprehensive compilation on the Jingming tradition of
inscriptions remained. They differ with Qin in attributing
loyalty and filiality), the biographies of which exemplify the
the origins of Quanzhen teachings to Laozi, but there is una-
role of Xu’s disciples as guarantors of political stability. The
nimity on the following four patriarchs: Donghua Dijun
traditional attributes of zhong (loyalty) and xiao (filiality) are
(Sovereign Lord of Eastern Florescence), Zhongli Quan, Lü
reinterpreted in this context as metaphors for submission to
Yan (b. 798?), and Liu Cao (fl. 1050). Central to both works
authority and the suppression of rebellion. Shrines to Xu are
are the hagiographies of the founder Wang and his seven dis-
still maintained in Taiwan today and, even more remarkably,
ciples, known to the tradition as the Seven Perfected Ones
the Yulong Abbey is officially designated as a historical mon-
(qi zhen) of Quanzhen: Ma Yu (1123–1183), Tan Chuduan
ument worthy of preservation.
(1123–1185), Liu Chuxuan (1147–1203), Qiu Chuji
(1148–1227), Wang Chuyi (1142–1217), Hao Datong
A number of other hagiographic accounts testify to the
(1140–1212), and the single matriarch, Sun Bu’er (1119–
popularity of local cults at various sacred mountain sites, in-
cluding Lu Shan on the northern border of Jiangxi, once a
popular missionary resort, and Huagai Shan, the source of
Among hagiographies for individual Quanzhen patri-
the Tianxin revelations. Most well-known perhaps is the
archs is an anonymous compilation in tribute to Wang
guardian of Wudang Shan (in present-day Hubei), referred
Chuyi, the Tixuan zhenren xianyi lu (A record of the marvels
to as Xuanwu (Dark Martial Lord) or Zhenwu (Perfected
manifested by the perfected who embodies sublimity). The
Martial Lord). How early this deity associated with the north
nineteen episodes in this text offer a rare view of the thera-
was enshrined in China is not known, but well over three
peutic mission of Quanzhen masters, in the roles of healer,
hundred shrines are established in his name on Taiwan
rain-maker, and demon queller. Even more well-known is
today. Xuanwu’s role as defender of the Song empire against
the patriarch Qiu Chuji, whose journey into Central Asia for
the Western Xia invasions and other threats is commemorat-
an audience with Chinggis Khan is commemorated in the
ed in the Xuantian shangdi qisheng lu (An account of the reve-
Changchun zhenren xiyou ji (The journey to the west of the
lations conveyed to the sages by the supreme sovereign of the
perfected Changchun). Qiu’s disciple Li Zhichang (1193–
dark celestial realm). A composite work, it is derived largely
1256) completed this work in 1228, following Qiu’s death
from the textual counterpart to the wall paintings of a shrine
at the Tianchang Abbey in Beijing. The transcendent Lü
dedicated to the Martial Lord by Song Renzong in 1057. A
Yan, conventionally credited with Wang Zhe’s enlighten-
later anthology reveals in turn that many literati of the thir-
ment, is the subject of a lengthy chronicle by Miao Shanshi
teenth and fourteenth centuries promoted Xuanwu as the
(fl. 1324), the Chunyang dijun shenhua miaotong ji (Annals
special guardian of the Mongol empire. Similarly, the Da
of the wondrous communications and divine transforma-
Ming Xuantian shangdi ruiying tulu (An illustrated account
tions of the sovereign lord Chunyang). As with similar narra-
of the auspicious responses of the supreme sovereign of the
tive sequences, this text appears to have evolved from centu-
dark celestial realm during the great Ming) is a collection of
ries of storytelling traditions that also found their expression
encomia dating from 1405 to 1418 that honor the deity’s
in temple wall paintings.
role in establishing the mandate of the Ming.
Most numerous of the hagiographies focused on local
Topography, epigraphy, and historiography. The cho-
cults are those dedicated to Xu Sun (239–292?), whose career
rography of sacred space, in the heavens above, on the earth
as a healer and subduer of malevolent dragons was estab-
below, and in the subterranean caverns beyond, is the subject
lished from Sichuan east to the central Jiangxi River valleys.
of many works in the Daoist canon. Certainly among the
The earliest text to survive intact is the Xiaodao Wu Xu er
most renowned of such texts from antiquity is the Wuyue
zhenjun zhuan (A Hagiography of Wu and Xu, the two per-
zhenxing tu (Mappings of the true form of the Five Sacred
fected lords of the filial way). Xu’s association in this account
Peaks), talismanic variations of which were introduced into
with Wu Meng, the legendary exemplar of filiality, attests to
the Lingbao textual corpus. The apotropaic value of these di-
an early ritual tradition that evolved around his cult in
agrams was recognized by Ge Hong and inspired Daoist lit-
Jiangxi, apparently a Tang variation on Lingbao liturgy. The
urgists for many generations later. The Five Sacred Peaks also
Yulong ji (An anthology of jade beneficence), a later work
serve as a crucial point of reference in Du Guangting’s Dong-
compiled by the well-known specialist in Thunder Rites, Bai
tian fudi yuedu mingshan ji (A record of the celebrated moun-
Yuchan (fl. 1209–1224), reveals the extent to which Song
tains, conduits, sacred peaks, munificent terrains, and cav-
Huizong patronized this cult as a symbol of unity in the face
erned heavens). In addition to mapping out the wuyue (“five
of the Jurchen invasions. Veneration of Xu Sun eventually
[sacred] peaks,” e.g., Tai Shan in the east, Heng Shan in the
led to the development of a nationalistic cult known as the
south, Song Shan in the center, Hua Shan in the west, and
Jingming Dao (Way of Purity and Perspicacity), generally
Heng Shan in the north) and the interlocking network of
thought to have been founded by Liu Yu (1257–1308), an
ranges, Du identifies ten major and thirty-six supplementary
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

dongtian or subterranean chambers, as well as seventy-two
It later served as a haven for refugees during the fall of the
sites traversed by various transcendents and the twenty-four
Mongol regime and by 1367 went up in flames.
original parishes established by Zhang Daoling in western
To the sacred font of the Shangqing revelations is dedi-
cated the largest topography in the canon, the Maoshan zhi
Larger descriptive topographies date from the Song to
(A treatise on Maoshan). The forty-fifth Shangqing patri-
Ming. The canon preserves individual records for three of the
arch, Liu Dabin (fl. 1317–1328), completed this text in
Five Sacred Peaks. That compiled in commemoration of the
1328, at a time when the site enjoyed a renewal of royal pa-
Sacred Peak of the East, Dai shi (A history of Dai), was pres-
tronage. His account opens with a comprehensive collection
ented to Ming Shenzong (r. 1573–1619) on New Year’s Day
of imperial communications concerning Maoshan, dating
of 1587. In compiling this work the editor, Zha Zhilong (fl.
from 1 BCE to 1319 CE. Other outstanding features include
1554–1586), sought to reinforce the ritual obligations of the
the hagiographies of the three eponymous transcendents sur-
court toward Tai Shan, devoting large portions of the text
named Mao as well as the ranks of Shangqing patriarchs and
to the history of imperial sacrifices and various temple com-
matriarchs, the history of various shrines and hermitages, an
pounds, as well as the supernatural phenomena witnessed at
anthology of stone inscriptions dating from 520 to 1314,
the site from 78 BCE to 1586.
and a large selection of prose and prosody sustaining the
sanctity of the region.
Earlier and less ambitious accounts are available for the
sacred peaks of the west and south. The Xiyue Huashan zhi
The Daozang also preserves a few works solely com-
(A treatise on Hua Shan, sacred peak of the West) is attribut-
prised of texts carved on stone. Most notable are the antholo-
ed to a Wang Chuyi, not to be confused with the Quanzhen
gies of epigraphy prepared on behalf of the Quanzhen heri-
patriarch of the same name. This text, derived in part from
tage. The largest is the Ganshui xianyuan lu (An account of
the Huashan ji (A record of Hua Shan) dating to the Tang,
the origins of transcendents at Ganshui) compiled by the
may in fact be the work of the author of an 1183 preface,
Quanzhen archivist Li Daoqian. The title refers to the Ganhe
Liu Dayong. Unlike the treatise on Tai Shan, there is little
Garrison (in present-day Shaanxi), where the founder Wang
discussion of ritual traditions in propitiation of the spirits
Zhe reportedly achieved enlightenment in 1159. Most nu-
embodied in the mountain. Instead, the compiler was far
merous are the tomb inscriptions commemorating worthies
more interested in recounting stories about supramundane
ranging from Wang Zhe to a contemporary of the editor.
forces and in identifying indigenous plants and minerals with
Another anthology, the Gongguan beizhi (Epigraphic memo-
magical properties.
rials of palaces and abbeys), is devoted largely to the early his-
tory of the Baiyun Guan in Beijing. One inscription marks
The Nanyue zongsheng ji (An anthology on the collective
the conclusion of a massive renovation of the Tianchang
highlights of the sacred peak of the south) is wholly devoted
Guan, as the earlier abbey was known, in 1179. Also includ-
to the history of Daoist sanctuaries on Heng Shan. The edi-
ed is the proclamation issued upon the completion of the Jin
tion of this text in the Daozang is an extract from a fuller ac-
canon at the Tianchang Guan in 1191.
count of sacred shrines, including Daoist, Buddhist, and
folk, that is printed in the Buddhist canon. Chen Tianfu (fl.
Zhu Xiangxian (fl. 1279–1308) of Maoshan is the edi-
1131–1163), who completed this text in 1163, relies in part
tor of two works commemorating the site where Laozi reput-
on the Nanyue xiaolu (A short account of the sacred peak of
edly left behind the Dao de jing in answer to the gatekeeper
the south) compiled by Li Chongzhao in 902. Of consider-
Yin Xi’s pleas for instruction. One is a set of hagiographic
able interest are Chen’s own contributions on the history of
inscriptions entitled Zhongnanshan shuojing tai lidai zhenxi-
rituals on behalf of the emperor’s longevity and national
an beiji (An epigraphic record of the successive generations
prosperity. As the inventory of canonizations reveals, Song
of perfected transcendents at the pavilion for the recitation
Huizong was a particularly avid patron of the shrines at
of scripture on Zhongnan Shan). Zhu composed these ac-
Heng Shan.
counts and had them inscribed on stone following a pilgrim-
age in 1279 to the Lou Guan (Tiered Abbey) established in
Five topographies in the canon celebrate mountain
honor of Yin Xi’s discipleship. He derived much of his data
ranges in Zhejiang, the most famous of which is Tiantai
from an earlier work compiled by Yin Wencao (d. 688), a
Shan. Central to the Tiantaishan zhi (A treatise on the
Daoist master who apparently regarded himself as a descen-
Tiantai Mountains) is the history of the Tongbo Abbey, lo-
dant of Yin Xi. The second work compiled by Zhu, the Gu
cated on a peak of that name. It was for centuries the most
Louguan ziyun yanqing ji (An anthology from the abundant
prominent temple compound in the Tiantai range. Built
felicity of purple clouds at the tiered abbey of antiquity), in-
originally for the Daoist master Sima Chengzhen (647–735),
cludes inscriptions on the history of the shrine dating from
the Tongbo Guan reportedly once housed one of the largest
625 to 1303.
collections of Daoist texts in the country. With the fall of
Kaifeng and the reestablishment of the Song mandate at
The historical works in the Daozang do not match the
Hangzhou, the temple became an even more important talis-
size and scope of those in the Buddhist canon. There are a
man of the state and was evidently at the height of its glory
large number of brief historical surveys embedded in various
in 1168, following thirty-seven years of construction activity.
texts, composed generally to establish the ultimate antiquity
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

and thus authority of a scriptural tradition. The earliest sepa-
the Void) and a lengthy essay arguing that divine transcen-
rately compiled history in the Daoist canon is the Lidai di-
dence can indeed be learned. The history of a second Tang
wang chongdao ji (A record of reverence for the Dao on the
anthology in the canon, the collected works of the renowned
part of sovereign rulers over successive generations) of Du
Du Guangting entitled Guangcheng ji (An anthology of
Guangting. The opening summary of the pre-Tang era is lit-
Guangcheng), is more obscure. It, too, is a valuable resource
tle more than a statistical analysis of the number of temples
on the ritual activities of Daoist masters whose reputations
established and Daoist masters ordained from one period of
made them favorites at court.
state patronage to the next. The discussions thereafter focus
on the role of Taishang Laojun as the ancestral guardian of
By far the most numerous of literary collections in the
the Tang, especially his defense of the empire during the up-
canon are those compiled after the Tang. A vast corpus, for
rising of Huang Chao (d. 884).
example, has evolved around the semi-legendary Lü Yan,
claimed as the patriarch of both the Quanzhen and Nanzong
The unifying feature of all later histories in the canon
(Southern Heritage) traditions. A substantial collection of
continues to be the providential manifestations of Lord Lao.
verse conventionally ascribed to him in truth probably dates
Prototypes of this historiographic approach include the early
no earlier than the thirteenth century. One anthology, the
writings on huahu (“converting the barbarians”) that were es-
Chunyang zhenren huncheng ji (An anthology of the perfected
sentially chronicles of Laozi’s incarnations as the supreme
on arising from turbulence), was prepared by He Zhiyuan,
preceptor of all peoples. To write a history of the faith was,
a disciple of Song Defang. He was among those assigned to
in other words, to write a hagiography of Lord Lao as the
work on the Canon of 1244, the opportunity of which no
messiah. This approach is exemplified in Jia Shanxiang’s (fl.
doubt led to this edition. What he claimed to be the product
1086) Youlong zhuan (Like unto a dragon), the title of which
of Lü’s divine inspiration appears instead to reflect the liter-
is drawn from Confucius’s putative characterization of Laozi
ary legacy of Wang Zhe and his disciples.
as recorded in the Shi ji (Records of the historian) of Sima
Over a half-dozen works alone purport to be the teach-
Qian (145–86 BCE). Jia concentrates on Lord Lao’s role as
ings and writings of founder Wang. A number of the texts
instructor to the ruling house and the history of the Taiqing
were compiled in direct tribute to Ma Yu’s discipleship
Gong (Palace of Grand Clarity, in present-day Luyi, Henan
under Wang. The master’s basic pedagogy was apparently to
province), the reputed birthplace of the “historical” Laozi.
recite a verse that would provoke a response from his devo-
Nearly a century later, Xie Shouhao (1134–1212), a
tees. Two works, the Chongyang jiaohua ji (An anthology on
prominent Daoist master at the site of the Xu Sun cult in
the proselytism of Chongyang) and the Chongyang fenli shi-
Jiangxi, presented an even more comprehensive chronicle to
hua ji (An anthology of Chongyang on the ten transforma-
Song Guangzong (r. 1190–1194). In compiling the Huny-
tions according to the sectioning of a pear), preserve hun-
uan shengji (A chronicle of the sage from the primordiality
dreds of these missives between Wang and Ma. The
of chaos), Xie sought to correct the inconsistencies in Jia’s
exchange began, according to legend, when Wang locked
account by drawing on a wider range of readings from the
himself up for one hundred days on the grounds of his hosts
sanjiao, or “three teachings” (i.e., Confucianism, Daoism,
Ma and wife Sun Bu’er and communicated with them mere-
and Buddhism). Xie’s work is an invaluable source of cita-
ly by submitting a gift of food, often a section of pear, ac-
tions from works no longer extant, such as the early chronicle
companied by instruction in verse. There is unfortunately no
on Lord Lao compiled by Yin Wencao. He is also particularly
comparable record of Sun’s responses, although late editions
attentive to the history of the compilation of the canon.
of her writings available outside the canon suggest that at
Among those who found Xie’s work indispensable was the
least a few considered her to have been equally literate.
hagiographer Zhao Daoyi.
Other texts in the canon reveal that Wang was also will-
ing to entertain the questions of his disciples. Records of such
the most informative sources on the beliefs and practices of
question-and-answer sessions, known as yulu or dialogic trea-
Daoist masters are their collected writings, editions of which
tises, were as popular with the Quanzhen masters as with
were commonly prepared by devotees. The prime example
their Chan Buddhist counterparts. A somewhat redundant
is of course Tao Hongjing’s assiduous collation of Yang Xi’s
example of this genre, the Chongyang shou Danyang erhshisi
revelatory verse. The writings of Wu Yun (d. 778), an or-
jue (Twenty-four lessons conveyed by Chongyang to Dany-
dained Zhengyi master often summoned by Tang Xuanzong,
ang), is composed of a series of questions and answers attri-
were brought together more expeditiously. According to a
buted to Ma and his master Wang. Among the lessons taught
preface by Quan Deyu (759–818), a scribe named Wang
is that the devotee should speak very little, control all emo-
Yan rescued what remained of the master’s writings and pres-
tions, and minimize anxiety and cravings. Further details on
ented them to the imperial archives. The edition in the
Wang’s instruction are found in the Chongyang lijiao shiwu
canon, the Zongxuan xiansheng wenji (A literary anthology
lun (Fifteen discourses on the teachings set forth by Chongy-
of Master Zongxuan) is that which a disciple Shao Yixuan
ang). Moderation in all things appears to be the central mes-
conveyed to Quan. Among Wu’s most well-known composi-
sage of this dialogue. According to the concluding statement
tions is a sequence of verse entitled Buxu ci (Lyrics on pacing
ascribed to Wang, departure from the mundane realm was
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

to be accomplished mentally, not physically. The closing
generations. Among those whose teachings expanded upon
simile, obviously borrowed from the Buddhist translator and
this legacy are Qiu’s successor Yin Zhiping (1169–1251),
exegete Kumarajiva, is that one’s body is like the root-stock
Liu’s disciple Yu Daoxian (1168–1232), and Hao’s disciple
of a lotus mired in mud, whereas one’s heart-mind is sus-
Wang Zhijin (1178–1263). Later syncretists for whom there
pended in space as the lotus blossom itself.
is ample record in the canon include Li Daochun (fl. 1290),
Miao Shanshi (fl. 1324), Wang Jie (fl. 1310), Chen Zhixu
The writings associated with Ma Yu are even more nu-
(fl. 1329–1336), Wang Weiyi (fl. 1294–1304), and Zhao
merous than those of his master. Aside from three works
Yizhen (d. 1382). Many of these figures drew equally from
based on exchanges with Wang, there are altogether six sepa-
the Quanzhen and Nanzong traditions. The fullest docu-
rate collections of prose and prosody printed under his name
mentation on the latter is to be found in late encyclopedic
in the canon. One compilation, the Dongxuan jinyu ji (An
anthologies of the Daozang.
anthology of the gold and jade of Dongxuan), includes a par-
ticularly revealing verse that exhorts Buddhist monks and
Encyclopedic anthologies. The earliest comprehensive
Daoist masters to come together in accord and do away with
encyclopedic work in the canon is the Wushang biyao (The
slander. Another work, the Jianwu ji (An anthology on grad-
essentials of unsurpassed arcana). Only two-thirds of the
ual enlightenment), features onomatopoeic verses that were
original one hundred juan survives of this anonymous com-
apparently designed to illustrate, as the title implies, that en-
pilation. Citations from a wide selection of texts are orga-
lightenment is a gradual process. A significant number of
nized under 288 headings, ranging from cosmology and sa-
Ma’s verses are expressly dedicated to female adepts, includ-
cred topography to the protocols for transmitting divine
ing his wife Sun. All men and women of the Dao, he urges,
scriptures and instructions on meditative practices. The ori-
would best bring under control their yima xinyuan, or “horse
gins of this text are revealed in a Buddhist, not Daoist, com-
of the will and monkey of the mind.”
pilation, namely the Xu gaoseng zhuan (Supplementary biog-
Qiu Chuji, the youngest disciple of Wang and eventual-
raphies of exalted monks) of Daoxuan (596–667), which
ly the most renowned, has comparably fewer writings to his
states that Zhou Wudi (r. 561–578) ordered its compilation
name in the canon. The Changchunzi Panxi ji (An anthology
following his pacification of the state of Northern Qi in 577.
of Changchunzi from the Pan tributary) preserves composi-
It is thought that work began on this vast anthology as early
tions dating both from Qiu’s seclusion in the upper reaches
as 574, when Wudi issued a decree establishing the Tongdao
of the Yellow River valley as well as from his later ritual activ-
Guan (Abbey of Communication with the Dao) as a symbol
ities at Qixia (in present-day Shandong). Among his verses
of the anticipated political and ideological reunification of
are commemorations of various jiao fetes over which he
the empire. The text is not only an invaluable resource for
had presided, personal communications to Jin Shizong
citations from the original Shangqing and Lingbao revela-
(r. 1161–1189), and instructions on meditative practices. In
tions, but also for the later codifications they inspired.
addition to Li Zhichang’s account of Qiu’s later years, the
Two smaller compendia were compiled a century later
Xuanfeng qinghui lu (A record of a felicitous convocation on
by a relatively unknown recluse named Wang Xuanhe (fl.
the sublime spirit of the Dao), ascribed to Yelü Chucai
683). The larger of the works, the Sandong zhunang (Pearl
(1189–1243), provides a record of the sermons delivered be-
bag of the three caverns) is organized under thirty-four cate-
fore his patron, Chinggis Khan.
gories dealing with various aspects of conduct befitting an
All but a fraction of the collected writings associated
adept and includes extracts from a number of texts on con-
with the other select members in Wang’s circle are lost. The
templative pursuits that are otherwise lost. The second cor-
single anthology of Tan Chuduan’s teachings in the canon
pus attributed to Wang is the Shangqing daolei shixiang (A
arose directly from the initiative of the junior patriarch Liu
categorical survey of the Dao of Shangqing), which special-
Chuxuan. Of the five anthologies attributed to Liu, only one
izes in citations dealing with six types of sacred quarters,
survives, although a dialogic treatise compiled by his disciples
from private retreats to the cosmic chambers of revealed liter-
reveals somewhat more about his career. Liu’s sayings, many
of which were inspired by lines in the Dao de jing, were re-
A much larger encyclopedic anthology, the Yunji qiqian
portedly so popular as to have become part of the local cul-
(Seven lots from the book-pack of the clouds), was compiled
ture of his circuit. The two paragons of filial piety, Wang
by Zhang Junfang, inspired apparently by his assignment to
Chuyi and Hao Datong, are remembered with one antholo-
oversee the copying of a new canon on the order of Song
gy each. The Yunguang ji (An anthology from Yunguang),
Zhenzong. Zhang states in his preface that his intention was
named for the cavern in which Wang secluded himself for
to prepare a reference work for the emperor’s personal use.
nine years, is a valuable supplement to the hagiographic
But since the Yunji qiqian was not completed until 1028 or
Xianyi lu. The one edition of Hao’s teachings to be preserved
1029, it was obviously presented to his successor Renzong
attests to his training as a diviner and abiding interest in the
(r. 1023–1053). The writings Zhang selected for this work
date from the earliest revelations to the first decades of the
The influence of the early Quanzhen patriarchs is easily
eleventh century. Recorded, for example, in the opening es-
measured by the volume of writings that emerged from later
says on cosmogony and scriptural transmission are unique
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

copies of the prefaces composed for the first catalogues of
only source available. Among the number of publications is-
Shangqing and Lingbao literature. Additional subheadings
sued during the Qing dynasty, the next largest corpus is the
include sacred topography, behavioral precepts, ritual purifi-
Daozang jiyao (An edition of essentials from Daoist canon).
cation, visualization techniques, and hagiography. Notably
The reedition of this work in 1906 includes 287 titles, com-
absent are any instructions on liturgical procedure, a subject
pared to nearly fifteen hundred in the canon. Over half of
that Zhang clearly considered to be beyond the scope of this
the titles are found in the Daozang as well, but this anthology
also contains works otherwise unknown, including tracts at-
tributed to Sun Bu’er and Liu Cao, as well as the writings
Two remarkable collections of writings treating “inner
of later syncretists such as Wu Shouyang (d. 1644).
alchemy” (neidan) appeared during the Southern Song peri-
od. The first in print was the Dao shu (Pivot of the Dao)
Perhaps one of the most neglected resources for Daoist
compiled by the bibliophile Zeng Cao (fl. 1131–1155).
literature is epigraphy. Aside from the few, mainly Quanz-
Among the rare texts Zeng records is the Baiwen pian (A
hen, collections in the canon, there is a wide range of stone
folio of one-hundred questions), based on a putative ex-
and bronze inscriptions pertinent to the history of the faith.
change between Lü Yan and his mentor, the late Han tran-
An anthology of epigraphy compiled by Wang Chang
scendent Zhongli Quan. The entire last chapter is devoted
(1725–1806), for example, includes a transcription of the
to the Lingbao pian (A folio on Lingbao), a variant edition
Taishang Laojun riyong miaojing (A wondrous scripture of
of the Lingbao bifa (Conclusive rites of Lingbao), which was
Lord Lao and most high for daily use) carved on stone in
also compiled as a tribute to this legendary discipleship. A
1352 at the Pavilion for the Recitation of Scriptures in Sh-
related theoretical work on the cultivation of the jindan
aanxi. A variant redaction of this text is found in the Daozang
(metallous enchymoma), the Zhong Lü chuandao ji (An An-
and, at 141 words, is among the shortest works in the canon.
thology on Zhong [li]’s transmission of the Dao to Lü), is
It is essentially a code of conduct based on many traditional
found in both the Dao shu and a later Song collectaneum of
Chinese attributes such as filiality. Study of epigraphic docu-
neidan literature, the Xiuzhen shishu (Ten writings on the
ments will soon be greatly facilitated by the imminent publi-
cultivation of perfection). This anonymously compiled an-
cation of a comprehensive anthology of inscriptions bearing
thology also includes many texts associated with the Nan-
on the history of Daoism, a project begun by Chen Yuan and
zong, or Southern Heritage, the “five patriarchs” (wuzu) of
now being completed by Chen Zhichao at the Chinese Acad-
which are: Liu Cao (d. ca. 1050), Zhang Boduan (d. 1082),
emy of Social Sciences in Beijing.
Shi Tai (d. 1158), Xue Zixian (d. 1191), and Chen Nan
Scriptures and related sacred writings found in various
(d. 1213). The establishment of this patriarchy appears to be
archives constitute another essential source of Daoist litera-
a rather late innovation inspired by the legacy of the Seven
ture. The Dunhuang manuscripts preserved in a number of
Perfected of Quanzhen. By the early fourteenth century a
libraries worldwide, for example, include texts that clarify the
number of texts began to assert that Liu conveyed the teach-
early history of several scriptural codifications. One such
ings of the venerable Zhongli Quan and Lü Yan to both
work, of which only a portion survives in the canon, is the
Wang Zhe in the north and Zhang Boduan in the south.
Benji jing (Scripture on the original juncture). Over seventy
Zhang Boduan is popularly regarded as the “founder”
fragments of this text are in the British and French archives
of Nanzong. His writings were initially viewed as treatises on
of Dunhuang manuscripts. One of the compilers is known
waidan, “exterior,” or laboratory, alchemy. More recent re-
to have taken part in debates before the court of Tang Gaozu
search suggests that they fall, rather, into the mainstream of
(r. 618–626) on the issue of whether the Buddha was a disci-
neidan literature. An edition of the major corpus attributed
ple of the Dao. The text itself, designed apparently in part
to him, the Wuzhen pian (Folios on the apprehension of per-
to support this theory, seems to have taken its inspiration
fection), is recorded in the Xiuzhen shishu, with a preface by
from discussions on the cosmogonic concept of pu¯rvakot:i
Zhang dating to 1075. The same anthology also includes
(Chin., benji) in the Madhyama¯gama and Sam:yukta¯gama,
variant editions of similar lyrical sequences ascribed to Shi
Chinese translations of which appeared in the fourth and
Tai, Xue Zixian, and Chen Nan. But by far the most domi-
fifth centuries. Parables in one section of the Benji jing,
nant in the Xiuzhen shishu are the writings of Chen’s putative
moreover, were evidently drawn from the Dharmapada. The
disciple, the renowned Thunder Ritual specialist Bai Yu-
text reached the height of its popularity during the reign of
chan. Nearly half of the text is devoted to a record of his in-
Tang Xuanzong, who ordered all Daoist priests not only to
structions on jindan and Thunder Ritual traditions, as well
copy it out but also to recite and lecture on it during official
as his liturgical activities in Fujian and his accounts of the
religious festivals. In short, the lessons within were thought
Xu Sun cult in central Jiangxi. It may be that the Xiuzhen
to lead to the salvation of the state as well as of the individual.
shishu was compiled by devotees of Bai, for the latest work
Later collections of manuscripts and rare blockprints
included is a set of texts on jindan by Xiao Tingzhi (fl. 1260),
also have much to reveal about the continuity and change
a second-generation disciple.
in Daoist traditions. Among published works is the Zhuang
OTHER SOURCES. While the Daozang is the most compre-
Lin xu Daozang (Supplementary Daoist canon of the Zhuang
hensive collection of Daoist literature, it is by no means the
and Lin clans) edited by Michael Saso, a collection of Daoist
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

works largely gathered from a Zhengyi fraternity in Xinzhu
Maspero, Henri. Le taoïsme et les religions chinoises. Paris, 1971.
of north Taiwan. These texts, as well as those recovered by
Translated by Frank A. Kierman, Jr., as Taoism and Chinese
Kristofer Schipper in the Tainan area of south Taiwan, sug-
Religion (Amherst, 1981). A collection of essays on the ori-
gest a remarkable continuum of Daoist liturgical practice. A
gins of Daoist practices, drawn largely from the early litera-
scripture dedicated to Tianfei (i.e., Mazu) in the Schipper
ture on various macrobiotic techniques.
Archives of Paris, for example, proves to be a variant of a text
Naundorf, Gert, et al., eds. Religion und Philosophie in Ostasien.
in the canon dating to 1409–1412. The manuscript version
Würzburg, 1985. Contributions include studies on neidan
conveys an image of this well-known Fujianese patroness of
and the Taiping jing.
seafarers that accommodates a folk vision of her as an avata¯ra
Needham, Joseph, and Lu Gwei-Djen. Science and Civilisation in
of Guanyin. Tianfei’s assimilation to this all-compassionate
China, vol. 5, pt. 5. Cambridge, U.K., 1983. A broad survey
bodhisattva is promoted in popular narratives on the life of
of instructions on neidan (physiological alchemy) and other
the goddess compiled during the late Ming dynasty. Just as
macrobiotic techniques in the Daoist canon and subsidiary
she continues to inspire poets, novelists, and even scriptwrit-
ers in this age, so, too, has much of the Daoist literature both
Robinet, Isabelle. Méditation taoïste. Paris, 1979. An introduction
in and outside the canon left its mark on centuries of Chinese
to early manuals on techniques of visualization such as the
Huangting jing.
belles-lettres. Further study of this literature can only disclose
how deeply the Daoist heritage pervades all aspects of Chi-
Robinet, Isabelle. La révélation du Shangging dans l’histoire du tao-
nese society.
ïsme. 2 vols. Paris, 1984. A comprehensive study of the ori-
gins and development of the Shangqing scriptural legacy.
SEE ALSO Alchemy, article on Chinese Alchemy; Du
Schipper, Kristofer. Le Fen-teng: Rituel taoïste. Paris, 1975. An an-
Guangting; Fangshi; Ge Hong; Laozi; Lu Xiujing; Millenar-
notated translation of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century
ianism, article on Chinese Millenarian Movements; Sima
Daoist ritual texts in illustration of a continuum of Lingbao
Chengzhen; Tao Hongjing; Wang Zhe; Xian; Zhang Dao-
liturgy since at least the Song dynasty.
ling; Zhang Jue.
Schipper, Kristofer. Le corps taoïste. Paris, 1982. An introduction
to Daoist beliefs and practices with a special emphasis on
teachings concerning the hierarchies of gods within and
Baldrian-Hussein, Farzeen. Procédés secrets au joyau magique:
Traité d’alchimie taoïste du onzième siècle. Paris, 1984. An in-
Strickmann, Michel. Le taoïsme du Mao Chan: Chronique d’une
vestigation into the textual history of the Lingbao bifa, with
révélation. Paris, 1981. On the social history of the Shang-
a full translation.
qing scriptural tradition, with special attention to its messi-
Boltz, Judith Magee. “In Homage to T’ien-fei.” Journal of the
anic eschatology.
American Oriental Society 106 (1986). A study of the Tianfei
Strickmann, Michel, ed. Tantric and Taoist Studies in Honour of
scripture in the canon, collated with manuscripts in the
R. A. Stein, vol. 2. Mélanges chinoise et bouddhique, vol. 21.
Schipper Archives.
Brussels, 1983. Includes studies on ritual investiture, the
Boltz, Judith Magee. A Survey of Taoist Literature, Tenth to Seven-
early Shangqing and Lingbao textual legacies, and a Shenxiao
teenth Centuries. Berkeley, 1987. An introduction to over
soteriological meditation technique.
two hundred titles in the Daoist canon from revelation and
Waley, Arthur, trans. The Travels of an Alchemist. London, 1931.
ritual to encyclopedic anthologies.
A study and translation of Changchun xiyou ji by Li Zhichang
Chavannes, Édouard. Le jet des dragons. Paris, 1916. A remarkable
(1193–1256), on the journey west of the Quanzhen patri-
study of the tradition of casting prayers inscribed on stone
arch Qiu Chuji (1148–1227).
or metal into caves and waterways, including an annotated
Welch, Holmes, and Anna Seidel, eds. Facets of Taoism. New
translation of a ritual manual compiled by Du Guangting
Haven, 1979. Includes studies on the origins of the Daozang,
the Taiping jing, and the Shangqing revelations.
Ch’en Kuo-fu. Tao-tsang yüan-liu k’ao (1949). 2d ed. Beijing,
Wu Chi-yu, ed. Pen-chi ching: Livre du terme originel. Paris, 1960.
1963. A pioneering work in the history of the Daoist canon.
Textual history of the early seventh-century Daoist scripture
Kandel, Barbara. Taiping jing: The Origin and Transmission of the
Benji jing, inspired in part by Chinese translations of
“Scripture on General Welfare”; The History of an Unofficial
Maha¯ya¯na texts.
Text. Hamburg, 1979. A brief study on the history of texts
Yoshioka Yoshitoyo. Do¯kyo¯ kyo¯ten shiron. Tokyo, 1952.
circulating under the title Taiping jing.
Lagerwey, John. Wu-shang pi-yao: somme taoïste du sixième siècle.
Paris, 1981. A detailed analysis of the organization and con-
tents of the sixth-century anthology of Daoist literature enti-
tled Wushang biyao.
Loon, Piet van der. Taoist Books in the Libraries of the Sung Period.
London, 1984. An analytic index to Daoist writings cited in
Although Daoism represents a tradition as ancient and as
private and official Song bibliographies dating from 945 to
rich as any other major religion, the serious study of this tra-
1345, with introductory essays on the history of these compi-
dition has been almost entirely a twentieth-century phenom-
lations and the Daoist canon.
enon and largely a phenomenon of the second half of the
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

twentieth century at that. The reasons for this are not far to
society), a slim volume published in Tokyo in 1948 by Kubo
seek. From its fourth and last printing in 1445 until its re-
Noritada, demonstrates, even after their return to Japan
production by photomechanical means in 1926, the Daoist
these scholars were concerned to relate their historical and
canon (Daozang), a compendium of over one thousand dif-
bibliographical research to the fuller picture of Chinese soci-
ferent works representing the full scope of the tradition, was
ety they had witnessed. Their numbers were also sufficient
a decidedly rare work, the jealously guarded possession of a
to found in 1950 the Japan Society of Taoistic Research
handful of monasteries. Until the twentieth century, more-
(Nippon Do¯kyo¯ Gakkai) and to start, the following year, the
over, few outsiders would have been inclined to persist in
publication of a journal, To¯ho¯ shu¯kyo¯, a serial still published
seeking them out. To the traditional Chinese scholar, raised
with an annual update on Daoist bibliography.
in the neo-Confucian belief that Buddhism and Daoism
alike were little more than gross superstition, there was little
In contrast, 1950 saw the publication in Paris of the
reason to take an interest in such literature.
posthumous writings on Daoism of the sole French scholar
to have followed up the pioneering work of Chavannes and
Although certain eighteenth- and nineteenth-century
Pelliot by carrying out research into materials in the Daoist
scholars made use of the Daoist canon to obtain good edi-
canon. Henri Maspero (1883–1945), like others of his gen-
tions of ancient philosophical or historical texts (which, as
eration, came to the study of Daoism not as a specialist but
in the case of the Mozi, were often not Daoist works but were
as a broad-ranging scholar. He had published in the fields
included in the canon for reasons unrelated to their con-
of Egyptology and Vietnamese studies and had produced a
tents), it was not until 1911 that a Chinese scholar lingered
Sinological masterpiece, a one-volume survey of preimperial
over the rest of the canon. This scholar was Liu Shipei, a fer-
China, before his research into the China of the latter Han
vent nationalist whose attitude toward tradition had been en-
period and thereafter brought him face to face with the Dao-
larged by the modern world to embrace a less orthodox range
ist religion. During the 1930s he applied himself to unravel-
of study.
ing the formative stages of the religion, working indepen-
dently of, but using similar methods to, his Japanese
By the time Liu published the results of his readings,
contemporaries (for example, comparing materials in the
non-Chinese scholars who had inherited the best of the tradi-
Daoist canon with the Dunhuang manuscripts and with
tional Chinese polymath’s zeal for knowledge (without the
Buddhist sources). Maspero perished at Buchenwald in 1945
polymath’s blind spot with regard to religion) had begun to
before he had published more than a portion of his findings.
show a lively interest in Daoism also. French Sinologists,
In his three-volume collected writings, compiled by Paul De-
such as Édouard Chavannes and Paul Pelliot, and Japanese,
miéville, his equally erudite literary executor, an entire vol-
such as Tsumaki Naoyoshi, came to Daoism out of a general
ume is devoted to Daoism. Maspero’s description of Daoism
interest in Chinese civilization, but also from societies where
remains a highly rewarding record of the first encounter be-
the study of religion was an accepted branch of learning.
tween a modern European mind and the full complexity of
Japan, in particular, had at an early stage accepted much of
this ancient religion.
China’s medieval culture, including the Buddhist faith, but
had not undergone a neo-Confucian rejection of this legacy
Sadly, Maspero had no students. Maspero’s great con-
to the same degree. Thus, learned Buddhists, such as Tokiwa
temporary in the study of Chinese religion, Marcel Granet,
Daijo¯, were already confronting the complex issue of the re-
more immediately influenced the experts on Chinese religion
lationship between Chinese Buddhism and Daoism in the
who rose to prominence in postwar Paris. Yet Granet was not
1920s. One of them, O
¯ fuchi Eshin, had even traveled abroad
unaware of the importance of Daoism, and the work of such
to investigate the millennium-old manuscripts of Daoist
men as Max Kaltenmark, Rolf Alfred Stein, and Michel Soy-
scriptures that had been discovered among other ancient ma-
mié helped maintain the primacy of Paris as the center of
terials at Dunhuang in Northwest China at the turn of the
Daoist studies in the Western world. Nor were these men,
for their part, unaware of the achievements of their Japanese
colleagues: Soymié established with Yoshioka in 1965 a sec-
The increased political role of Japan in China during the
ond Japanese journal devoted to Daoism, the Do¯kyo¯ kenkyu¯.
1930s also brought many Buddhist scholars to China. Some,
By this time a number of studies of Daoism had been pub-
such as Fukui Kojun, returned to Japan to pursue research
lished in Japan, and many points of controversy were hotly
in the Daoist canon, now available in its modern printing
debated. A new generation of European researchers specifi-
in academic libraries, while others, such as Yoshioka Yoshi-
cally interested in Daoism emerged, and the new publication
toyo, stayed longer to gain firsthand experience of Daoist
soon introduced the findings of Anna Seidel and K. M.
monastic life. Yoshioka’s 1941 Do¯kyo¯ no jittai (The actual
Schipper to a Japanese audience.
state of Daoism), published in Beijing, remains an invaluable
source on a mode of religious life now largely vanished. The
While the two major streams of Daoist studies were be-
expulsion of the Japanese from China after 1945 effectively
ginning to flow together, research in China remained almost
halted all such opportunities for fieldwork and even led to
as it had been in France in the 1930s, the domain of one lone
the loss of much material already painstakingly collected.
scholar. Since the reprinting of the Daoist canon, established
However, as Do¯kyo¯ to Chu¯goku shakai (Daoism and Chinese
specialists in the history of Chinese religion, such as Chen
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

Yinke and Chen Yuan, had devoted articles to aspects of
1979, at a third conference held in Switzerland, that the situ-
Daoist history, and one small volume attempting an account
ation in Beijing had changed sufficiently for Chen Guofu to
of the whole development of Daoism had been published,
participate. Daoist studies were thus finally able to achieve
partly on the basis of early Japanese research. But from 1949
true international status and to win a degree of recognition
onward the only aspects of Daoist studies to see publication
in Daoism’s native land.
were those connected with the history of peasant uprisings
The change of climate in the People’s Republic of China
or the history of science. In the former area the textual schol-
manifested itself in a number of other ways. The year 1979
ar Wang Ming produced in 1960 an excellent edition of the
also saw the first publication of a new academic periodical,
Taiping jing, a major Daoist scripture associated with the
Shijie zongjiao (World religion), marking the start of the offi-
Yellow Turban insurgents of the Han dynasty, but subse-
cially recognized study of religion in post-1949 China. Al-
quent discussion of the text by a number of academics tend-
though it was initially much concerned with the history of
ed not to focus on religious issues.
atheism, in the following year articles on Daoism were in-
In 1963 Chen Guofu, a historian of science and the
cluded. The first volume of an outline history of Chinese
“lone scholar” referred to above, managed to republish an ex-
Daoist thought, Zhongguo Daojiao sixiang shigang, and a new
panded version of an outstanding monograph, originally
textual study by Wang Ming also appeared at this time. By
published in 1949, on the formation of the Daoist canon.
1980 the Chinese Daoist Association was active once more.
Chen had initially undertaken his lengthy and painstaking
In 1981 a dictionary of religion (Zongjiao cedian) containing
research during the 1940s, when his interest in the history
a large number of entries on Daoism, was published. The
of Chinese alchemy led him to the question of the dating of
first dictionary of Daoism as such, the Daojiao dacidian by
Daoist texts on this subject. But especially in the 1963 edi-
Li Shuhuan, appeared in 1979 in Taiwan, but while Li’s sta-
tion of his Daozang yuanliu kao, he also included gleanings
tus as a Daoist priest contrasts markedly with that of the
on many other topics that had caught his eye in the course
Marxist compilers of the later volume, inasmuch as neither
of his readings. Other scholars, unable to claim to be further-
dictionary incorporated the findings of non-Chinese schol-
ing the study of science rather than religion, were less fortu-
ars, both fell well below the standard that could have been
nate. Man Wentong, who had published some worthwhile
achieved through international cooperation.
research on Daoist texts in the 1940s, saw his work confiscat-
Although Chinese scholarship on Daoism lagged be-
ed during the late 1950s; only a few further notes were pub-
hind that of France and Japan, the potential for development
lished posthumously in 1980. The Chinese Cultural Revolu-
was great. In the early 1980s Daoist priests appeared once
tion of the 1960s ended for a while the activities of the
again in China’s streets and marketplaces, showing that the
Zhongguo Daojiao Xiehui (the Chinese Daoist Association),
living tradition of the religion had not been cut off entirely
a group formed in 1957 but unable even then to achieve
by the Cultural Revolution and that scholars might still learn
much in either religious or academic terms.
from it firsthand. Furthermore, China’s bibliographic re-
Chen Guofu had begun his alchemical researches while
sources remained (and still remain) the envy of the outside
studying in the United States under Tenney L. Davis at the
world. One might mention, for example, the epigraphical
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and it was almost ex-
sources on Song Daoism used by the historian Chen Yuan,
clusively this scientific aspect of Daoism that had continued
besides those related to canonical literature. At this point in-
ternational work was already under way on a complete bibli-
to attract the attention of the English-speaking world—
ographic guide to the canon in its modern reprinted form.
apart, that is, from the perennial fascination with the Dao
Based in Paris under the direction of Schipper, it was spon-
de jing, reinvigorated for academics in the 1970s and 1990s
sored by the European Association for Chinese Studies and
by discoveries of early versions of its text. Thus, when the
involved scholars from European countries and beyond.
first international conference on Daoism met in Italy in
Even before publication of the guide, the project led to the
1968, two historians of science, Joseph Needham from Great
publication of concordances to important Daoist texts and
Britain and Nathan Sivin from the United States, joined
to an analysis by John Lagerwey of a sixth-century Daoist en-
with experts on religion such as Schipper and Seidel. No
cyclopedia, published by Lagerwey as the Wushang piyao
Chinese scholar attended, nor did any senior scholar from
(1981). It also indirectly stimulated a monograph by Piet van
Japan. This situation was rectified in 1972 at the next confer-
der Loon titled Taoist Works in the Libraries of the Sung Peri-
ence, which was held in Japan so a number of Japanese schol-
od (1984).
ars could attend, as did Hou Ching-lang, originally from
Taiwan but trained in Paris. Hou was by no means the first
In Japan, major collaborative ventures were preceded by
Chinese to have conducted research into Daoism there. In
publications reflecting the work of individual careers. First
1960 Wu Chi-yu had used the Dunhuang manuscripts to
Yoshioka and then Kubo produced histories of Daoism
compile an edition of an important Daoist scripture, the
aimed at general audiences. O
¯ fuchi Ninji completed a cata-
Benji jing. A few other Chinese scholars had by now pub-
log of all the Daoist manuscripts from Dunhuang with a
lished on Daoism in Hong Kong, Taiwan, or farther afield—
companion volume of photographs of every text. These two
Liu TsDun-yan in Australia, for instance. But it was not until
works were published as Tonko¯ Do¯kyo¯, respectively subtitled
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

Mokuroku-hen and Zuroku-hen, in Tokyo in 1978 and 1979.
in the late twentieth century and early twenty-first century
Collaborative ventures began when a volume on Daoism was
the trend toward the internationalization of Daoist studies
required for a series on the rich material of Dunhuang, and
has continued, even though the initial series of international
no fewer than ten writers (including Schipper) joined under
conferences has not been maintained. The steady revival and
the editorship of Yoshioka. Yoshioka died in 1979, but the
progress of academic life in the People’s Republic of China
volume, Tonko¯ to Chu¯goku Do¯kyo¯, eventually appeared in
saw the emergence of strong centers of research outside the
1983. It includes a sixty-two-page general bibliography of
Institute for the Study of World Religions in the China
Daoism based on material he had earlier collected. Yoshioka
Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing, which launched Shijie
had in a sense initiated cooperative scholarship in Japanese
zongjiao. Sichuan University in Chengdu, for example, has
Daoist studies somewhat earlier. A Festschrift in his honor,
since 1986 published a journal, Zongjiaoxue yanjiu (Religious
Do¯kyo¯ kenkyu¯ ronshu¯ (Collected essays in Daoist studies),
studies), which consistently carries articles on Daoism, and
drawing on the work of fifty-four Japanese and foreign con-
also completed publication between 1988 and 1995, under
tributors, was published in Tokyo in 1977.
the editorship of Qing Xitai, of the first comprehensive his-
In 1983 a comprehensive survey of Daoism involving
tory of Daoism up to the twentieth century, spread over four
the work of twenty-three scholars was published in Japan
volumes, a work now available in English translation. The
under the general title Do¯kyo¯. This was the first collaborative
Chinese Daoist Association, meanwhile, published not only
attempt at a full description of the religion in any language.
its own journal but also a major encyclopedic dictionary in
The three volumes of this survey, Do¯kyo¯ to wa nani ka?,
1994, a year before an even larger work of the same type from
Do¯kyo¯ no tenkai, and Do¯kyo¯ no dempo¯, are devoted respective-
the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, which had already
ly to a description of Daoism itself, an assessment of its im-
produced a comprehensive guide to the literature in the
portance in relation to other aspects of Chinese life and
canon in 1991. In some respects, publication on Daoism in
thought, and a survey of its spread beyond its Chinese ori-
China (notably the series Zangwai daoshu and its continua-
gins. The last volume also contains surveys of research in
tion, supplementing existing canonical collections, and espe-
Japan and elsewhere. The study of Daoism outside mainland
cially the republication of traditional works on self-
China became increasingly prominent, especially as it moved
cultivation) was assisted by the rapid rise of interest in qigong
from historical to anthropological research. Historical re-
in the late 1980s, though government worries about the im-
search has not, however, decreased in importance. Pioneer-
plications of the craze eventually led to its increasing regula-
ing works such as the Han Eguk Togyosa of Yi Nu¯ng-hwa, a
tion in the following decade, especially after 1999.
study of the history of Daoism published in Seoul, South
The stream of monographs and research aids produced
Korea, in 1959, have successors in the publications of Japa-
in Japan has increased to a flood, and more concise encyclo-
nese scholars concerned to reassess the impact of Daoist be-
pedic dictionaries drawing on a wider range of international
liefs on the history of their own culture. Of these, the sympo-
scholarship have been published in Japan. The French lan-
sium Do¯kyo¯ to kodai tenno¯sei, which appeared in Tokyo in
guage has remained important for scholarship in the field,
1978 under the editorship of Fukunaga Mitsuji, deals with
even though scholars who had initially published in French
an issue of no slight importance to the modern Japanese,
often choose to publish in English or see their work translat-
namely the possibility of Daoist influence on such a quint-
ed. The same holds true for the less conspicuous but not un-
essentially Japanese institution as the emperorship.
important tradition of Daoist studies in Germany. During
However, it is in the investigation of Daoism as prac-
the last decade of the twentieth century the study of Daoism
ticed nowadays outside mainland China that the greatest di-
in English at last came into its own. The only journal exclu-
versity of scholarly activity became apparent. Kubo, in his re-
sively dedicated to it, Taoist Resources, lasted less than a de-
search into Daoist beliefs associated with the hour gengshen,
cade (1988–1997) before being absorbed into the Journal of
has covered not only Japan but also Okinawa. Of the many
Chinese Religions, but this and other established periodicals
ethnographers and others concerned with recording Daoist
find much more room for contributions on Daoism. Stephen
practices in Taiwan, one scholar based on that island, Liu
Bokenkamp’s pioneering Early Daoist Scriptures initiated the
Zhiwan, published the first part of his study Chu¯goku Do¯kyo¯
first monographic series in English dedicated to Daoism (in
no matsuri to shinko¯ in Tokyo in 1983. In 1975 the American
1997), whereas established social historians like Robert
Michael Saso published in Taipei twenty-five volumes of
Hymes and Edward L. Davis publish volumes exploring the
Daoist texts used under the title Zhuanglin xu Daozang. The
role of Daoism in local society from the eleventh century on-
Daoist practices of the Yao people of northern Thailand were
recorded by Japanese scholars and have attracted the atten-
In part, this willingness of North American university
tion of French, American, and Dutch scholars. Daoism in
presses to venture into what had been before the 1980s a vir-
Hong Kong, Singapore, and other overseas Chinese commu-
tually unknown area was the result of the emergence of a
nities was investigated to some extent as well.
wider reading public in the English-speaking world, a public
By the mid-1980s, Daoist studies were thus no longer
still primarily interested in the Dao de jing, feng-shui, or the
confined to one or two pioneers working in isolation, and
martial arts, but also prepared to explore further. To cater
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

to such interests a number of websites emerged, including
count of the religion in its homeland. James Miller, Daoism:
some of real academic value, such as that maintained by the
A Short Introduction (Oxford, 2003), is an up-to-date
Italian expert on alchemy, Fabrizio Pregadio, who is also edi-
summary. Livia Kohn, ed., Daoism Handbook (Leiden,
tor of a substantial and groundbreaking encyclopedia of
2000), is a compendious source of information in Eng-
Daoism in English. Livia Kohn, who had from early in her
lish. Fabrizio Pregadio’s website, available at http://
career attempted to provide materials in English to meet the
venus.unive.it/pregadio/taoism.html, is a gateway to the
mysteries of Daoism.
needs of higher education in North America, edited the first
major work of reference on Daoism in English, the Daoism
T. H. BARRETT (1987 AND 2005)
Handbook, though her student James Miller has achieved an
even more remarkable feat by condensing knowledge into a
readable introductory volume. Miller’s work has earned the
DAOSHENG (360?–434), also Zhu Daosheng; Chinese
approbation of at least one ordained Daoist priest engaged
Buddhist monk, student of the Nirva¯n:a Su¯tra, and early pro-
in doctoral research in English. The combination of religious
ponent of a doctrine of sudden enlightenment. The precise
and academic qualifications goes back to Schipper’s contacts
age at which Daosheng entered the religious life is unknown.
with Daoist circles in Taiwan, but the increasingly obvious
Accounts of his early career state only that he studied under
strength of the religion throughout the Chinese world sug-
Zhu Fatai (a disciple, with Dao’an, of Fotudeng) in Jian-
gests it is a combination that may become more common in
kang, the southern capital. In 397 he journeyed to Mount
the future. Certainly the revival of Daoist practice on a large
Lu and became the disciple of Dao’an’s most famous stu-
scale in China itself has enabled scholars such as Kenneth
dent, Huiyuan. During his first year on Lushan, Daosheng
Dean and Lagerwey, partly inspired by the pioneering work
took advantage of the presence of the Kashmiri monk
of der Loon, to combine textual scholarship and fieldwork
Sam:ghadeva to study the Sarva¯stiva¯da Abhidharma litera-
to bring new insights into many aspects of Daoist ritual and
ture. Around 406 he left Lushan for the northern capital of
its relationship to Chinese social life.
Chang’an, where he presumably attended Kuma¯raj¯ıva’s
Meanwhile, the very vibrancy of the religion in the con-
translation seminars of the Vimalak¯ırti and Saddharma-
temporary world has started to stimulate reflection on the
pun:d:ar¯ıka Su¯tras. Later, he wrote commentaries to both of
way it was originally represented in Western scholarship as
these scriptures.
a moribund tradition perpetuated only by ignorant charla-
In 407 Daosheng abruptly left Chang’an and returned
tans. In this, the lead has been taken by the Australian scholar
to Lushan, bearing with him a copy of Sengzhao’s Boruo wu
Benjamin Penny, who has briefly examined some of the in-
zhi lun (Prajña¯ is not knowledge). Liu Yimin’s correspon-
fluences working on nineteenth-century accounts of Dao-
dence with Sengzhao regarding this text, included in the
ism. In 2003 Elena Valussi challenged the rhetoric of decline
Zhaolun, resulted from this fortuitous transmission. Shortly
in later Daoism through a London doctorate devoted to the
after arriving on Mount Lu, Daosheng was off again, this
emergence in the Qing period of texts promoting the self-
time to Jiankang, where in 418 Faxian translated a recension
cultivation of women. These show an ongoing pattern of ad-
of the Maha¯ya¯na Maha¯parinirva¯n:a Su¯tra. This text, like its
aptation and innovation into the twentieth century not easy
H¯ınaya¯na namesake, purported to record the last discourse
to reconcile with the negative assessments of Western mis-
of the Buddha, a fact that very naturally conferred on it a
sionary observers. The early twenty-first century is at last see-
prestige and authority all its own. Quite unlike the H¯ınaya¯na
ing the recognition of Daoism as a religious tradition of re-
version, however, the Maha¯ya¯na text preached that nirva¯n:a
markable richness and historic depth that has by no means
was “permanent, joyous, personal, and pure” (Chin., chang,
been extinguished by modernity and that may yet have much
le, wo[!], jing), assertions that are substantially at odds with
to teach. Several of those responsible for demonstrating this,
the normative Maha¯ya¯na teaching that the nature of nirva¯n:a,
like Anna Seidel (1938–1991), Michel Strickmann (1942–
like that of all dharmas, is itself empty (´su¯nya) of all attri-
1994), and Isabelle Robinet (1932–2000), did not live to see
butes. More curious to Daosheng’s ears, however, was the
the full fruits of their efforts.
statement in Faxian’s translation that the icchantikas (Chin.,
yichanti, beings who have cut off their roots of virtue and
seek only to gratify their desires) could never attain buddha-
Retrospective surveys with a narrow focus are K. M. Schipper,
hood. To Daosheng, such a statement vitiated the central
“The History of Taoist Studies in Europe,” in Europe Studies
claim of Maha¯ya¯na Buddhism to be a vehicle of salvation for
China, edited by Ming Wilson and John Cayley (London,
all beings. Disdaining to accept the letter of the text, he in-
1995), pp. 467–491; and Fukui Fumimasa, “The History of
sisted on the ultimate buddhahood of the icchantikas, and
Taoist Studies in Japan and Some Related Issues,” Acta Asia-
in so doing brought down upon himself the wrath of the mo-
tica 68 (1995), pp. 1–18. J. J. Clarke, The Tao of the West:
nastic community in Jiankang. Daosheng was forced to leave
Western Transformations of Taoist Thought (London, 2000),
the capital in 428 or 429 when accusations of heresy were
is an outsider’s account useful for its information on the
formally brought to the attention of the emperor.
broader context of the acceptance of Daoism as a topic of
study. Lai Chi-Tim, “Daoism in China Today, 1980–2002,”
Back on Lushan, Daosheng did not have to wait long
China Quarterly 174 (June 2003), pp. 413–427, is an ac-
for vindication. In 430 a new recension of the
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Maha¯parinirva¯n:a Su¯tra, translated by Dharmaks:ema in
lightenment itself a sudden, radical break in consciousness,
Liangzhou in 421, reached the southern capital. Eight chap-
or is it of a piece, more rarefied perhaps, with the gradual
ters longer than Faxian’s recension, this text contained pas-
steps of spiritual progress along the bodhisattva path?
sages in the sections hitherto unavailable to the Chinese that
explicitly guaranteed salvation to the icchantikas. When the
A document contemporary with Daosheng, Xie
contents of this text became known in Jiankang, Daosheng
Lingyun’s Bianzong lun (Discussion of essentials; included
was invited to return to the capital. He died on Mount Lu
in the Guang hongming ji, T.D. no. 2103) apprises us that
in the year 434.
for many Chinese the bodhisattva path was seen as a course
of gradual progression and graded stages of enlightenment.
Daosheng’s works, nearly all lost, reflect the broadened
Against this view, the Bianzong lun sets forth what it calls the
textual horizons of the Chinese Buddhist world of the early
new doctrine of Daosheng. According to this doctrine, as the
fifth century. They include essays on the Buddha nature and
Absolute is unitary, indivisible, and without any qualifiers
the dharmaka¯ya (the transcendental, absolute body of the
whatsoever, so too must the wisdom that comprehends it be
Buddha); a treatise on the two truths, presumably a
a sudden, intuitive insight (dunwu) into the whole of reality.
Ma¯dhyamika-oriented work deriving from the influence of
Such an insight can admit to no gradation. Daosheng likens
Kuma¯raj¯ıva; and commentaries on several su¯tras, including
the process of enlightenment to that of a fruit ripening on
the Vimalak¯ırti, the Saddharmapun:d:ar¯ıka (Lotus), the
a tree. Religious practice may inculcate confidence and faith
Nirva¯n:a (the principal scriptural warrant for many of his no-
in the dharma, but at the moment when one reaches enlight-
tions), and the As:t:asa¯hasrika¯-prajña¯pa¯ramit:. But what we
enment there is a qualitative leap or disjunction, just as
know of his thought is based principally on secondary
the fruit suddenly falls away from the tree when it reaches
sources, the testimony of Sengzhao, for instance, who liberal-
ly cites Daosheng’s views in his own commentary on the
Vimalak¯ırti Su¯tra. Of Daosheng’s scriptural commentaries
Daosheng’s teaching of sudden enlightenment was not
only that on the Lotus survives.
the first such doctrine in China. Previous thinkers such as
Zhi Dun and, allegedly, Dao’an, had spoken of the seventh
For Daosheng, the phenomenal world is supported by
bhu¯mi as the critical stage at which insight dawns. For them,
an absolute, a principle of cosmic and moral order (li) that
however, this insight was deepened in later stages. Daosheng
is unitary, indivisible, and immanent in all things. This cos-
mic order is dharma. As the source of things, it is also their
rejected this lesser doctrine of sudden enlightenment (xiao
ti, or substance, and yet it is ultimately without any qualify-
dunwu), as he did the gradualist notions of his former com-
ing attributes whatsoever: it is kong, empty, wu, without exis-
panion in Chang’an, Huiguan (354–424), who argued that
tence, or ziran, self-same, what is naturally so. The personifi-
practitioners of different levels of spiritual maturity perceive
cation of this principle is, of course, the Buddha, but as the
the truth in different ways and to differing degrees: the truth
Buddha is in a sense no more than a reification of the dhar-
may be whole, but some are capable of seeing only a portion
ma, the body of the dharma (dharmaka¯ya), buddhas and or-
of it. This subitist versus gradualist controversy was one of
dinary beings share a common substance. The Nirva¯n:a Su¯tra
the issues subsumed within the discourse of fifth- and sixth-
asserts, in its most well-known passage, that all beings possess
century debates on the jiaopan, the divisions of scriptures
this buddha nature (foxing). If so, argues Daosheng, the reli-
that attempted to account for the diversity, even incongruity,
gious life does not culminate in the acquisition of some new
the Chinese found among the teachings of the Indian su¯tra
quality but in an awareness within each of us of an already
literature. These organizing schemes classified texts both ge-
present enlightenment. Once this awareness dawns, there
netically, according to the type of teaching embodied there-
then arises what the Nirva¯n:a Su¯tra refers to as the true self
in, and historically, according to the period in the career of
(zhen wo), an unqualified, blissful, and unchanging con-
the Buddha in which they were said to have been preached.
sciousness. It was in terms of this True Self that Daosheng
In one of the most prominent of these early systems,
understood the Nirva¯n:a Su¯tra’s teaching that nirva¯n:a is per-
Huiguan proposed that the Buddha preached at least two
manent, joyous, personal, and pure.
types of doctrine, dunjiao, or sudden teachings, and jianjiao,
Classical Maha¯ya¯na thought conceives of the religious
gradual teachings (a third type, indeterminate, is often attri-
path as commencing with a mind set on enlightenment (bod-
buted to Huiguan and was widely found in jiaopan contem-
hicitta) and progressing through a series of ten bodhisattva
porary with his). But Huiguan’s emphasis here does not bear
stages (bhu¯mis) in which deluded thought is suppressed and
directly on the nature of the enlightenment experience itself;
nondual insight (prajña¯) into reality cultivated. The seventh
as the term jiao (teaching) implies, what is at issue is the
of these bhu¯mis is usually considered a decisive point in the
method employed in various texts to bring beings to enlight-
spiritual life. From that point on, the practitioner is consid-
enment, suggesting that in their quest for a systematization
ered no longer subject to spiritual retrogression; his con-
of the Buddhist scriptures, the scholar-monks of Daosheng’s
sciousness is wholly oriented toward enlightenment, even if
time admitted, in best Maha¯ya¯na fashion, a plurality of reli-
that path involves, as it must, the decision to delay final
gious paths without necessarily denying the suddenness of
nirva¯n:a for the sake of others. But is the experience of en-
enlightenment itself.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

For his part, Daosheng too proposed a classification of
Demiéville, Paul. “Bussho¯.” In Ho¯bo¯girin, edited by Paul De-
the Buddha’s teachings according to the capacities of the au-
miéville, fasc. 2, pp. 185–187. Tokyo, 1930.
dience. In the Miaofa lianhua jing su, his commentary to the
Demiéville, Paul. “La pénétration du bouddhisme dans la tradi-
Lotus Su¯tra, Daosheng acknowledges the need for various de-
tion philosophique chinoise.” In his Choix d’études boudd-
vices to provoke faith in dharma and posits a fourfold divi-
hiques, pp. 241–260. Leiden, 1973. Includes a discussion of
sion of the Buddha’s teachings: (1) Good and Pure Wheel
subitist versus gradualist tendencies in Chinese Buddhism.
of the Law; (2) Expedient Teachings; (3) True Teachings;
Fung Yu-lan. A History of Chinese Philosophy, vol. 2, The Period
and (4) Teachings without Residue. Whether these refer, as
of Classical Learning. 2d ed. Translated by Derk Bodde.
commonly interpreted, to specific texts or, as also main-
Princeton, 1953. See pages 270–284.
tained (O
¯ cho¯, 1952, pp. 232–238), merely to teaching
Fuse Ko¯gaku. Nehanshu¯ no kenkyu¯. 2 vols. Tokyo, 1942. See espe-
methods, they are indicative of Daosheng’s recognition that
cially volume 2 for an extensive treatment of the develop-
ment of the notions of sudden and gradual enlightenment
although the Truth may be indivisible, the means to attract
(pp. 139–171) and the thought of Daosheng and Huiguan
people to it must take heed of their capacity to comprehend
(pp. 172–196).
what is taught. Clearly, Daosheng never intended to pre-
Hurvitz, Leon N. Chih-i (538–597): An Introduction to the Life
clude the necessity for religious cultivation by promulgating
and Ideas of a Chinese Buddhist Monk. Brussels, 1962. Dao-
his doctrine of sudden enlightenment.
sheng is discussed on pages 193–201.
Crucial as these issues may have been for the Indian
Itano Cho¯hachi. “Do¯sho¯ no tongosetsu seiritsu no jijo¯.” To¯ho¯
Buddhist tradition, where both subitist and gradualist ten-
gakuho¯ 7 (December 1936): 125–186.
dencies are attested, it is important to recognize the extent
Itano Cho¯hachi. “Do¯sho¯ no bussho¯ron.” Shina bukkyo¯ shigaku 2
to which the debate over the topic in China was carried out
(May 1938): 1–26.
against a backdrop of indigenous values and perceptions. De-
Liebenthal, Walter. “A Biography of Chu Tao-sheng.” Monu-
spite the provocative fact that Xie Lingyun classed as sudden
menta Nipponica 11 (1955): 284–316.
the doctrines of Confucius, Confucian teachings were peren-
Liebenthal, Walter. “The World Conception of Chu Tao–sheng.”
nially associated with a gradual path of moral and intellectual
Monumenta Nipponica 12 (1956): 65–103.
cultivation epitomized in their concept of the ideal person,
Liebenthal, Walter. “The World Conception of Chu Tao-sheng
the junzi. By contrast, the very notions most typically associ-
(Texts).” Monumenta Nipponica 12 (1956–1957): 241–268.
ated with the subitist doctrine, the unity and indivisibility
Liebenthal, Walter, ed. and trans. The Book of Chao. Beijing,
of the Truth and the ineffability and spontaneity of the expe-
1948. Appendix 3 contains a useful discussion of sudden and
rience of it, are characteristically Daoist. As Demiéville
gradual enlightenment.
points out (1973, pp. 256–257), Daosheng’s most well-
¯ cho¯ Enichi. “Jiku Do¯sho¯ sen Hokekyo¯sho no kenkyu¯.” O¯tani dai-
known assertions—that works are in vain, that acts engender
gaku kenkyu¯ nenpo¯ 5 (1952): 169–272.
no retribution, that karman is a mere nominal designation,
Tang Yongtong. Han Wei liang-Jin Nan-bei chao fojiao shi. 2 vols.
Shanghai, 1938. See volume 2, pages 601–676, for a full
and that buddahood is innate in all beings—handsomely re-
treatment of Daosheng.
capitulate the notions of sagehood championed in the imme-
diately preceding centuries by the xuanxue thinkers.
New Sources
Kim, Young-ho. Daosheng’s Commentary on the Lotus Su¯tra Su¯tra:
In later centuries, subitist and gradualist patterns would
A Study and Translation. Albany, 1990.
manifest themselves again in the controversies of the South-
Lai, Whalen. “Some Notes on Perceptions of Pratitya-Samutpada
ern and Northern Chan teachings (upon which Daosheng’s
in China from Kumarajiva to Fa-yao.” Journal of Chinese
thought has no real bearing whatsoever) and, in another
Philosophy 8 (1981): 427–435.
form altogether, in the division of the neo-Confucian teach-
Lai, Whalen. “The Mahaparinirvana-Sutra and Its Earliest Inter-
ings into the so-called Cheng-Zhu and Lu-Wang traditions,
preters in China: Two Prefaces by Tao-lang and Daosheng.”
testifying to the power of these motifs over Chinese intellec-
Journal of the American Oriental Society 102, no. 2 (1982):
tual and religious history. It is thus important to see in Daos-
heng’s thought the extent to which Buddhist and indigenous
Lai, Whalen. “Daosheng’s Theory of Sudden Enlightenment Re-
patterns of religious thinking fertilize each other and to rec-
Examined.” In Sudden and Gradual: Approaches to Enlighten-
ognize in the concerns of the still young Chinese Buddhist
ment in Chinese Thought, edited by Peter Gregory,
pp. 169–200. Honolulu, 1987.
church of Daosheng’s day the resumption of perennial Chi-
nese themes and conflicts.
Yu, David C. “Skill-in-Means and the Buddhism of Daosheng: A
Study of a Chinese Reaction to Maha¯ya¯ana of the Fifth Cen-
tury.” Philosophy East and West 24, no. 4 (1974): 413–427.
EE ALSO Bodhisattva Path; Guo Xiang; Huiyuan;
Kuma¯raj¯ıva; Sengzhao; Wang Bi.
Revised Bibliography
Ch’en, Kenneth. Buddhism in China: A Historical Survey.
Princeton, 1964. Daosheng’s thought is introduced on pages
¯ H, MUH:AMMAD. (According to
some sources, Dara Shuko¯h.) Sultan Muh:ammad Da¯ra¯
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

Shiko¯h (AH 1024–1069/1615–1659 CE), the eldest son of
between Da¯ra¯ Shuko¯h and Ba¯ba¯ La¯l Da¯s). As a result of his
the Mughal emperor Sha¯hjaha¯n and Mumta¯z Mah:al, was
discussion with Ba¯ba¯ La¯l and other S:u¯f¯ıs he wrote Majma E
born in the city of Ajmer. Da¯ra¯’s political career began in
al-Bah:rayn (The Mingling of the Two Oceans). This work rep-
1634, when he was given the first man¸sab (rank) in com-
resents one of the most important attempts to reconcile
mand of 1,200 dha¯t (soldiers) and 6,000 sawa¯r (horsemen).
Islam and Hinduism in the history of Indian thought, and
By 1657 the number of troops under Da¯ra¯’s command had
specifically in the field of comparative religion. Yet despite
reached 100,000. Moreover, later in the same year, due to
its ecumenical nature, Majma E became the most controver-
the illness of his father, Da¯ra¯ was appointed as regent to look
sial work written by Da¯ra¯.
after the affairs of the empire.
Da¯ra¯ also translated fifty Upanis:ads—under the title
Da¯ra¯ was not a successful warrior, however. His three
Sirr-i Akbar (The greatest veil)—from the original Sanskrit
expeditions against the Persian army, in 1639, 1642, and
into Persian. Later, Anquetil Duperron, a French scholar,
1653, ended in humiliation and cost him the chance of cap-
translated the Persian rendering of Da¯ra¯ into French and
turing Kandahar. His later career, moreover, saw two detri-
Latin and introduced his work to Europe. In his preface to
mental defeats in the war of succession at the hands of his
the Sirr-i Akbar, Da¯ra¯ assigned the Upanis:ads the status of
brothers, who refused to accept Da¯ra¯ as the new regent. First
kita¯b-i maknu¯n (a well-guarded book)—a status previously
he lost against Mura¯d and Aurangze¯b in Samu¯garh, and then
assigned by Muslim scholars only to the QurDa¯n. For Da¯ra¯,
a few months later he suffered his final defeat in 1659 at the
the Upanis:ads and the QurDa¯n represented two facets of the
hands of Aurangze¯b in Deorai. Although Da¯ra¯ was a brave
same truth. Da¯ra¯’s other scholarly efforts in the field of Hin-
warrior, his lack of diplomatic and leadership skills lost him
duism include a translation of the Bhagavadg¯ıta¯ and his com-
his crown, and he was forced to flee to Dadar for refuge.
mission of a translation of the Jo¯g Ba¯shist, also known as
There he was betrayed by his host, Malik J¯ıwan, and handed
Minh:a¯j al-Sa¯lik¯ın (The path of the wayfarers). In the preface
over to the new emperor, Aurangze¯b. Finally, Da¯ra¯ was pa-
to Jo¯g, he praises the prophet Muh:ammad and admires the
raded in disgrace through the streets of Delhi and beheaded
Hindu avatar Ramchand. This also demonstrates that, for
in Dhu¯ al H:ijja AH 1069 (August 1659).
him, both personalities were guides of the same stature. Da¯ra¯
Shiko¯h’s efforts to forge a new relationship between Hindu-
Da¯ra¯ was a patron of arts, architecture, and literature
ism and Islam was the most remarkable ecumenical achieve-
and was himself a skilled calligrapher, artist, poet, writer, and
ment in the history of Mughal India.
translator. He wrote several works on Sufism and translated
a few remarkable Sanskrit works into Persian. Da¯ra¯ appears
to have been interested in the Qa¯diriyya S:u¯f¯ı silsila (literally,
Chand, Ta¯ra¯. “Dara Shikoh and the Upanishads.” Islamic Culture
“order”) from his childhood. He was formally initiated by
(1943): 397–413.
Mulla¯ Sha¯h into the Qa¯diriyya silsila sometime in 1639 or
Da¯ra¯ Shuko¯h. H:asana¯t al- EA¯rif¯ın. Edited by Sayyid Makhdoom
1640. He remained committed to his silsila throughout his
Rah¯ın. Tehran, Iran, 1973.
life, and as a poet he adopted “Qa¯dir¯ı” as his pen name.
Da¯ra¯ Shuko¯h. Majma E-ul-Bahrain, or, The Mingling of the Two
It was his interest in Sufism that led Da¯ra¯ to start writ-
Oceans. Edited and translated by M. Mahfuz-ul-Haq. Cal-
ing in 1639 or 1640. His first four works were on Sufism.
cutta, 1929.
The first, Saf¯ınat al-Awliya¯ D (Ship of the saints), contains
Da¯ra¯ Shuko¯h. Risa¯la-i H:aqq-numa¯ D, Majma E al-Bah:rayn, Up-
more than four hundred short biographies of S:u¯f¯ı saints of
anikhat Mundak. Edited by Sayyid Muh:ammad Riza¯ Jala¯l¯ı
Na¯D¯ın¯ı as Muntakhaba¯t-i A¯tha¯r. Tehran, Iran, 1956.
various orders. The second, Sak¯ınat al–Awliya¯ D (Tranquility
of the saints), encompasses the lives of twenty-eight Qa¯dir¯ı
Da¯ra¯ Shuko¯h. Saf¯ınat al-Awliya¯ D. Kanpur, India, 1900.
S:u¯f¯ıs, mostly Da¯ra¯’s contemporaries. The third work,
Da¯ra¯ Shuko¯h. Sirr-i Akbar: The Oldest Translation of Upanishads
Risa¯la-i H:aqq numa¯D (The compass of the truth), is a manual
from Sanskrit into Persian. Edited by Ta¯ra¯ Chand and
Muh:ammad Riza¯ Jala¯l¯ı Na¯D¯ın¯ı. Tehran, Iran, 1957.
aimed at explaining the theory and practice of S:u¯f¯ı medita-
tion. The fourth work, H:asana¯t al- EA¯rif¯ın (Merits of the
Da¯ra¯ Shuko¯h. Sak¯ınat al-Awliya¯ D. Edited by Sayyid Muh:ammad
Gnostics), is a collection of the sha¸th:iyya¯t (ecstatic utter-
Riza¯ Jala¯l¯ı Na¯D¯ın¯ı and Ta¯ra¯ Chand. Tehran, Iran, 1965.
ances) of the S:u¯f¯ı saints from the eleventh century down to
Ernst, C. W. Words of Ecstasy in Sufism. Albany, N.Y., 1985.
Da¯ra¯’s own time. His S:u¯f¯ı writings show that he was an en-
Göbel Gross, Erhard. Sirr-i Akbar:
Die persische
thusiastic follower of the doctrine of wah:dat al-wuju¯d (one-
Upani¸sadenübersetzung des Mog˙ulprinzen Da¯ra¯ Sˇukoh. Mar-
ness of being) and advocated an inclusive approach towards
burg, Germany, 1962.
other religions.
Hasrat, Bikrama Jit. Da¯ra¯ Shiku¯h: Life and Works. Allahabad,
India, 1953; 2d ed., New Delhi, 1979.
It was Da¯ra¯’s broad-minded S:u¯f¯ı attitude that brought
Huart, Clement, and Louis Massignon. “Les entretiens de Lahore
him to the study of Hinduism. He held a series of dialogues
(entre le prince impérial Da¯ra¯ Shiku¯h et l’ascète hindou Baba
with a Hindu yogi, Ba¯ba¯ La¯l Da¯s, and discussed with him
La’l Das).” Journal Asiatique 208 (1926): 285–334.
various concepts of Hinduism, at times comparing them
Karim, Arshad Syed. “Muslim Nationalism: Conflicting Ideolo-
with Islam. This conversation was later compiled as
gies of Dara Shikoh and Aurangzeb.” Journal of the Pakistan
Su¯ Da¯l-o-jawa¯b Da¯ra¯ Shuko¯h-o-Ba¯ba¯ La¯l Da¯s (The dialogue
Historical Society 33, pt. 4 (1985): 288–296.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

Narain, Sheo. “Da¯ra¯ Shikoh as an Author.” Journal of the Punjab
plicity of life, limitation of material needs, reliance upon
Historical Society 2 (1913–1914): 21–38.
God for sustenance, and other aspects of Muhammadan pov-
Qanungo, Kalika-Ranjan. Dara Shukoh. 2d ed. Calcutta, 1952.
erty or Sufism as laziness, lackadaisicalness, indifference to
Shayegan, Darius. Les relations de l’Hindouisme et du Soufisme
cleanliness, neglect of duties toward oneself and society, and
d’après le Majma E al-Bahrayn de Da¯ra¯ Shoku¯h. Paris, 1979.
other injunctions emphasized by the shar¯ı Eah, or Islamic law.
This negative aspect of the term increased with the decay of
certain S:u¯f¯ı orders during the past two or three centuries and
also with the attempt by some people to pass themselves off
as darw¯ısh without any involvement with Sufism at all.
Nonetheless, the association with spiritual poverty, self-
discipline, and the basic virtues of humility, charity, and ve-
racity remains the primary meaning of the word.
Arberry, A. J. Sufism: An Account of the Mystics of Islam (1950).
Reprint, London, 1979.
Birge, John K. The Bektashi Order of Dervishes (1937). Reprint,
New York, 1982.
Ernst, Carl W. The Shambala Guide to Sufism. Boston, 1997.
Keddie, Nikki R., ed. Scholars, Saints, and Sufis: Muslim Religious
DARW¯ISH. The Persian word darw¯ısh, from the Pahlavi
Institutions in the Middle East since 1500. Berkeley, Calif.,
driyosh, is most likely derived from the term darv¯ıza, mean-
ing “poverty,” “neediness,” “begging,” and so forth. The
Nicholson, Reynold A. The Mystics of Islam (1914). Reprint, Lon-
word darw¯ısh has entered the other Islamic languages, such
don, 1963.
as Turkish and Urdu, and is even found in classical Arabic
Schimmel, Annemarie. Mystical Dimensions of Islam. Chapel Hill,
sources. It has become an English word in the form of der-
N. C., 1975.
vish. In all these cases, including the original Persian, it is re-
lated primarily to spiritual poverty, equivalent to the posses-
sion of “Muhammadan poverty” (al-faqr al-muh:ammadi).
Hence the term darw¯ısh referring to a person who possesses
this “poverty” is the same as the Arabic term faq¯ır used in
DASAM GRANTH. The Dasam Granth (Tenth book)
Sufism in many Islamic languages besides Arabic (including
is a collection of writings attributed to Guru¯ Gobind Singh,
Persian itself) for Muhammadan poverty. Within S:u¯f¯ı cir-
the tenth Sikh guru¯ (1666–1708). It was compiled sometime
cles, these words are used interchangeably, along with
after his death by Bha¯¯ı Man¯ı Singh, one of his devoted fol-
mutas:awwif, “practitioner” of Sufism.
lowers. The Dasam Granth is 1,428 pages long, so it is almost
The term darw¯ısh appears in Persian literature as early
the same size as the Guru¯ Granth (1,430 pages). The Guru¯
as the tenth century and in such early Persian S:u¯f¯ı texts as
Granth, also known as the A¯di Granth (First book), is the sa-
the works of Khwa¯jah EAbd Alla¯h Ans:a¯r¯ı of Herat, where it
cred scripture of the Sikhs, but some parts of the Dasam
carries the basic meaning referred to above but encompasses
Granth are also used in Sikh prayers. The authorship and au-
such variations as “ascetic,” “hermit,” and “wandering S:u¯f¯ı”
thenticity of a large proportion of this work is questioned.
(qalandar). Later it also became an honorific title bestowed
Most of the Dasam Granth is in the Braj language, but the
upon certain S:u¯f¯ıs such as Darw¯ısh Khusraw, the leader of
entire work is printed in the Gurmukhi script.
the Nuqt:awiyah school at the time of Shah EAbba¯s I.
Guru¯ Gobind Singh was a superb poet who introduced
Throughout the history of Sufism, the state of being a
vigorous meters and rhythms to revitalize his people and cre-
darw¯ısh, or darw¯ısh¯ı, has been held in great honor and re-
ated novel images and paradoxes to stretch their imagination.
spect, as seen from the famous ghazal of H:a¯fiz: that begins
He was also a great patron of the arts and employed numer-
with the verse
ous poets from different religious backgrounds. Much of the
Rawd:iy-i khuld-i bar¯ın khalwat-i darw¯ısha¯nast
poetry written by Guru¯ Gobind Singh himself as well as that
Ma¯yiy-i muh:tashim¯ı khidmat-i darw¯ıshanast
by his court poets was lost during his evacuation from An-
andpur in 1705. Bha¯¯ı Man¯ı Singh spent years collecting
The sublime eternal Paradise is the spiritual
whatever materials he could salvage, and from these he pro-
retreat of the dervishes;
duced the first recension of the Dasam Granth.
The essence of grandeur is the service of the dervishes.
The Dasam Granth remains controversial among schol-
There is, however, a secondary meaning associated with
ars, and it elicits a range of responses from devotees. Such
darw¯ısh that carries negative connotations, interpreting sim-
compositions as the Jaapu, Aka¯l Ustat, Bicitra Na¯tak, Can:d:¯ı
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

Caritra, Can:d:¯ı di Va¯r, S´abad Haza¯re, and Gya¯n Prabodh are
Recognize the single caste of humanity
generally accepted as Guru¯ Gobind Singh’s compositions,
Know that we are all of the same body, the same light.
and these are revered by the Sikhs. A large proportion of the
(Aka¯l Ustat 85)
Dasam Granth (about 1,185 pages) is devoted to stories,
The tenth guru¯’s verse continues to have great resonance for
many of them based on Indian myth, others dealing with
the global society. Difference should not stand in the way of
amorous intrigues. Most people believe that these sections
people getting to know one another:
were written by the poets of the guru¯’s entourage. They are
Different vestures from different countries may make us
therefore neglected, but the Benati Chaupai from this section
different. But we have the same eyes, the same ears, the
is one of the daily Sikh prayers.
same body, the same voice. (Aka¯l Ustat 86)
The Dasam Granth opens with the Jaapu. Analogous to
Guru¯ Na¯nak’s Japu (the first hymn in the Guru¯ Granth),
SEE ALSO A¯di Granth; Sikhism; Singh, Gobind.
Guru¯ Gobind Singh’s Jaapu carries forward in breathtaking
speed Na¯nak’s message of the One reality. Many Sikhs recite
the Jaapu daily in the morning. It is also one of the hymns
For the text in the original Punjabi, see Bhai Randhir Singh’s Sab-
recited as part of the Sikh initiation ceremony. Through dy-
dharath Dasam Granth, 3 vols. (Patiala, India, 1988). This
namic metaphors and rhythm, the Jaapu exalts the animating
text has been reproduced with a translation by Jodh Singh
and life-generating One that flows through and intercon-
and Dharam Singh, Sri Dasam Granth Sahib: Text and
(Patiala, India, 1999). Excellent scholarly works
nects the myriad creatures: “salutations to You in every coun-
in Punjabi include Rattan Singh Jaggi, Dasam Granth da
try, in every garb” (Jaapu 66). Like Na¯nak’s Japu, Gobind
Kartritav (New Delhi, 1966); and Piara Singh Padam,
Singh’s Jaapu celebrates the presence of the transcendent
Dasam Granth Darsan (Patiala, India, 1990). Studies written
within the glorious diversity of the cosmos: “You are in
in English include D. P. Ashta, The Poetry of the Dasam
water, You are on land” (Jaapu 62); “You are the sustainer
Granth (New Delhi, 1959); C. H. Loehlin, The Granth of
of the earth” (Jaapu 173).
Guru Gobind Singh and the Khalsa Brotherhood (Lucknow,
The Jaapu is followed by Aka¯l Ustat (Praise of the time-
India, 1958); J. S. Grewal, Contesting Interpretations of the
less one), which occupies twenty-eight pages of the Dasam
Sikh Tradition (New Delhi, 1998); Hew McLeod, Sikhs of
the Khalsa: A History of the Khalsa Rahit
(New Delhi, 2003);
Granth. It proclaims the unity of humanity:
and Robin Rinehart, “Strategies for Interpreting the Dasam
Hindus and Muslims are one . . . . The Hindu temple
Granth,” in Sikhism and History, edited by Pashaura Singh
and the Muslim mosque are the same. . . . All human-
and N. Gerald Barrier (New Delhi, 2004).
ity is one. (Akal Ustat 86)
Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948) popularized these verses in
his famous prayer, “¯I´svara and Allah are your names, temple
and mosque are your homes.” Verses from the Aka¯l Ustat are
central to the Sikh initiation ceremony. They rhythmically
DAVID [FIRST EDITION], second king of Israel
repeat that without love all religious practices are ineffective:
and Judah (c. 1000–960 BCE), and founder of a dynasty that
“They alone who love, find the Beloved.”
continued until the end of the Judean monarchy. David was
The thirty-eight-page Bicitra Na¯tak (Wondrous drama)
the youngest son of Jesse from Bethlehem in Judah.
follows the Aka¯l Ustat. This poetic autobiography is a magi-
cal mixture of biographical facts and literary imagination. It
ed by both tradition and modern scholarship as the greatest
is the only autobiographical work by any of the Sikh guru¯s.
ruler of the combined states of Israel and Judah. He was able
The three Durga¯-Can:d:¯ı poems come next and retell the
to free them from the control of the Philistines and to gain
story of Durga¯’s titanic battles against the demons from the
a measure of domination over some of the neighboring states
Dev¯ıma¯ha¯tmya. With all his artistic zeal, the guru¯ amplifies
(Edom, Moab, Ammon) and some of the Aramean states of
the warrior role of the ancient Hindu heroine.
Syria. At the same time he established treaty relations with
Tyre and Hamath. He also extended the territories of Judah
Kha¯lsa¯ Mahima (Praise of the Kha¯lsa¯), which comes
and Israel to include a number of major Canaanite cities and
later in the Dasam Granth, is a favorite hymn amongst the
took Jerusalem by conquest. It became his capital and re-
Sikhs. It celebrates the democratic Kha¯lsa¯ community creat-
mained the ruling center of Judah until the end of the mon-
ed by Guru¯ Gobind Singh: “The Kha¯lsa¯ is my special form
. . . the Kha¯lsa¯ is my body and breath.” Another popular
text from the Dasam Granth is the defiant Zafar Na¯ma¯ (Let-
There are no references to David in any historical source
ter of victory), written in Persian, and addressed to the em-
outside the Bible. One contemporary ruler, Hiram of Tyre,
peror Aurangzeb.
mentioned in 2 Samuel 5:11, is known from other historical
Like his predecessor guru¯s, Gobind Singh appropriates
sources, but the correlation of the chronologies of the two
love as the highest form of action. His devotional composi-
kings remains problematic.
tions reiterate Sikh ideals and ethics. Their tone is forceful,
The assessment of David’s career is based upon sources
and their imperatives are clear:
in 1 Samuel 16 through 1 Kings 2. Some of these that men-
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

tion his military activities reflect annalistic or formal docu-
to regard it as the thematic center of the larger Deuteronomic
ments. These are now embedded within two literary works
history of the monarchy and its ideology of kingship.
often regarded as nearly contemporary with David and an
The dynastic promise is the real climax to the account
important witness to the events: the story of David’s rise to
of David’s rise to kingship. With David a new era begins in
power (1 Sm. 16 through 2 Sm. 2:7, 2 Sm. 5), and the court
two respects. God promises David an eternal dynasty but as-
history, or succession story (2 Sm. 2:8–4:12, 6:16, 6:20–23;
signs the task of building the Temple—a permanent
2 Sm. 9–20; 1 Kgs. 1–2). It remains less clear how 2 Samuel
abode—to his son Solomon. God will be “a father” to the
6–8 relates to either of these works or how they all fit into
king, and he will be God’s “son.” He may be disciplined for
the larger history of the monarchy. The materials in 2 Samuel
disobedience to God’s laws, but the dynasty will remain in
21–24 are supplemental additions that do not belong to the
other sources.
David as the “servant of Yahveh” who is completely obe-
There are, however, two serious questions about this lit-
dient to God becomes the model for all future kings, espe-
erary analysis. First, the identification of a distinct literary
cially those of Judah. Not only is his obedience rewarded
work, the story of David’s rise to power, may be doubted,
with an immediate heir, but it is said to merit the perpetua-
since it may be viewed as a continuation of earlier materials
tion of his dynasty even if some future kings are disobedient
in Samuel and as having strong ties to the rest of the so-called
to God’s laws.
Deuteronomist’s history of the monarchy—in which case it
would be a work of the exilic period. Second, the court histo-
This dynastic promise also becomes the basis for the
ry was not originally part of this history but constitutes a later
hope of a restoration of the monarchy after the destruction
addition with quite a different perspective. If these two views
of the state in 587/6 BCE and ultimately leads to messia-
can be sustained, then both works are comparatively late, and
nism—the belief that a son of David will arise and restore
great caution must be exercised in using them as historical
the fortunes of Israel and usher in the final reign of God.
sources for the time of David.
Court history. The so-called court history, or succes-
DAVID IN THE TRADITION OF ISRAEL. Whatever their histor-
sion story, variously regarded as a unique piece of early histo-
ical value might be, the literary works within 1 Samuel 16
ry writing, a historical novel, and a work of royal propagan-
through 1 Kings 2 establish David’s place within the Israelite-
da, is a literary masterpiece of realistic narrative. Some view
Jewish tradition. Two quite different views of David’s char-
it as written in support of Solomon, while others understand
acter and his significance for later Israel are given in these
it as anti-Solomonic. If this work is an early source used by
the historian of Samuel and Kings, then it is not clear how
he could have been reconciled to such a pejorative view of
Rise to power. David’s introduction is directly linked
David, since the rest of the history so completely idealizes
to God’s rejection of Saul, so that he immediately appears
as the “one after God’s own heart” to replace Saul. Shortly
after David enters Saul’s service as personal armor bearer,
The court history, in fact, was a later addition to the his-
musician, and successful military leader, Saul becomes jeal-
tory that seeks to counter the idealized view of David by sug-
ous and turns against David. While Saul’s son Jonathan, his
gesting that he gained the throne from a son of Saul under
daughter Michal, his servants, and all the people grow to love
doubtful circumstances and that the divine promise to David
David, Saul grows to hate him and makes various attempts
was constantly used by David, Solomon, and others to legiti-
on his life so that David flees. David establishes a band of
mize very questionable behavior. The “sure house” of David
followers in Judah and becomes a vassal of the Philistines.
is characterized by endless turmoil, and Solomon finally suc-
Saul, demented, cruel, and forsaken by God, ultimately dies
ceeds David after a palace intrigue. David himself commits
on the battlefield with his sons. David, after offering a la-
adultery and murder. One of his sons, Amnon, rapes his sis-
ment for Saul and Jonathan, is made king at Hebron, first
ter Tamar and is avenged by his brother Absalom. After an
by Judah and subsequently by Israel. David then captures Je-
exile Absalom returns to lead a revolt against his father that
rusalem and wages successful warfare against the Philistines.
finally ends in Absalom’s death. This is followed by yet an-
All of this comes to David because “God is with him.”
other revolt between north and south.
Throughout the entire account, David is viewed as one who
This pejorative view of David’s monarchy and the dy-
can do no wrong. Heroic and magnanimous, he is the obvi-
nastic promise did not suppress the royal ideology or its evo-
ous replacement for Saul.
lution into messianism. At most it “humanized” David and
The dynastic promise. Once the land is at peace, David
gave added appeal to the tradition as a whole.
is able to bring the Ark to Jerusalem (2 Sm. 6) and build him-
self a palace (2 Sm. 5:11). He then proposes a plan to Nathan
and 2 Chronicles sees in David the real founder of the Jewish
the prophet to build a temple for the Ark, and this leads to
state, a state dominated by the Temple and an elaborate
a dynastic promise by God through the prophet (2 Sm. 7).
priestly hierarchy (1 Chr. 10–29). The Chronicler’s source
Although some have argued that this promise is based upon
for David was the history in Samuel and Kings modified by
a special document of the early monarchy, it seems preferable
his perception of the state, which was based upon his own
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

times in the Hellenistic period. He presents David as imme-
holy writ, David was also considered a prophet through
diately coming to the throne over all Israel after the death
whom God spoke and gave his revelation to Israel.
of Saul. There is no account of his struggle with Saul or of
Some elements in the Davidic tradition gave the rabbis
his warfare with Saul’s son, Ishbosheth. The whole of the
difficulty, most notably David’s sin of adultery with Bathshe-
court history has been excised as too derogatory. In its place
ba. Some attempted to exonerate him, but those who found
David becomes the real founder of the Temple, laying all the
him guilty of wrongdoing saw a divine purpose in the events,
plans, providing for all the workmanship and the materials,
namely that David was to be an example of contrition and
and even establishing the whole hierarchy of priestly and
repentance to give hope and encouragement to Israel when
Temple officials. Of particular importance for later tradition
it sinned (Midrash Tehillim 40.2, 51.1, 51.3). Another prob-
is the association of David with the Temple music, which
lem was the tradition that David was descended from Ruth
did much to identify him as the “sweet singer of Israel.” In
the Moabite (Ru. 4:17), since this would make him ineligible
this history David is completely idealized, and the time of
for participation in the congregation of Israel. As a compen-
David is an anachronistic legitimation for the ecclesiastical
sation, every attempt was made to enhance David’s genealog-
state that developed in the time of the Second Temple.
ical line and give him the strongest possible pedigree. The
DAVID AND THE PSALMS. David is directly mentioned in
dynastic promise to David represented the future hope of Is-
only a few psalms (78, 89, and 132), those that make refer-
rael, but many rabbis were concerned that it not be used for
ence to the dynastic promise, all of which are dependent
political or ideological manipulation by messianic adventur-
upon Samuel and Kings. In the Hebrew scriptures the super-
ers. At the same time the liturgical tradition continued to
scriptions, which are all late, and which modern scholarship
embody the hope in a restoration of the kingdom of David
considers secondary additions, attribute seventy-three psalms
in the age to come.
to David. This continues the tradition of David’s association
Christianity, as reflected in the New Testament, also
with the sacred music of the Temple. But in a number of in-
recognized David as author of the psalms, as an example of
stances the individual laments (e.g., Ps. 51) are associated
piety, and as a prophet of divine revelation; but the emphasis
with particular events in David’s life. Thus the psalms that
was clearly on the messianic aspects of the tradition. Since
were originally anonymous become increasingly associated
Jesus was identified as the Messiah, he received the title “son
with the figure of David.
of David,” although he repudiated the political connotation
DAVID IN PROPHECY. While the royal ideology had at most
of such a designation. Matthew and Luke, in their birth sto-
a minor place in preexilic prophecy, it was only in late proph-
ries, connect Jesus with Bethlehem, the city of David, and
ecy and in exilic and postexilic editing of prophetic books
supply genealogies that trace his lineage back to David.
that the dynastic promise to David plays a major role in vi-
David as prophet also bears witness in the psalms to Jesus
sions of the future (Is. 9:5–6 [Eng. version 6–7], 11:1–10,
as the Messiah (Acts 2:25–37).
61:1–7; Jer. 33:14–26; Ez. 34:23–24; Am. 9:11ff.; Mi. 5:1–3
Islam’s tradition about David is slight. The QurDa¯n
[EV 2–4]; Zec. 12:7–9). Hope is expressed for the restoration
knows of a few episodes in David’s life, such as the victory
of the Davidic dynasty and times of prosperity. In their most
over Goliath, but this and other stories are confused with
elaborate form these prophecies predict an “anointed one”
those of other biblical figures (2:252). The QurDa¯n also rec-
(the Messiah) who would manifest all the idealized attributes
ognizes that God gave Psalms to David as a divine book in
of royalty, liberate Israel from its enemies, and bring in the
much the same way as Moses and Muh:ammad received their
reign of Yahveh.
revelations (17:56).
The most important development in the Davidic tradition
in postbiblical Judaism was the regarding of David as the au-
Treatments of the historical periods of David’s reign may be
thor of the Psalter, or at least as author of most of the psalms
found in John Bright’s A History of Israel, 3d ed. (Philadel-
within it. This meant that David, as the composer of Israel’s
phia, 1981); the contribution by J. Alberto Soggin, “The
sacred hymns and prayers, was a model of Jewish piety. In
Davidic-Solomonic Kingdom,” in Israelite and Judaean His-
the psalms David speaks not only for himself but for all Isra-
tory, edited by John H. Hayes and J. Maxwell Miller (Phila-
delphia, 1977); and those by Benjamin Mazar and David N.
el. His praise represents the spiritual life of the worshiping
Freedman in The World History of the Jewish People, vol. 4,
community, and in his prayers he supplicates God for Israel
pt. 1, edited by Abraham Malamat (Jerusalem, 1979),
in all time to come. Furthermore, a number of the psalms
pp. 76–125.
have as their theme the glorification of the Law (Torah) and
The standard treatment on the story of David’s rise to power is
the ardent devotion of the psalmist to the study of the Law
Jakob H. Gro⁄nbaek’s Die Geschichte vom Aufstieg Davids, 1
day and night (Ps. 1, 19, 119). Consequently, David was
SAM. 15–2 SAM. 5: Tradition und Komposition, “Acta
viewed as a great authority on the Law, and his words and
Theologica Danica,” vol. 10 (Copenhagen, 1971). The clas-
example could often be invoked to settle a point at issue in
sic work on the so-called succession story is Leonhard Rost’s
the discussions of legal matters (halakhah) (B. T., Ber. 4a; B.
Die Überlieferung von der Thronnachfolge Davids, “Beiträge
T., Yev. 78b–79a). Since the Psalter came to be regarded as
zur Wissenschaft vom Alten und Neuen Testament,” vol. 3,
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

no. 6 (Stuttgart, 1926), translated by Michael D. Rutter and
mon, are now dated by Finkelstein and others to the follow-
David M. Gunn as The Succession to the Throne of David
ing ninth century. For example, Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer,
(Sheffield, 1982). Building upon this study was the impor-
which are said to be rebuilt by Solomon in 1 Kings 9:15, have
tant essay by Gerhard von Rad, “Der Anfang der Gesch-
been reinterpreted on the basis of pottery analysis, carbon-14
ichtsschreibung im Alten Israel,” Archiv für Kulturgeschichte
dating, and other means, as early ninth-century cities. Even
32 (Weimar, 1944): 1–42, translated by E. W. Trueman
if one might disagree with the new dating of these large cities,
Dicken as “The Beginning of Historical Writing in Ancient
however, one is still left with the numerous small settlements
Israel,” in Gerhard von Rad’s The Problem of the Hexateuch
and Other Essays
(Edinburgh, 1966), pp. 166–204. See also
elsewhere, especially in the south around Jerusalem. These
the studies by Roger N. Whybray, The Succession Narrative
small sites do not at all bear evidence of the significant politi-
(London, 1968), and David M. Gunn, The Story of King
cal reorganization or population and settlement growth that
David: Genre and Interpretation (Sheffield, 1982). A more
would have taken place with the united monarchy.
detailed treatment of my own views may be found in chapter
As for excavations in Jerusalem itself, the great capital
8 of my In Search of History: Historiography in the Ancient
World and the Origins of Biblical History
(New Haven,
of David and Solomon in the Bible, they have produced an
Conn., 1983).
almost total lack of evidence for significant tenth-century oc-
cupation. Either subsequent occupation of Jerusalem
For a more detailed treatment of the Jewish and Christian tradi-
throughout the centuries destroyed or obscured its monu-
tions with bibliography, see the article “David” in Theologis-
che Realenzyklopädie
, vol. 8 (New York, 1981).
mental buildings, or else Jerusalem was merely a highland
village in the tenth century, without the great temple and
palace of the Bible’s united monarchy. Population estimates
for the environs of Jerusalem and points south suggest that
only around five thousand people lived in that area, whereas
up to forty-five thousand lived in settlements north of Jerusa-
lem. Thus, it is unlikely that Jerusalem in the tenth century
The most important recent developments in the study of the
was the capital of a large kingdom, or a city of any particular
biblical king David have to do both with the degree of histo-
importance whatsoever, let alone the center of an empire
ricity of the Bible’s account and with new textual material.
stretching from Egypt to the Euphrates, as is described in 1
Fueled by a more skeptical approach to biblical historiogra-
Kings 4:21 for Solomon’s reign.
phy and by new interpretations of the archaeological evi-
dence, in recent years some scholars have come to question
Interpretations of the Tel Dan inscription, found at Tel
the historicity of the entire united monarchy of Israel (the
Dan in northern Israel in three fragments in 1993 and 1995,
biblical reigns of Saul, David, and Solomon). Nonetheless,
add to the discussion. Perhaps dating to just before 800 BCE,
the fragments of the Tel Dan inscription discovered in 1993
the inscription is written in Aramaic, probably by a king of
and 1995 seem to contain the first and only early mention
Aram who celebrates his defeat of a king of Israel and perhaps
so far of David outside the Bible.
also of a king of byt dwd, “the house (i.e., dynasty) of David.”
The fragments preserve at most only four words in each of
The Bible’s account of the united monarchy of Israel in
twenty-one lines, and thus it remains difficult to piece to-
1-2 Samuel and 1 Kings (part of the so-called Deuteronomis-
gether the historical situation that is commemorated. The
tic history) is no longer accepted by many scholars as accu-
simplest interpretation is that the inscription reflects the exis-
rate documentation about the tenth century BCE, but instead
tence at that time in some form of both Israel an early form
as an idealized portrayal of a past golden age. Some scholars
of Judah, with the latter signified by the name of the dynastic
(especially Thomas L. Thompson, Niels Peter Lemche, and
hero, David, from days long past.
Philip Davies) have gone so far as to argue that the united
monarchy never really existed but was merely the propagan-
However, while the Tel Dan inscription shows that
distic invention of post-exilic or even Hellenistic Jewish writ-
there was a byt dwd, “house of David,” recognized by Ar-
ers. According to this, the twin kingdoms of first Israel in the
ameans around 800 BCE, it does not prove the historicity of
ninth century and later its sister Judah in the seventh century
the biblical narratives concerning king David. (Note that it
would have arisen independently and would not have been
has also been suggested that the phrase byt dwd should be re-
the result of a split of Israel under Solomon’s son, Reho-
stored to line thirty-one of the Moabite inscription from the
boam, in the last quarter of the tenth century. Other schol-
late ninth-century BCE, but that proposal is problematic and
ars, however, maintain a pre-exilic or exilic date for the main
portions of the Deuteronomistic history, but suggest that the
In sum, the biblical narratives about David are particu-
Bible has exaggerated the extent and might of the historical
larly important for what they tell historians about political
David and Solomon’s tenth-century kingdom (e.g., Israel
theology, apologetic writing, and literary devices in biblical
Finkelstein, Neil Silberman, Amihai Mazar).
historiographic discourse. However, for the purpose of his-
With regard to the archaeology of tenth-century Israel,
torical reconstruction, the search for the historical kernel of
certain sites with monumental gates and palaces that had
the Davidic traditions may well belong to the realm of mod-
been previously connected to the reign of David’s son Solo-
ern apologetics and contemporary political theology.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

During the early centuries of Islamic history, da Ewah
On David, see especially S. L. McKenzie, King David: A Biography
often had strong political orientations when used to mean
(Oxford, 2000); Baruch Halpern, David’s Secret Demons:
a summons to support a claimant to Islamic rule. New move-
Messiah, Murderer, Traitor, King (Grand Rapids, Mich.,
ments would spread their ideologies of Islamic statehood
2001); and Amihai Mazar, et al., David, King of Israel: Alive
through highly organized and disciplined networks of infor-
and Enduring? (in Hebrew; Jerusalem, 1997).
mation and indoctrination. The most forceful and long-lived
Essential essays on biblical historiography and the historical recon-
da Ewah enterprise was the Sh¯ıE¯ı sect known as the
struction of the tenth century BCE include Thomas L.
Isma¯E¯ıl¯ıyah, which insisted that the true Muslim community
Thompson, Early History of the Israelite People from the Writ-
should be ruled by a politico-religious leader descended from
ten and Archaeological Sources (Leiden, 1992) and The Bible
in History: How Writers Create a Past
(London, 1999); Philip
the family of Muh:ammad through the line of Isma¯E¯ıl JaDfar
Davies’ In Search of Ancient Israel (Sheffield, U.K., 1992);
al-S:a¯diq (d. 756 CE), one of the great Sh¯ıE¯ı imams. The
Niels Peter Lemche, The Israelites in History and Tradition
Isma¯E¯ıl¯ıyah developed da Ewah into a comprehensive political
(London, 1998); V. Philips Long, Israel’s Past in Present Re-
theology aimed at their ultimate dominance of the Muslims.
search: Essays on Ancient Israelite Historiography (Winona
The movement inducted converts into a fanatically devoted
Lake, Ind., 1999); and Mario Liverani, “Nuovi sviluppi nella
community that observed a hierarchy of degrees of member-
studio della storia dell’Israele biblico,” Biblica 80 (1999):
ship, marked by initiation into ascending levels of esoteric
knowledge. The leaders at each level were called da¯ E¯ıs, “sum-
Archaeological studies of the tenth century BCE may be found in
moners,” who exercised authority by regions in which they
Israel Finkelstein, The Archaeology of the Israelite Settlement
preached and taught the doctrines of the movement. The
(Jerusalem, 1988), and a more popular presentation in Israel
da¯ E¯ıs were considered by the Isma¯E¯ıl¯ıyah to be the represen-
Finkelstein and Neil Silberman, The Bible Unearthed: Ar-
tatives of the imam. In some cases, the head da¯ E¯ı was the
chaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its
highest religious leader of a country, a sort of Sh¯ıE¯ı “bishop.”
Sacred Texts (New York, 2001). In opposition to Finkel-
stein’s dating of the “Solomonic” cities, but supporting the
More often, the da¯ E¯ıs functioned in an underground man-
idea that the extent of the united monarchy has been exag-
ner, spreading their doctrines in territories not under
gerated in the Bible, see Amihai Mazar, “Iron Age Chronolo-
Isma¯E¯ıl¯ı rule. As well as preaching and propaganda, advanced
gy: A Reply to I. Finkelstein,” Levant 29 (1997): 157–167.
theology and philosophy were major activities of the da¯ E¯ıs.
On the Tel Dan inscription see George Athas’s The Tel Dan In-
In the modern period, da Ewah most often refers to Is-
scription: A Reappraisal and a New Interpretation (Sheffield,
lamic missionary activities, which are increasingly character-
U.K., 2003).
ized by long-range planning, skillful exploitation of the
TAWNY L. HOLM (2005)
media, establishment of study centers and mosques, and ear-
nest, urgent preaching and efforts at persuasion.
Da Ewah as mission should never be spread by force
The Arabic term da Ewah (lit., “call, invitation,
(su¯rah 2:256). If the hearers refuse to embrace Islam, then
summoning”) is used especially in the sense of the religious
they should be left alone, at least for a time. But a committed
outreach or mission to exhort people to embrace Islam as the
Muslim should not give up the task of da Ewah. If nothing
true religion. The Arabic root d Ew occurs frequently in the
else succeeds, the silent example of a devout Muslim may be
QurDa¯n, where it can also mean calling upon God in prayer
used by God as a means to someone’s voluntary conversion.
(as in du Ea¯D). The QurDa¯n contains many imperatives to
spread Islam, as in su¯rah 16:125–126:
In the strong Islamic revival the post-colonial period,
Call [ud Eu] thou to the way of thy Lord with wisdom
da Ewah has a less specifically political and a more marked
and good admonition, and dispute with them in the
spiritual and moral emphasis than in earlier times. The
better way. Surely thy Lord knows very well those who
ummah, the Muslim community, is believed to transcend na-
have gone astray from his way, and he knows very well
tional political entities, and the shar¯ı Eah, the sacred law, is
those who are guided. And if you chastise, chastise even
said to make claims on Muslims even when it is not em-
as you have been chastised; and yet assuredly if you are
bodied as the actual legal code (except in certain countries).
patient, better it is for those patient. And be patient; yet
Da Ewah, then, is the cutting edge of Islam and as such is di-
it is thy patience only with the help of God.
rected at fellow believers as well as at the multitudes outside
Da Ewah can also mean simply an invitation to a mundane
the ummah who nevertheless possess the God-given fit:rah
affair, such as a meal, or propaganda for a political or sectari-
(su¯rah 30:30), or “inherent character,” also to be intentional
an cause. A specialized meaning of da Ewah has been the
Muslims and thus vicegerents (khulafa¯ D; s. g., kha-l¯ıfah, “ca-
quasi-magical practice of spell and incantation through invo-
liph”) of God on earth (2:30). From North Africa to Indone-
cation of the names of God and his good angels and jinn,
sia, and beyond, Muslim individuals and organizations are
in pursuit of personal goals such as healing, success in love
strenuously dedicated to missionary activities, utilizing the
or war, avoidance of evil, and other things. This occult prac-
media and other advanced means of communication and
tice became highly elaborated and included astrology, a mag-
“market research.” Da Ewah faculties are prominent in Mus-
ical alphabet, numerology, and alchemy.
lim training schools and universities, and the hope is that the
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

strong obligation to spread Islam will be felt by Muslims at
terlee and John Day. An opening in journalism for John Day
all levels of society. Da Ewah, as well as migration, is responsi-
took the family to San Francisco in 1903, but the earthquake
ble for the significant recent growth of Muslim populations
there, three years later, forced a removal to Chicago. In 1915
in Western countries.
the family moved to New York where Dorothy, having fin-
ished two years at the University of Illinois, began her own
SEE ALSO Shiism, article on Isma¯E¯ıl¯ıyah.
life in journalism as a reporter for the Socialist Call.
For the next five years she dabbled in radical causes,
moving from one cheap flat to another, mostly in the lower
Maurice Canard’s article “DaEwa,” in The Encyclopaedia of Islam,
New York area. In 1919 she left a hospital nurse’s training
new ed. (Leiden, 1960–), offers a detailed analysis with ex-
tensive source citations, although it does not treat modern
program to live with a flamboyant journalist, Lionel Moise.
Islamic mission. A provocative collection of exploratory es-
The affair ended with her having an abortion, a circumstance
says and discussions is Christian Mission and Islamic Da Ewah:
that filled her with such grief that she was brought to the
Proceedings of the Chambésy Dialogue Consultation, edited by
brink of suicide. Later, living in a fisherman’s shack on Stat-
Khurshid Ahmad and David Kerr (London and Ann Arbor,
en Island as the common-law wife of Forster Batterham, she
Mich., 1982), first published as a special issue of the Interna-
bore a daughter, Tamar Therese. Out of gratitude for her
tional Review of Mission 65 (October 1976). For an introduc-
daughter and a mystical rapture she felt in living on such
tion to da Ewah as occult spell and incantation, see the article
close terms with nature, she turned to God and was subse-
“DaEwah” in Thomas Patrick Hughes’s A Dictionary of Islam,
quently baptized a Catholic. In 1932 she met the French
2d ed. (London, 1896). A standard survey of Sh¯ıE¯ı sectarian
itinerant philosopher, Peter Maurin, and after some months
concepts and practices of da Ewah as propaganda is Bernard
of tutelage she acquired from him the idea of “the correlation
Lewis’s The Origins of Isma¯ E¯ılism (1940; reprint, New York,
of the spiritual with the material.” This was the beginning
point of her vision of social re-creation.
Her personality was remarkably forceful and engaging,
but she could be given to moments of authoritarian harsh-
ness. After a series of retreats during World War II, the unre-
DAY, DOROTHY (1897–1980), personalist revolu-
mitting struggle of her life was to grow in sanctity. In her
tionary, journalist, and lecturer. Between 1933, when she
later years the impression she gave was of one who had
brought out the first penny-a-copy issue of the Catholic
achieved a rare level of holiness. She died on November 29,
Worker, and 1980, when she died, Dorothy Day became, in
1980, and was buried at Jamestown, Long Island, not far
the opinion of many, America’s foremost Roman Catholic
from the site of her conversion.
voice calling for peace and a profound change in the major
institutional forms of the contemporary world. She opposed
what she regarded as the enslaving colossus of the modern
Dorothy Day wrote five books, all of which, from various perspec-
state and the technological giantism to which it was a part-
tives, are autobiographical. The best and most comprehen-
ner. Fundamental to her ideas of social reordering was her
sive is The Long Loneliness (New York, 1952). A full-length
biography is my Dorothy Day (New York, 1982), based on
insistence on the personal transformation of value based on
personal acquaintance with Day and for which I had access
the primary reality of spirit rather than the spirit of acquisi-
to all of her personal manuscript materials. An excellent edi-
tiveness. For her, this meant taking her directions from
tion of Day’s writings is Robert Ellsberg’s By Little and Little:
church tradition, the papal encyclicals, and her literal read-
The Selected Writings of Dorothy Day (New York, 1983).
ing of the Gospels. She used these sources to justify her abso-
lute pacifism and her communitarian ideas on social recon-
For Day, the ultimate and transfiguring value was love,
a subject that was the theme of her best writing. The exercise
DAYANANDA SARASVATI (1824–1883), leading
of a sacrificial love was at the heart of her personalist revolt
Hindu reformer and founder of the A¯rya Sama¯j, known by
against the enlarging domain over life of institutional forms.
the westernized form of his religious name, Daya¯nanda
The world would be renewed by persons who loved and not
Sarasvat¯ı. What is known of Dayananda’s early years comes
by state management. In her own case she chose to wage her
from two autobiographical statements made after he founded
revolution by establishing “houses of hospitality” in the des-
the A¯rya Sama¯j in 1875. Although he refused to reveal his
titute areas of lower Manhattan in New York City, by pro-
family and personal names or place of birth in order to pre-
moting communitarian farms, and by an immense writing
serve his freedom as a sam:nya¯sin (“renunciant”), these state-
and speaking regimen that left few Catholic parishes or
ments allow a reconstruction of his life before he became a
schools untouched by her ideas by the time of her death.
public figure.
She was born the third in a family of five children in
Dayananda claimed to have spent his childhood in a
Brooklyn on November 8, 1897, the daughter of Grace Sat-
small town—from his description, most likely Tankara—in
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

the princely state of Morvi in northern Kathiawar, now in
ing in Hindi and seeking a receptive audience for his mes-
Gujarat’s Rajkot district. His father was a high-caste brah-
sage. He found the first such audience in Bombay, where he
man landowner and revenue collector and a devout worship-
founded the A¯rya Sama¯j (“society of honorable ones”) on
er of S´iva. Dayananda received Vedic initiation at eight and
April 10, 1875. His major breakthrough, however, came two
began to study Sanskrit and the Vedas. Although his father
years later in the Punjab, where a rising class of merchants
preferred that he become a devotee of S´iva, an experience in
and professionals was seeking a defense of Hinduism against
the local S´iva temple undermined Dayananda’s faith that the
Christian missionary activity. A chapter of the A¯rya Sama¯j
temple icon was God, and turned him away from S´aiva ritual
was founded in Lahore in 1877, and this soon became the
practice involving images. The deaths of a sister and a be-
headquarters for a rapidly expanding movement in the Pun-
loved uncle a few years later made him realize the instability
jab and western Uttar Pradesh.
of worldly life, and when, around 1845, he learned that his
Dayananda left control of the A¯rya Sama¯j in the hands
family had secretly arranged his marriage, he fled to become
of local chapters and spent his last years perfecting his mes-
a homeless wanderer.
sage. He completed the revision of his major doctrinal state-
The young mendicant studied the monistic philosophy
ment, Satya¯rth praka¯s, shortly before his death on October
of the Upanis:ads with several teachers before being initiated
30, 1883. With final conviction, he declared that the Vedic
into an order of sam:nya¯sins as Dayananda Sarasvati in 1847.
hymns revealed to the r:s:is were the sole authority for truth,
He lived as an itinerant yogin for the next thirteen years, but
and he reaffirmed his faith in the one eternal God whose rev-
in 1860 he settled in Mathura to study with the Sanskrit
elation thus made salvation possible for all the world.
grammarian Vrija¯nanda (1779–1868). Vrija¯nanda, whom
Dayananda accepted as his guru, aided Dayananda in per-
SEE ALSO A¯rya Sama¯j.
fecting his Sanskrit and also convinced him that the only
truthful texts were those composed by the r:s:is (“seers”) be-
fore the Maha¯bha¯rata, since, he taught, all later works con-
Dayananda’s longest autobiographical statement appeared in The
Theosophist in three installments in 1879–1880. This state-
tained false sectarian doctrines. Dayananda committed him-
ment has been supplemented by an excerpt from one of his
self to spreading this message when he left his guru in 1863,
lectures in Poona in 1875 and published with explanatory
though it took him most of his life to decide which individu-
notes, a doctrinal statement, and a chronology of his life in
al texts were true and which were false.
Autobiography of Swami Dayanand Saraswati, edited by K. C.
Between 1863 and 1873, Dayananda spent most of his
Yadav (New Delhi, 1976). The best scholarly study of Daya-
time in small towns along the Ganges River in what is now
nanda’s life and thought is J. T. F. Jordens’s Daya¯nanda
Sarasvat¯ı, His Life and Ideas
(Delhi, 1978). A more focused
western Uttar Pradesh meeting representatives of various
analysis of the central element in Dayananda’s belief system
Hindu communities and debating sectarian pan:d:its. These
is provided by Arvind Sharma’s “Svami Dayananda Sarasvati
experiences confirmed his early doubts about image worship
and Vedic Authority,” in Religion in Modern India, edited by
and led him to reject all of the Hindu sectarian traditions—
Robert D. Baird (New Delhi, 1981), pp. 179–196. The stan-
not only Vais:n:avism, to which he had an early aversion, but
dard account of Dayananda’s life by one of his followers is
eventually even worship of the formless S´iva. In place of sec-
Har Bilas Sarda’s Life of Dayanand Saraswati, World Leader,
tarianism and the related religious and caste restrictions, he
2d ed. (Ajmer, 1968).
argued with growing conviction for a united Hinduism
based on the monotheism and morality of the Vedas.
Throughout this period Dayananda continued to dress
as a yogin in loincloth and ashes and debated only in San-
skrit; thus his message was restricted mainly to those ortho-
dox upper-caste Hindus who were most solidly opposed to
his views. Early in 1873, however, he spent four months in
Calcutta as the guest of the Bra¯hmo Sama¯j leader Deben-
dranath Tagore, met the great Bra¯hmo spokesman Keshab
DAY OF THE DEAD. The feast of All Saints Day and
Chandra Sen, and discussed religious issues with these and
the liturgical celebration of All Souls Day have long histories
other westernized Hindu intellectuals. Dayananda saw first-
in Western Christendom. The origins of these occasions in
hand the influence of the Bra¯hmo organization, learned the
the Christian yearly cycle are uncertain, but by the four-
value of educational programs, public lectures, and publica-
teenth century they ranked immediately after Christmas and
tions in effecting change, and accepted from Sen some valu-
Holy Week in importance, and their celebration had been
able advice to improve his own reception: abandon the loin-
fixed on November 1 for All Saints Day and November 2
cloth and the elitist Sanskrit in favor of street clothes and
(or November 3 if November 2 fell on a Sunday) for All
Souls Day. Since then these two festivities, most commonly
Dayananda left Calcutta with an unchanged message
known as the Days of the Dead, have been inextricably inter-
but a broader perspective and a new style, lecturing and writ-
related in the liturgy of the Western Church. At the onset
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

of, perhaps even as the result of, the Reformation and the
cal polytheistic pantheons. Whether or not the distinction
rise of modern science during the Renaissance, there was a
between God and saints is understood or explicitly made by
significant decline in the ritual and ceremonial underpin-
these subsocieties, the fact remains that in behavior and prac-
nings of Christendom, but in the New World (more precise-
tice these segments of Christendom are practicing
ly in the Catholic New World) the rites, ceremonies, and
monola¯try, not monotheism. Indeed at least in Catholicism
symbolic meaning of All Saints Day and All Souls Day have
it may be difficult to be a theologically pure monotheist.
been reinvigorated and in many ways have achieved their
maximum elaboration.
The feast of All Saints Day is in a sense democratic in
that it commemorates all the saints of God, canonized and
uncanonized, known and unknown. It is a rite of propitia-
memorates those individuals who in the service of the church
tion and intensification, in which the church celebrates the
have achieved that ambivalent status of “sainthood.” Al-
external glory of God in the company of those who are clos-
though the transcendentally different natures of the omnipo-
est to his perfection. The origins of the feast are lost, but
tent-omnipresent almighty God of Christian monotheism
there are indications that as early as the middle of the fourth
and its underlings, the saints, may be clearly understood and
explained by theologians, this has not been the case for sig-
century a day was set aside to commemorate the martyrs who
nificant segments of practicing Christians since probably the
had died before Christianity became the official religion of
formative period of Christianity between the first and fourth
the Roman Empire. Specifically May 13 commemorated all
the martyrs of Edessa (an important early center of Chris-
CE. Indeed there is plenty of historical evidence that
for sizable segments of Christendom the proliferation of
tianity, now the city of Urfa in southern Turkey), and it ap-
saints and their relationship to God have come to look suspi-
pears that this date soon spread to the western empire. By
ciously like polytheism and have led to practices incompati-
the early seventh century most bishoprics in the West cele-
ble with monotheism. Moreover there are anthropologists
brated on this day their own and other martyrs of Christen-
(Ralph Linton, John M. Roberts, L. Keith Brown, Hugo G.
dom. Some scholars doubt that there is a connection be-
Nutini) who maintain that the bulk of Christianity for cen-
tween May 13 and November 1, and no one has determined
turies has been practicing monolatry (or polylatry) and not
how and under what circumstances a feast of all saints came
monotheism—that is, that in behavior (psychologically) and
to be celebrated on the latter date. Scholars also are not
practice (ritually and ceremonially) no transcendental differ-
agreed as to when the category of “saint” or the status of
ence emerges between God and the saints, including the
“sainthood” appears in Christian theology and practice. It is
many manifestations of the Virgin Mary. This is certainly the
safe to assume, however, that there were no saints as ritual
case with Mesoamerican Indians in the early twenty-first
and ceremonial objects of worship until the beginning of the
century. Most contemporary Mexican Indians have not in-
seventh century. It is reasonable to surmise an evolution
ternalized the theological distinction between God and the
from martyr to saint, but the social and religious condition
saints, even if they somewhat vaguely understand it, and in
of this transformation and amalgamation are not clear. In
their actual religious behavior and practice God is little more
any case, by the beginning of the ninth century November
than a primus inter pares, a more powerful deity than the
1 was widely celebrated as the day of all martyrs and saints
many saints and the various forms of the Virgin Mary. Mexi-
in Western Christendom, and in the latter part of the elev-
can Indians, and often rural mestizos, often rank the village
enth century, during the papacy of Gregory VII, that date
patron saint higher than God the Father, God the Son, and
officially became All Saints Day in the modern sense of the
God the Holy Ghost or they center their Catholicism on the
feast. Since then All Saints Day has steadily increased in im-
cult of the Virgin of Guadalupe, thus in effect abandoning
portance as a ritual occasion in the yearly cycle, and in south-
the central tenet of monotheism.
ern Europe, especially Spain, it developed elaborate propor-
tions beginning in the early fourteenth century.
Lest the reader think that the syncretic nature of Cathol-
icism in this region of the New World is a special case, two
All Souls Day, November 2, is a liturgical celebration
examples from other parts of the world may be cited. In their
of the Western Church commemorating the “faithfully de-
ranking and expressive analysis of the saints as conceived and
parted”—that is, those who have died within the fold of the
practiced by Chinese Catholics in Hong Kong, John M.
church. It is observed as a day for honoring and rejoicing
Roberts and John T. Myers found that the array of Catholic
with those who are in heaven, offering prayers for those who
supernaturals (God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy
are in purgatory so that they may soon enter the kingdom
Ghost, several dozen saints, and half a dozen manifestations
of heaven, and in general supplicating with the dead to watch
of the Virgin Mary) was similar to the Chinese pantheon of
over the living and thanking them for past intercessions. All
gods. The respondents conceived of these Catholic supernat-
Souls Day is a yearly rite of propitiation and thanksgiving
urals as gods who have definite rankings and spheres of ac-
and, in the popular conscience, a veritable cult of the dead.
tion. In many peasant communities in the West as well—
Indeed it is a form of ancestor worship somewhat reminis-
such as southern Italy, Sicily, and southern Spain—the saints
cent of the Roman gods of the household, the lares and pena-
are conceived as deities of sorts, with powers in their own
tes (the feast of Parentalia), from which it probably devel-
right and not infrequently arranged in arrays similar to classi-
oped. Among the many organizational, ritual, ceremonial,
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

and symbolic examples of syncretism as Christianity devel-
Souls Day never acquired official liturgical status—further
oped out of the confluence of Hebrew monotheism and
evidence that the church was unwilling to formally sanction
Roman polytheism, All Souls Day is one of the clearest.
a celebration so pregnant with pagan elements and unchris-
tian evocations. All Souls Day came to have liturgical status
Until well into the Middle Ages the church was reluc-
only by custom. Nonetheless by the second half of the fif-
tant to establish a specific liturgical day for propitiating and
teenth century All Saints Day and All Souls Day were liturgi-
thanking the dead. The reason for this reluctance was the de-
cal feasts celebrated as a unit and ranked among the four
sire to dissociate the church from the persistent and tena-
most important occasions in the yearly ritual cycle of West-
cious pre-Christian rites and ceremonies of the cult of the
ern Christendom.
dead and ancestor worship, widespread among all branches
of Indo-European polytheism, which from the beginning the
What the church was up against throughout the Dark
church regarded as “superstitious” and theologically impure.
and Middle Ages is well known; the situation has been repli-
The efforts of the early church fathers (Augustine, Jerome,
cated several times during the past five hundred years in the
Athanasius, Boniface, and Chrysostom) to render what they
context of the expansion of western European peoples
regarded as superstitious and heretic remains of the polythe-
throughout the world. With specific reference to All Souls
istic past (many aspects of witchcraft and sorcery, rites and
Day, many beliefs and practices of pagan origins or corrup-
ceremonies associated with particular festivities and the cult
tions of Orthodox Christian beliefs concerning the dead were
of the gods, the cult of the dead itself, and so on) indicate
associated with this celebration and ancillary concerns.
that a significant amalgam of beliefs and practices of the old
Throughout Western Christendom, these beliefs and prac-
and new religions already existed. By the beginning of the
tices survived until well into the sixteenth century. With the
eighth century, at least in the circum-Mediterranean area,
onset of secularization in Western society, they were dis-
many aspects of Christianity had been significantly syncre-
placed to marginal areas and to the lower levels of the social
tized. Despite these efforts and the efforts of subsequent
order, but they are still found in circum-Mediterranean areas
theologians, as Christianity spread to more marginal areas of
and in other parts of Europe.
Europe, syncretism placed a permanent mark on several
BELIEFS AND PRACTICES. Among the best-known beliefs and
practices of the Christian faith. More than the other two
practices that were associated with the All Souls Day complex
great branches of monotheism (Judaism and Islam), Chris-
and relevant to the cult of the dead, the following may be
tianity has been unable to divest itself completely of polythe-
mentioned. During the vigil of November 2 the souls of the
istic beliefs and practices out of which it arose. Christian
dead came back in spirit to bless the household where they
theologians have always insisted on an ideologically pure mo-
had died. On November 2 the souls in purgatory came back
notheism, and ever since the church became an imperial
in the form of phantoms, witches, and toads, lizards, and
force in the middle of the fourth century, it has successfully
other repellent animals in order to scare or harm persons who
obliterated deviations that smacked of polytheism, panthe-
wronged or injured them during their lives. Food offerings
ism, monolatry, and other deviant supernatural conceptions.
were made to the dead in the cemeteries, ritually disposed
Nevertheless the syncretic aspects of Christianity have mani-
of by those concerned after the souls had symbolically tasted
fested themselves in many contexts and segments of Chris-
the food. Special food offerings, consisting of a dish or drink
tian worship, and theologians, sometimes to their embarrass-
that he or she had particularly liked, were made to prominent
ment, have had to accommodate rituals, beliefs, and
departed members of the household. Garments that had
behaviors with a distinct polytheistic, pantheistic, or
been worn by particularly good or pious members of the
monolatrous character within a strict monotheistic ideology.
household were displayed on the family altar so that the souls
The often marked dichotomy between theology and practice
would rejoice upon contemplating such a display of affection
appears to be a constant from Christianity’s folk beginnings
and become effective protectors of their living kin. The way
to its imperial maturity during the first half of the sixteenth
to the house was marked by recognized signposts of flowers
and other decorations so that the returning souls could more
easily find their earthly homes. This veritable cult of the dead
Although prayers to the dead were encouraged from ear-
during the Dark and Middle Ages had probably changed lit-
liest times, the church, for the reasons given above, was slow
tle since Roman times.
in giving liturgical recognition to the rites and ceremonies
concerning the dead that probably had been going on for
All Saints Day, on the other hand, was rather heavily
centuries in many parts of Christendom. However, Pentecost
influenced by northern Indo-European polytheism and by
Monday was dedicated to the worship of the dead in Spain
the liturgical feasts of the Byzantine (Orthodox, Armenian)
by the middle of the seventh century. For reasons unknown,
and Coptic churches, which in turn were doubly influenced
November 2 was set aside for commemoration of All Souls
by other Near Eastern polytheistic systems. Both the Ger-
Day, a practice that was well established in the Cluniac
manic and Celtic traditions, particularly the latter, celebrated
monasteries in northern France by the middle of the twelfth
in the late autumn a complex of rites and activities associated
century—that is, not long after November 1 had officially
with the end of harvest and the impending arrival of winter
become All Saints Day. Unlike All Saints Day, however, All
and intended to honor the gods of agriculture and natural
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

elements. During the process of conversion to Christianity,
Spain this may be attributable to the Christian reconquest
the church condemned this complex as dealing with the devil
of Spain from the Moors in particular and Muslims inputs
and dabbling in witchcraft and sorcery. In the British Isles
in general, but the evidence is not conclusive. It is certain,
this was the celebration of Samhain, which has survived
however, that the Dominican order was instrumental in en-
among English- and Gaelic-speaking peoples and is variously
hancing the importance of All Saints Day–All Souls Day
known as Hallow E’en, Allhallows, Hallowmas, and most
during the fifteenth century. For example, the Dominicans
commonly Halloween. Probably by the middle of the fif-
initiated the custom of having a priest celebrate three masses
teenth century Halloween had coalesced as a syncretic com-
for the eternal glory and rest of the faithfully departed on All
ponent of English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh Catholicism.
Souls Day. This action gained quick acceptance throughout
By that time the high point of the celebration was the vigil
Spain, and All Souls Day became ritually more important
of All Saints Day, and since then Halloween has been inti-
than All Saints Day. (This apparently never happened in any
mately associated with this liturgical feast as well as All Souls
other country of western Europe.) By the middle of the fif-
Day. The Protestant Reformation kept the celebration of All
teenth century the combined celebration of All Saints Day
Saints Day, but for several reasons (most significantly the de-
and All Souls Day in Spain was commonly referred to as
nial of the belief in purgatory) it abolished the feast of All
Todos Santos. This combined liturgical celebration had be-
Souls Day. With the increasing secularization of northern
come increasingly important and ranked just below Christ-
European societies, the Halloween–All Saints Day complex
mas and Holy Week in the yearly ritual cycle of Spanish Ca-
was transformed into what it is in the early twenty-first cen-
tholicism, popularly if not theologically. It was in this form
tury, a secular feast. In many parts of northern Europe, how-
that Todos Santos was introduced into the New World by
ever, the church was never able to stamp out completely
the mendicant friars in the first half of the sixteenth century,
many beliefs and practices associated with regional complex-
and All Souls Day has remained the most ritually significant
es that were instrumental in shaping the combined liturgical
of the two days.
celebration of All Saints Day and All Souls Day. Thus even
In Mexico the Day of the Dead is also known as Todos
in the early twenty-first century, from Ireland to Russia, the
Santos and, after Christmas and Holy Week (Easter), is the
ethnographer or folklorist finds survivals of these beliefs and
most important celebration in the annual religious cycle. In
practices (related mainly to food, drink, and special rites per-
several respects it is more elaborate than in Spain due to its
formed in the household or cemetery) among peasant and
syncretic component, which reinforced the Spanish Day of
rural folk.
the Dead with similar beliefs and practices of Pre-Hispanic
polytheism. The celebration of Todos Santos has three main
The syncretic background of All Saints Day in the By-
components: the offerings to the dead on the household
zantine Church is not well known and still less that of the
altar, the decoration of the graves in the cemetery, and the
Coptic Church. However, the contemporary celebration of
celebration of the different kinds of dead from Palm Sunday
All Saints Day and All Souls Day in the East indicates that
to Easter Sunday. All three of these components, but particu-
syncretism there was perhaps more influenced by pagan ele-
larly the last, are heavily laden with pre-Hispanic elements.
ments than in the West. The celebrations of the Greek and
Moreover the sociological significance of the Todos Santos
Armenian Churches appear to be more diversified and exhib-
greatly departs from its Spanish antecedents. November 1
it more traits of early Christian origin that is the case in the
and 2, the central core of the celebration, are homecoming
Western Churches. The Eastern Churches celebrate All Souls
for Mexican folk people (rural Indian and mestizo communi-
Day on several different dates: the Greek Church on the Sat-
ties); those who have migrated to the city return to visit their
urday before Sexagesima Sunday (the second Sunday before
kin and together remember the dead, and if they do not re-
Lent); the Armenian Church on Easter Sunday (as in Spain
turn for three consecutive years, they are no longer regarded
in the seventh century). The most interesting celebration of
as members of the community. Throughout the Todos San-
All Souls Day is in the Syrian-Antiochene Church. On the
tos cycle (from a week before to a week after November 1)
Friday before Septuagesima (the third Sunday before Lent),
people are on their best behavior, exchange offerings, and
dead priests are honored; on Friday before Sexagesima, all
make special efforts to intensify kinship, ritual kinship (com-
the blessed souls in heaven and purgatory are worshipped;
padrazgo), and friendship relationships. This, in other words,
and on Friday before Quinquagesima (the first Sunday be-
is a “sacralized” period or a kind of treuga Dei (truth of God)
fore Lent), all those who have died away from home and par-
in the community’s annual cycle.
ents and friends are remembered. An even more elaborate di-
vision of labor in the celebration of All Souls Day is present
SEE ALSO Afterlife, article on Mesoamerican Concepts; Fu-
in rural Tlaxcala, Mexico. Perhaps there is a connection with
neral Rites, article on Mesoamerican Funeral Rites.
the Syrian-Antiochene rites, or it may be simply a continua-
tion of pre-Hispanic practices.
Duchesne, Louis. Le Liber Pontificalis. Paris, 1955–1957. An in-
It is probably in southern Italy and Spain that the cele-
dispensable source for reconstructing the evolution of All
bration of the combined feasts of All Saints Day and All
Saints Day and All Souls Day throughout the Dark and Mid-
Souls Day acquired its most complex and elaborate form. In
dle Ages.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

Gaillard, Jacques. Catholicisme. Paris, 1950. From the Catholic
Svarog probably hammered the sun into shape and placed
standpoint, this book offers many insights into the chronolo-
it in the sky. For the chroniclers, he was identical with Heli-
gy, evolution, and interrelationship of All Saints Day and All
os.) The importance of this god is attested in the thirteenth-
Souls Day.
century Old Russian epic Slovo o polku Igoreve, where the
Hatch, Jane M. The American Book of Days. New York, 1978. A
phrase “grandchildren of Dazhbog” is used to refer to the
good source on the origins of All Saints Day in late antiquity
Russian people.
and on the celebration of All Saints Day and All Souls Day
in the United States.
Dazhbog seems to have been one of the various manifes-
Hennig, John. “The Meaning of All the Saints.” Medieval Studies
tations of the Indo-European god of the “shining sky” or
10 (1948): 132–167. Provides a good account of the evolu-
“heavenly light.” In the Kievan pantheon his name appears
tion of the cult of the dead in Western Christendom.
next to that of Khors, another sun deity (cf. Persian khurs¯ıd,
“sun”), and he was identified with the Greek god Apollo by
Kellner, Karl Adam Heinrich. Heortology. London, 1908. A good
source in English on Catholic festivals with detailed informa-
early Russian translators. Dazhbog is possibly an analogue of
tion on the celebration of All Saints Day and All Souls Day.
the northwestern Slavic deity Svarozhich (Svarozˇicˇi, Zuaris-
cici; “son of Svarog”), who was worshiped in the temple at
Lane, Sarah, Marilyn Turkovich, and Peggy Mueller. Los Días de
Radigast (Rethra), near Feldberg, in present-day northern
los Muertos, The Days of the Dead. Chicago, 1987. A useful
source that includes some interesting ideas on the belief sys-
Germany. There, as noted in 1014 by Thietmar, bishop of
tem and realization of Todos Santos in Spanish-speaking
Merseburg, were a number of carved idols dressed in armor
and helmets, each dedicated to some aspect of the god. The
most important one was that of Svarozhich.
Leies, John A. Sanctity and Religion according to St. Thomas. Fri-
bourg, Switzerland, 1963. An excellent source for under-
In Roman Jakobson’s view, Dazhbog, like the Vedic
standing the concept of sainthood in Catholicism and how
Bhaga, is “the giver of wealth,” and the name of Dazhbog’s
it is related to dead souls in general and the role saints play
immediate neighbor in the Kievan pantheon, Stribog, means
as mediators between humans and the deity.
literally—like that of Bhaga’s partner Amsa—“the appor-
Linton, Ralph, and Adelin Linton. Halloween through Twenty
tioner of wealth” (see Jakobson, 1972). The name Dazhbog
Centuries. New York, 1950. An excellent account of Hallow-
is a compound of dazh’ (the imperative form of dati, “to
een, its evolution throughout the centuries, and how it is re-
give”) and bog (“god”). Both Slavs and Iranians eliminated
lated to the Christian cult of the dead.
the Proto-Indo-European name for the “god of heavenly
Nutini, Hugo G. Todos Santos in Rural Tlaxcala: A Syncretic, Ex-
light,” *dieus, and assigned the general meaning of “god” to
pressive, and Symbolic Analysis of the Cult of the Dead. Prince-
a term that originally signified both wealth and its giver, bog.
ton, N.J., 1988. This book provides an exhaustive account
The origin of the name Dazhbog may go back to the period
of the Days of the Dead in Tlaxcala in the early twenty-first
of close Slavic-Iranian contacts, not later than the Scythian-
century, including the syncretic origins of the cult of the
dead in the interaction of sixteenth-century Spanish Catholi-
Sarmatian period.
cism and Mesoamerican Indian polytheism.
In Serbian folk beliefs, Dabog (i.e., Dazhbog) is an ad-
Radó, Polikarp. Enchiridion Liturgicum. 2 vols. Rome, 1961. A
versary of the Christian God: “Dabog is tsar on earth, and
good handbook on Catholic liturgical practices that includes
the Lord God is in heaven.” Dabog is also known as “the sil-
many entries on the cult of the saints and the cult of the
ver tsar”; in mining areas as Dajboi, a demon; and as Daba
or Dabo, the devil.
Las Tradiciones de Días de Muertos en México. Mexico City, 1987.
Good regional descriptions of beliefs and practices of All
Saints Day and All Souls Day for an area of Christendom
where the Day of the Dead is probably most pronounced.
ˇ ajkanovic´, Veselin. O srpskom vrhovnom bogu. Posebna izdanja,
Srpska Kraljevska Akademija, vol. 132. Belgrade, 1941.
Dickenmann, E. “Serbokroatisch Dabog.” Zeitschrift für slavische
Philologie (Leipzig) 20 (1950): 323–346.
Jagic´, V. “Mythologische Skizzen: 2, Dazˇdbog, Dazˇbog-Dabog.”
was the pre-Christian sun god of the East
Archiv für slavische Philologie (Leipzig) 5 (1881): 1–14.
and South Slavs. The name Dazhbog (Old Russian,
Dazh’bog) is first mentioned in the Kievan pantheon, listed
Jakobson, Roman. “Slavic Mythology.” In Funk and Wagnalls
in the Russian Primary Chronicle (c. 1111 CE). His connec-
Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend
tion with the sun is clearly stated in the Malalas Chronicle
(1949–1950), edited by Maria Leach, vol. 2,
of 1114: “Tsar Sun is the son of Svarog, and his name is
pp. 1025–1028. Reprint, 2 vols. in 1, New York, 1972.
Dazhbog.” (Svarog, the creator of the sun, is identified in
New Sources
Greek translation with the smith Hephaistos. Like his Lithu-
Kapica, F. S. Slavyanskije tradicionnije verovanija, prazdniki i ritu-
anian counterpart, the heavenly smith Kalvelis, whose
ali [Slavic traditional beliefs, festivities and rituals]. Moscow,
achievement is described in the Volynian Chronicle of 1252,
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

Shaparova, N. S. Kratkaya enciklopedija slavyanskoj mifologii [A
In a similar vein, Ida Paladino has tried to present Dea
short dictionary of Slavic mythology]. Moskva, Astrelj, 2001.
Dia as a minor paredros of Fors Fortuna. Paladino thinks
that, with the Lares, also present in the lucus of the Arvals,
Revised Bibliography
and Diana (whose name relies on the same etymon), Fors
Fortuna shared a marginal position, as well as a link to Servi-
us Tullius and the plebs. When Augustus reformed this cult,
he preferred, according to Paladino, the less plebeian goddess
Dea Dia. According to an isolated inscription from Ami-
ternum (CIL I, 2d ed., 1846), Dea Dia herself could be of
Sabine origin.
DEA DIA. The worship of the Roman goddess Dea Dia
As Henri Le Bonniec (1958, p. 202) has shown, Dea
was in the hands of a priesthood of twelve, the fratres arvales
Dia cannot possibly be taken as another form of Ceres be-
(Arval brethren), and she possessed a shrine in a grove out-
cause the ritual of the Arval brethren, which is the best
side Rome at the fifth (or sixth, depending on the period)
known in ancient Rome, forbids this assimilation. Moreover,
milestone on the Via Campana, in the modern suburb of La
the Arval proceedings never mention Ceres (the hypothesis
Magliana. The deity, her cult, and her priesthood supposedly
of Kurt Latte that her “real” name was secret and taboo is
date back to very early in Roman history, but they under-
not convincing). And generally speaking, the trend of in-
went a major renovation by Augustus (r. 27 BCE–14 CE).
digitation, as surmised by Greek and Roman antiquarians
From the previous period, we only know of the existence of
and grammarians, has been denied pertinence in religious
the arvales and of a public sacrifice, mentioned by Varro (De
history (Le Bonniec, 1958, p. 203). Accordingly Ileana
lingua latina 5, 74). The site itself bears testimony of cultic
Chirassi-Colombo and Robert Schilling have reconsidered
occupation since at least the third century BCE. But it is im-
the problem. Both start with the name of the goddess, from
possible to be sure whether these items belonged to Dea Dia
dius (luminous) and diuum (sky), and consider her as the
or to Fors Fortuna, who possessed a temple on the same spot.
goddess of the sky (Chirassi, 1968) or of the beneficial light
After Augustus’s reform the priesthood consisted of
necessary to agriculture (Schilling, 1969; Franz Altheim
twelve members chosen by cooptation from the most distin-
[1931] links her, unconvincingly, to the moon). Chirassi
guished families. The reigning emperor was always a mem-
considers this Dia as an archaic paredros of Jupiter, or Dius,
ber. The reorganization was one element in Augustus’s policy
with whom she is supposed to have formed a couple repre-
of directing enthusiasm for his person and policies into tradi-
senting the sky and the earth.
tional religious channels. Under the empire the Arval
brethren offered sacrifices not only to Dea Dia but to a wide
Referring to the cultic evidence, Schilling shows that the
variety of divinities to secure the health and prosperity of the
name Dea Dia is an emphatic doublet, meaning literally,
emperor and his family. Along with sometimes lengthy de-
“the celestial goddess.” According to the Arval proceedings,
scriptions of the rituals celebrated in the grove of Dea Dia,
Dea Dia performed her divine function between the periods
and of other sacrifices of the brotherhood in Rome, the re-
of sowing and harvesting and was thus the good light of
cords of the Arval brethren were inscribed on marble, and
heaven that brought the crops from germination to matura-
numerous fragments have been preserved. These records, ex-
tion. This is evident in both the date and the ritual of her
tending from 21
festival. Her feast was always held in May, about a month
BCE to 241 CE, are a major source for tradi-
tional Roman religion in the imperial age. The cult and its
before the beginning of the harvest in central Italy. Its exact
priesthood are documented as late as 304
date was announced in January, on the 7th or the 11th. The
ritual at her festival employed, among other offerings (a
Dea Dia, who was the owner of the lucus fratrum arvali-
lamb, meatballs, sweet wine, and pastries), green ears from
um and the main addressee of the cult celebrated by the Arval
the current crop, together with dried ears of grain from the
brethren, is only known by the proceedings of this brother-
previous year’s crop. The other gods and goddesses men-
hood. Thus, there has been much speculation about her
tioned in her lucus are to be considered her assistants or her
identity. During the nineteenth century, when scholars tend-
guests; the precise link to her neighbor Fors Fortuna is not
ed to assimilate gods, Wilhelm Henzen (1874, p. ix) saw her
known. The temple and the grove of Dea Dia could have
as a goddess similar to Ceres, if not Ceres herself. In the
been built at La Magliana only after Augustus’s reform,
Römische Mythologie (1831) of Ludwig Preller and Heinrich
which could have so monumentalized an aristocratic ritual.
Jordan, Dea Dia was supposed to embody certain aspects of
the numen otherwise venerated under the names of Ceres,
SEE ALSO Arval Brothers; Roman Religion, article on the
Tellus, and perhaps Ops or Acca Larentia (see also Fowler,
Early Period.
1911, p. 435; Wissowa, 1912, p. 195). One also finds assimi-
lations to Diana, Hebe, and the Mother of the Gods. In
short, Dea Dia was supposed to be an indigitation (the as-
The records of the Arval Brothers are available in Acta Fratrum Ar-
similation of minor deities to one major god or goddess) of
valium, edited by Wilhelm Henzen (Berlin, 1874, also CIL
Ceres or another goddess linked to agriculture.
VI, 2023–2119; 32338–32398), and in Commentarii
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

fratrum arvalium qui supersunt: Les copies épigraphiques des
politan of Jerusalem, and to Eliezer Sukenik, a professor rep-
protocoles annuels de la confrérie arvale (21 av.-304 ap. J.-C.),
resenting the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The scrolls in
edited with a French translation by John Scheid (Rome,
the possession of the Syrian metropolitan were purchased in
1998). Some of the records can be found in translation in
1954 by Yigael Yadin, Sukenik’s son, on behalf of the He-
Frederick C. Grant’s Ancient Roman Religion (New York,
brew University.
1957), pp. 233–238, and in Roman Civilization, vol. 2, ed-
ited by Naphtali Lewis and Meyer Reinhold (New York,
Scientific exploration of the cave in 1949 by G. Lankes-
1955), pp. 254–257.
ter Harding and Roland de Vaux uncovered additional frag-
A survey and study of the problems posed by the character and
ments and many broken jars. From 1951 on, a steady stream
cult of Dea Dia is offered by John Scheid in Romulus et ses
of manuscripts has been provided by bedouin and archaeolo-
frères: Le collège des frères arvales, modèle du culte public dans
gists. Some of these manuscripts are held in the Archaeologi-
la Rome des empereurs (Rome, 1990). For details see Wilhelm
cal (Rockefeller) Museum in East Jerusalem. Many are dis-
Henzen, Acta fratrum Arvalium quae supersunt (Berlin,
played in the beautiful Shrine of the Book, a part of the Israel
1874); Ludwig Preller and Heinrich Jordan, Römische
Museum built especially for the display and preservation of
Mythologie, 3d ed. (Berlin, 1881), vol. 2, p. 26; William W.
the scrolls.
Fowler, The Religious Experience of the Roman People (Lon-
don, 1911); Georg Wissowa, Religion und Kultus der Römer,
DATING. From the beginning, the dating of the scrolls was
2d ed. (Munich, 1912); Franz Altheim, Terra mater: Unter-
a matter of controversy. Some saw the new texts as docu-
suchungen zur altitalischen Religionsgeschichte (Berlin, 1931);
ments of the medieval Jewish sect of the Karaites. Others be-
Henri Le Bonniec, Le culte de Cérès à Rome: Des origines à
lieved they dated from the Roman period, and some even
la fin de la République (Paris, 1958); Ileana Chirassi, “Dea
thought they were of Christian origin.
Dia e Fratres Arvales,” Studi e materiali di storia delle religioni
39 (1968): 191–291; Robert Schilling, “Dea Dia dans la li-
Of primary importance for dating the scrolls was the ex-
turgie des frères Arv ales,” in Hommages à Marcel Renard, ed-
cavation of the building complex immediately below the
ited by Jacqueline Bibauw (Brussels, 1969), vol. 2,
caves on the plateau. In the view of most scholars, those who
pp. 675–679; and Ida Paladino, Fratres Arvales: Storia di un
lived in the complex copied many of the scrolls and were part
collegio sacerdotale romano (Rome, 1988).
of the sect described in some of the texts. Numismatic evi-
J. R
dence has shown that the complex flourished from circa 135
BCE to 68 CE, interrupted only by the earthquake of 31 BCE.
Similar conclusions resulted from carbon dating of the
cloth wrappings in which the scrolls were found. Study of
the paleography (the form of the Hebrew letters) in which
The manuscripts unearthed
the texts are written has also supported a similar dating. It
between 1947 and 1956 in the Judean desert, in caves along
is certain, then, that the scrolls once constituted the library
the coast of the Dead Sea, have come to be known collective-
of a sect that occupied the Qumran area from after the Mac-
ly as the Dead Sea Scrolls. The main body of materials comes
cabean Revolt of 166–164 BCE until the great revolt against
from Qumran, near the northern end of the Dead Sea, 8.5
Rome of 66–74 CE.
miles (13.7 km) south of Jericho. Other texts, including the
Masada scrolls and the Bar Kokhba texts, are occasionally
THE SCROLLS. The many scrolls that were found in the
also referred to as Dead Sea Scrolls, but this article will per-
Qumran caves can be divided into three main categories: bib-
tain only to the Qumran scrolls themselves. These scrolls
lical manuscripts, apocryphal compositions, and sectarian
constituted the library of a sect of Jews in the Greco-Roman
period that has been identified by most scholars as the
Fragments of every book of the Hebrew scriptures have
been unearthed at Qumran, with the sole exception of the
DISCOVERY. In the second half of the nineteenth century,
Book of Esther. Among the more important biblical scrolls are
Hebrew manuscripts discovered in the genizah
the two Isaiah scrolls (one is complete) and the fragments of
(“storehouse”) of the Ben Ezra synagogue in Cairo began cir-
Leviticus and Samuel (dated to the third century BCE). Wil-
culating in Europe. Much of this collection, known as the
liam Albright and Frank Moore Cross have detected three
Cairo Genizah, was acquired for the University of Cam-
recensional traditions among the scrolls at Qumran: (1) a
bridge by Solomon Schechter in 1896. Among these texts
Palestinian, from which the Samaritan Pentateuch is ulti-
was a strange composition, known as the Zadokite Fragments
mately descended, (2) an Alexandrian, upon which the Sep-
or the Damascus Document, that outlined the life and teach-
tuagint (the Greek translation of the Bible) is based, and (3)
ings of a Jewish sect. Eventually, this same text was found
a Babylonian, which serves as the basis of the Masoretic (re-
at Qumran.
ceived and authoritative) text fixed by rabbis in the late first
There, in 1947, a young bedouin entered what is now
designated Cave I and found a group of pottery jars contain-
The apocryphal and pseudepigraphical writings were
ing leather scrolls wrapped in linen cloths. These scrolls, the
known until recently only in Greek and Latin transla-
first finds, were sold to Athanasius Samuel, the Syrian metro-
tion. The Cairo Genizah yielded Hebrew and Aramaic frag-
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

ments of medieval recensions. Among the important frag-
According to the sect’s own description of its history,
ments found at Qumran are Ben Sira, Jubilees, Aramaic
it had come into existence when its earliest members, appar-
fragments of the Enoch books, the Testament of Levi, and ad-
ently Zadokite priests, decided to separate themselves from
ditions to Daniel.
the corrupt Judaism of Jerusalem and left to set up a refuge
at Qumran. The sect was organized along rigid lines. There
By far the most interesting materials are the writings of
was an elaborate initiation procedure, lasting several years,
the sect that inhabited Qumran. The pesharim are the sect’s
during which members were progressively received at the rit-
biblical commentaries, which seek to show how the present
ually pure banquets of the sect. All legal decisions of the sect
premessianic age is the fulfillment of the words of the proph-
were made by the sectarian assembly, and its own system of
ets. Prominent among these texts are the pesharim to Habak-
courts dealt with violations and punishments of the sectarian
kuk, Nahum, and Psalms, and the florilegia, which are chains
interpretation of Jewish law. New laws were derived by ongo-
of verses and comments. The commentaries allow us a
ing inspired biblical exegesis.
glimpse of the sect’s self-image and allude to actual historical
figures who lived at the time during which Qumran was oc-
Annual covenant renewal ceremonies took place in
which the members of the sect were called to assemble in
The Damascus Document describes the history of the
order of their status. Similar mustering was part of the sect’s
sect and its attitudes toward its enemies. It also contains a
preparations for the eschatological battle. The Qumran sect
series of legal tracts dealing with various topics of Jewish law,
believed that in the End of Days, two messiahs would appear,
including the Sabbath, courts and testimony, relations with
a Davidic messiah who was to be the temporal authority, and
non-Jews, oaths and vows, and so forth.
a priestly messiah of Aaron, who was to take charge of the
restored sacrificial cult. They were both to preside over a
Admission into the sect, the conduct of daily affairs, and
great messianic banquet. Meals of the sect were periodically
the penalties for violating the sect’s laws are the subjects of
eaten in ritual purity in imitation of this final banquet.
the Manual of Discipline. This text makes clear the role of
ritual purity and impurity in defining membership in the sect
The sect maintained a strictly solar calendar rather than
as well as detailing the annual mustering ceremony of cove-
the solar-lunar calendar utilized by the rest of the Jewish
nant renewal. Appended to it are the Rule of the Community,
community. The sect was further distinguished by its princi-
which describes the community in the End of Days, and the
ple of communal use of property. Although private owner-
Rule of Benedictions, which contains praises of the sect’s
ship was maintained, members of the sect could freely use
each other’s possessions. The scrolls themselves refute the
widespread view that the sectarians of Qumran were celibate.
The Thanksgiving Scroll contains a series of poems de-
scribing the “anthropology” and theology of the sect. Many
IDENTIFICATION OF THE SECT. Dominant scholarly opinion
scholars see its author as the “teacher of righteousness” (or
has identified the Dead Sea sect as the Essenes described in
“correct teacher”) who led the sect in its early years.
the writings of Philo Judaeus and Josephus Flavius of the first
century CE. Indeed, there are many similarities between this
The Scroll of the War of the Sons of Light against the Sons
group and the sect described by the scrolls.
of Darkness describes the eschatological war. The sect and the
angels fight against the nations and the evildoers of Israel for
In many details, however, the Dead Sea Scrolls do not
forty years, thereby ushering in the End of Days. This scroll
agree with these accounts of the Essenes. Josephus himself
is notable for its information on the art of warfare in the
calls the Essenes a “philosophy” and makes clear that it was
Greco-Roman period.
composed of various groups. If, indeed, the Dead Sea com-
munity was an Essene sect, perhaps it represented an offshoot
Unique is the Temple Scroll, which is an idealized de-
of the Essenes who themselves differ in many ways from
scription of the Jerusalem Temple, its cult, and other aspects
those described by Philo and Josephus. A further difficulty
of Jewish law. This text is the subject of debate as to whether
stems from the fact that the word essene never appears in the
it is actually a sectarian scroll or simply part of the sect’s
scrolls and that it is of unknown meaning and etymology.
Scholars have noted as well the points of similarity be-
HE SECT AND ITS BELIEFS. The Qumran sect saw itself as
the sole possessor of the correct interpretation of the Bible,
tween the Qumran writings and aspects of the Pharisaic tra-
the exegesis of which was the key to the discovery of God’s
dition. Louis Ginzberg has called the authors of these texts
word in the present premessianic age. Like other apocalyptic
“an unknown Jewish sect.” Indeed, many groups and sects
movements of the day, the sect believed that the messianic
dotted the spiritual and political landscape of Judaea in the
era was about to dawn. Only those who had lived according
Greco-Roman period, and the Dead Sea sect, previously un-
to sectarian ways and had been predestined to share in the
known from any other sources, may have been one of these
End of Days would fight the final battle against the forces
of evil. In order to prepare for the coming age, the sect lived
a life of purity and holiness at its center on the shore of the
Scrolls have illuminated the background of the emergence of
Dead Sea.
rabbinic Judaism and of Christianity. In the years leading up
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

to the great revolt of 66–74, Judaism was moving toward a
cussed thoroughly in Roland de Vaux’s Schweich Lectures of
consensus that would carry it through the Middle Ages. As
1959, Archaeology and the Dead Sea Scrolls (London, 1973).
Talmudic Judaism emerged from the ashes of the destruc-
Important scholarly studies are Frank Moore Cross’s The An-
tion, other groups, like the Dead Sea sect, fell by the wayside.
cient Library of Qumran and Modern Biblical Studies, rev. ed.
Nonetheless, the scrolls allow us an important glimpse into
(Garden City, N.Y., 1961), and Géza Vermès’s The Dead Sea
the nature of Jewish law, theology, and eschatology as under-
Scrolls: Qumran in Perspective (Philadelphia, 1981). The the-
ology of the Qumran sect is studied in Helmer Ringgren’s
stood by one of these sects.
The Faith of Qumran, translated by Emilie T. Sander (Phila-
The scrolls show us that Jews in the Second Temple pe-
delphia, 1963). On the relationship to Christianity, see Mat-
riod were engaged in a vibrant religious life based on study
thew Black’s The Scrolls and Christian Origins (London,
of the scriptures, interpretation of Jewish law, practice of rit-
1961) and William S. LaSor’s The Dead Sea Scrolls and the
ual purity, and messianic aspirations. Some Jewish practices
New Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich., 1972). Two studies
known from later texts, such as phylacteries, thrice-daily
of the importance of the scrolls for the history of Jewish law
prayer, and blessings before and after meals, were regularly
are my books The Halakhah at Qumran (Leiden, 1975) and
Sectarian Law in the Dead Sea Scrolls (Chico, Calif., 1983).
practiced. Rituals were seen as a preparation for the soon-to-
dawn End of Days that would usher in a life of purity and
New Sources
Charlesworth, James H. The Pesharim and Qumran History: Chaos
or Consensus? Grand Rapids, Mich., 2002.
The scrolls, therefore, have shown us that Jewish life and
law were already considerably developed in this period. Al-
Davies, Philip R., George J. Brooke, and Philip R. Callaway. The
though we cannot see a linear development between the Ju-
Complete World of the Dead Sea Scrolls. London, 2002.
daism of the scrolls and that of the later rabbis, since the rab-
Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Associated
bis were heirs to the tradition of the Pharisees, we can still
Literature. 5th International Symposium, 2000. Liturgical
derive great advantage from the scrolls in our understanding
Perspectives: Prayer and Poetry in Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls:
of the early history of Jewish law. Here, for the first time,
Proceedings of the Fifth International Symposium of the Orion
we have a fully developed system of postbiblical law and
Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Associated Lit-
erature, 19–23, January, 2000
. Edited by Esther G. Chazon
with the collaboration of Ruth Clements and Avital Pinnick.
The Dead Sea sect, and, for that matter, all the known
Leiden and Boston, 2003.
Jewish sects from the Second Temple period, were strict ad-
VanderKam, James C. The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Their
herents to Jewish law as they interpreted it. At the same time,
Significance for Understanding the Bible, Judaism, Jesus, and
with their emphasis on the apocalyptic visions of the proph-
Christianity. [San Francisco], 2002.
ets, the sects provide us an understanding of the emerging
Vermès, Géza. An Introduction to the Complete Dead Sea Scrolls.
Christian claims of messiahship for Jesus. Only against the
Minneapolis, MN, 2000.
background of the Dead Sea Scrolls can the worldview of
early Christianity be understood.
Revised Bibliography
The contribution of the biblical scrolls to our under-
standing of the history of the biblical text and versions is pro-
found. We now know of the fluid state of the Hebrew scrip-
tures in the last years of the Second Temple. With the help
DEATH is a fact of life. This statement is at once banal
of the biblical scrolls from Masada and the Bar Kokhba
and profound. It is banal insofar as it is common knowledge
caves, we can now understand the role of local texts, the
that all human life is limited in duration; it is profound,
sources of the different ancient translations of the Bible, and
however, insofar as serious reflection on the end of life chal-
the process of standardization of the scriptures that resulted
lenges the limits of human language, conceptual thought,
in the Masoretic text.
symbols, and imagination. In an important sense, the mean-
In the years spanned by the Dead Sea Scrolls, the text
ing of life is dependent in part on one’s understanding of
of the Hebrew scriptures was coming into its final form, the
death. That death is a fact of life is also paradoxical, for it
background of the New Testament was in evidence, and the
suggests a coincidence of opposites—death-in-life and life-
great traditions that would constitute rabbinic Judaism were
in-death. How people have imagined death-in-life and life-
taking shape. The scrolls have opened a small window on
in-death has shaped their experience of biological death both
these developments the analysis of which will reshape our
individually and collectively. Death is paradoxical, as well,
knowledge of this crucial, formative period in the history of
in that although every death is an individual experience—
Western religion.
only individuals die, even when they die together in large
numbers—death is also a profoundly social experience.
SEE ALSO Essenes.
Death as a biological fact or as a physiological state is
uniform across time and space. However, this universal
An excellent introduction is Yigael Yadin’s The Message of the
sameness in biological terms should not lull one into the
Scrolls (New York, 1957). The archaeological aspect is dis-
error of assuming that the human sense or experience of
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

death has been—or is also—uniform across space and time.
transitional state? These and many other questions have long
When contemplating death today, people must avoid the
spurred speculation concerning death and the possibility of
anachronism of projecting their contemporary understand-
an afterlife.
ing and experience of death back onto others in the past.
Similarly, they must also avoid the cultural imperialism of
Recognizing that death raised questions for people, nu-
assuming that their understanding and experiences are nor-
merous nineteenth- and early twentieth-century scholars
mative and that those of other cultures should be measured
were led to speculate on the relationship of human ponder-
in their terms. This entry on death is concerned with the di-
ings on death to the origins of religion. These theories of the
verse ways in which death has been imagined and the many
origins of religion were often written in the Enlightenment
different ways it has been experienced in different cultures
genre, represented by Rousseau’s essay Discourse on the Ori-
and different ages. To say this is to recognize that although
gin of Social Inequality. Such works of imaginative recon-
death is “a given” in one sense, it is culturally and historically
struction are based on pure speculation, not historical evi-
constructed in various ways.
dence. These reconstructions also are based on the ill-advised
belief that modern psychological assumptions are universally
The study of beliefs and ritual practices surrounding
applicable. Finally, such accounts are based on logical infer-
death has been pursued using a number of different method-
ences (often faulty) that are presumed to have been drawn
ological approaches, including ethnographic, sociological,
by the earliest human beings. The British anthropologist
psychological, historical, morphological, and structural to
E. E. Evans-Pritchard dismissively labeled this sort of “a pri-
name a few. The best comparative studies of death in the his-
ori speculation, sprinkled with illustrations” the “if I were a
tory of religions build upon the large number of available de-
horse” fallacy and unworthy of the name historical recon-
tailed ethnographic descriptions of specific communal beliefs
struction (1965, p. 24). While there is little or no historical
and ritual practices, but move beyond these in a number of
evidence to support these imaginative flights, it is salutary to
ways. Comparative studies in the history of religions are in-
note the broad influence they once had.
terdisciplinary in nature, integrating the findings of different
Today scholars strive to understand how different con-
disciplines in an effort to understand the complex existential
ceptualizations of death, the afterlife, and the body, as well
meanings of religious beliefs and practices. The classic ethno-
as different ritual practices, affect the individual and collec-
graphic monograph tended to present a historically “flat”
tive experience of death. The cultural historical constructions
and socially undifferentiated picture of the conception of
of death, the body, the afterlife, and so on also directly affect
death and the performance of mourning and funerary rites
one’s religious valuations of life in this world. In thanatology
in a given culture. Unfortunately, such “snapshot” studies of
(the study of death), among other things, it is important to
different cultures implied that religious beliefs were static
consider the religious anthropology (i.e., the specific under-
over time and uniformly held by all members of a given cul-
standing of human nature and divine nature and the rela-
ture or religious tradition. More recently, the subfield of his-
tionship between them), the understanding of the body, and
torical anthropology has reintroduced history into the mix
the operative cosmology of a given culture or religious com-
and produced numerous sensitive studies of change in beliefs
munity. Moreover, one must take into account a given cul-
and practices. Scholars have also paid more attention to the
ture’s epistemology of death and the afterlife (i.e., how peo-
effects of cultural contact, colonialism, and issues of gender,
ple claim to know things about death and the afterlife). After
resulting in more complex representations.
all, most people would deny that their concepts about death
In this essay, no attempt will be made to present an ex-
are based on mere speculation. Cultures have established
haustive survey of beliefs and ritual practices related to death.
means of obtaining evidence on matters related to death and
Rather than providing ethnographic detail and careful histor-
the afterlife. This evidence is commonly found in the content
ical analysis, the entry focuses on selected themes and issues
of dreams, reports from shamans concerning their ecstatic
that emerge from a broad survey of cultures and religions,
flights through the multiple realms of the universe, or indi-
and in so doing offers some general reflections concerning
vidual accounts of visionary experiences or events witnessed
the human imagining and experience of death. In passing,
in trance states. Alternatively, the “proof” may be found in
it also touches upon methodological issues involved in the
the authoritative proclamations of myths or sacred texts.
comparative, cross-cultural, and historical study of beliefs
Death may be accepted as a fact of life by many persons
and ritual practices surrounding death.
today, but historians of religions have clearly demonstrated
THE CONCERN WITH DEATH. Death has been a central con-
that humans have rarely imagined death to have been a natu-
cern of religious persons across space and time. The brute
ral and inevitable condition from the beginning of time.
fact of death raises pressing questions: Why do people and
Throughout the world, a myriad number of myths tell how
other living things have to die? What happens to a person
death came into the world and how humans came to be mor-
after death? Do the dead have a continued existence of some
tal beings. Death is often claimed to be the result of an acci-
sort? Are they happy? Where do the dead go? Can the dead
dent of some sort or an unfortunate mistake or choice made
return to the world of the living? Can the dead communicate
by a god or an ancestor. It may be the result of an act of for-
with the living? Is death permanent, or is it a temporary or
getfulness, trickery, or theft, or it may have resulted from the
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breaking of a taboo or perhaps the commission of some
the body surviving death. Thus, the corpse was carefully em-
major or minor transgression. The Genesis account of the fall,
balmed in order to preserve its form, while items the de-
with the consequential changes in the human ontological
ceased would need in the afterlife were also buried with the
condition and in the world itself, is only one such myth. It
is important to recognize that this myth, like other such sto-
Practitioners in alchemical traditions around the world
ries, continues to exercise power over the collective imagina-
have searched for the elixir of immortality. Alchemists pro-
tion and lives of millions of people. In yet other religions,
vided recipes and proffered various techniques to transform
the length of human life is imagined to be different in differ-
the mortal body into an immortal one. Some religions speak
ent cosmic ages, with the length usually decreasing as the de-
of a spiritual body existing after death. In such traditions, the
volutionary process continues.
decomposition or immolation of the physical body is often
OVERCOMING DEATH. If death was not always a fact of life,
seen as a form of release into a spiritual existence. Such a be-
then the possibility suggests itself that death might be over-
lief informs the Ainu bear festival in Northern Japan in
come in some way. The study of death in the history of reli-
which a deity (kamui) visits the world of the living in the
gions is, in part, the history of how different cultures and re-
form of a bear cub. The cub is nursed and raised by the Ainu;
ligious communities have sought to deny the finality of the
it is also entertained before it is ritually killed, thereby releas-
seemingly “given” nature of death. Many religious beliefs
ing the deity from its temporary physical form and sending
and practices aim to overcome death in some way or to re-
it back to the spirit world (Kimura, 1999).
store humans and the world to conditions prior to the intro-
Other traditions, such as yoga in its many forms, have
duction of death. Eschatologies, for example, imagine the
sought to overcome the embodied nature of human existence
end of the world as it now exists, including the end of death.
(i.e., to overcome the body itself, which is identified as the
Similarly, the so-called cargo cults that emerged in the face
locus of mortality) in order to achieve an immaterial and
of radical cultural disruption and rampant disease in situa-
timeless state of pure consciousness. In Indian religious tradi-
tions of cultural contact are expressions of a desperate antici-
tions, biological death is believed to lead to rebirth in another
pation of the destruction of this world and the inauguration
physical form, whereas moksa, release from the karmic cycle
of a renewed world.
of birth-death-rebirth, puts an end to death. Death, then, has
More generally, scholars have long noted that initiatory
been imagined in many different ways, some positing anoth-
rites involve symbols and scenarios of death and rebirth. The
er form of embodied existence and others a disembodied
performance of an initiatory rite rehearses death followed by
state. Only a few religions, such as the ancient religion repre-
a scenario of rebirth of some kind. This death may be imag-
sented in the Enuma Elish, viewed death as a real end, with
ined in biological terms, or it may be the death (end) of a
no form of existence following it.
specific status or ontological condition. In many religions,
religious healers gain their powers precisely by having over-
noted above, the recognition of the central importance of
come death through an initiatory trial of some sort. Such ini-
death in the conceptual worlds of human beings throughout
tiatory trials are often unsought, but they need not be. Many
time has occasionally led Western scholars to make some
examples of what one might call “dying onto the world” are
overblown claims concerning death and the origins of culture
found in the history of religions, including the elaboration
or civilization. Before returning to a brief consideration of
of religious vocations defined over against mundane life in
some of the issues related to death that remain central to the
the world. These include, to name only two of the most com-
study of the history of religions today, it is necessary to re-
mon types, the renunciation of the world by monks and nuns
view in a cursory manner a few of the most famous—and
and individuals going into the mountains, desert, or the bush
wrongheaded—grand theories of the origins of religion that
in order to practice some form of asceticism and to seek vi-
were based in part on the scholars’ imagined human response
sions. In many religions, lay persons or ordinary men and
to death in the misty past.
women can also ritually gain a foretaste of death and the af-
terlife. Altered states of consciousness of various sorts provide
Edward B. Tylor. The famous nineteenth-century arm-
access to knowledge of the afterlife in many religions. For
chair anthropologist Edward B. Tylor no doubt went too far
Pentacostal Christians, for instance, the psychosomatic expe-
in claiming that death was the reason religion existed. In his
rience of the descent of the Holy Ghost—the loss of con-
highly influential two-volume work Primitive Culture
sciousness, speaking in tongues, the radiant sense of divine
(1871), Tylor argued that the concept of the soul or an ani-
infusion—is a form of dying onto life as, while at the same
mating spirit arose when primitive peoples reflected on
time a foretaste of what the Second Coming will bring.
death, trance states, visions, and dreams. He asserted that the
belief in the existence of the soul was the logical deduction
Religious seekers have also proactively pursued various
that primitives drew from putting together two separate ex-
means of achieving immortality, sometimes in human-
periences. First, according to Tylor, the primitives’ awareness
embodied form and other times by seeking to overcome the
of the sudden transformation of a vibrant human body into
human body. The ancient Egyptians exemplify those who
a corpse at the moment of death must have suggested to
imagined the afterlife to be similar to life in this world, with
them that the animating source of life was not to be found
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in the physical body. At the moment of death, the material
level. Indeed, he claimed that a universal psychological con-
body remained, but it was cold, immobile, and lifeless. In
nection existed between sexual activity and death. He found
dreams and visions, however, people often saw and con-
evidence for this assertion not only in the lives of his neurotic
versed with dead persons, who thus seemed to continue to
patients and ethnographic descriptions of primitive rites, but
“exist” in some form even after their bodily demise. Putting
in such things as a colloquial phrase for male ejaculation,
two and two together, this led to the logical deduction that
which translates as “the little death.” Freud was not an an-
an animating spirit or soul must exist that was invisible, im-
thropologist, though he used the work of anthropologists, so-
material, and detachable from the physical body.
ciologists, and ethnographers in his works of cultural inter-
pretation. Nor was he really interested in cultural diversity.
Tylor believed that this type of primitive reasoning was
Rather, his interest, like so many others of his age, was
the basis of the most primitive cultural stage of development,
only in different psychological-cum-cultural stages of devel-
which he labeled “animism.” Animism is the belief that both
animate and inanimate things, natural phenomena, and the
universe itself possess a vital animating power or soul. Like
Few anthropologists or historians of religions today
many nineteenth-century theorists, Tylor assumed that all
would accept Freud’s universal claims or offer competing
cultures passed through evolutionary stages. The precise enu-
universal claims of their own for that matter. For instance,
meration of these stages varied from scholar to scholar, but
rather than make a universal assertion about the significance
in general they follow the pattern of evolution from a belief
of “the little death,” they would note that the male anxiety
in magic to religion and, ultimately, to the triumph of reason
implicit in this phrase flows from the widely-held (but not
and science. At each stage, it was believed that belief in the
universal) archaic belief that the vital fluids and life energy
earlier form of magic or religion would decline. Moreover,
in one’s body are finite in quantity and that they are not re-
contemporary peoples living in technologically primitive cul-
plenished. For those holding this understanding of the male
tures were held to be living fossils, as it were. As such, the
body, any expenditure of seminal fluids is assumed to deplete
study of “primitives” seemed to hold the promise of provid-
the man’s life force. Ironically then, the act that leads to the
ing scholars in various disciplines the opportunity to view
creation of new life ultimately contributes to the male’s own
what the life of their own ancestors must have been like mil-
physical decline and death.
lennia earlier.
Menstruation and lactation, to name two prominent fe-
Ghosts and ancestral spirits. Herbert Spencer, one of
male physiological functions, are also highly-charged sym-
the founders of modern sociology, offered a similar theory
bols in many cultures and religions, but Freud paid consider-
in The Principles of Sociology (1885). However, he main-
ably less attention to them. Had he, he would have found
tained that the origins of religion were to be found in the
that they, too, are often associated with death-in-life and life-
belief in ghosts rather than the soul. Significantly, visions of
in-death. Freud was equally unaware of the significant im-
the dead—as well as encounters with them in dreams—again
pact the differences in the religious anthropologies of diverse
played a central role in Spencer’s theory. Because the dead
people or their different understandings of the human body
were believed to still be present somehow in the world, Spen-
could have on their experience of sexual activity and death,
cer claimed that they came to be propitiated and offered
among other things. Indeed, Freud dismissed native explana-
food, drink, and so on by their living relatives and friends.
tions of such things outright, claiming that conscious expla-
Moreover, the most important and powerful members of so-
nations never got to the real unconscious causal sources of
ciety were believed to retain their position and power even
human psychology and behavior.
after death. Thus, they were treated with special respect and
decorum, as they had been while alive. Over time, these an-
In Totem and Taboo, Freud again associated death with
cestors evolved into deities. Thus, according to Spencer,
the origin of religion, society, and civilization. Building upon
primitive ancestor worship was the basis of all religions. Un-
the now long-discredited hypothesis that the earliest human
fortunately, there is no hard historical evidence for this asser-
beings lived in hordes each ruled by a dominant male and
tion or for the other universal claims he proffered.
the mistaken concept of totemism, Freud produced a gothic
tale (or, perhaps, a modern psychological myth) of primordi-
Sigmund Freud. For his part, Sigmund Freud made a
al patricide. In Freud’s telling, a single dominant male
stunning series of claims about death, sex, and religion in
claimed exclusive sexual rights to all of the women in the
both his psychological writings and in his works of cultural
horde. The sons produced by this supreme male must have
historical interpretation. The latter include Totem and Taboo
looked up to their father and aspired to be like him, even as
(1918), Civilization and Its Discontents (1930), The Future
they hated and envied him. They no doubt became increas-
of an Illusion (1928), and Moses and Monotheism (1939).
ingly frustrated, Freud suggested, as they reached sexual ma-
Freud offered a psychological explanation of the paradoxical
turity, but were still denied a sexual outlet within the horde.
coincidence of opposites of death-in-life and life-in-death.
Then, one day the sons collectively hatched a plan to kill
He argued that eros and thanatos, the drives to reproduce
their father in order to gain sexual access to the women. After
oneself and to annihilate oneself, were both primordial in
the dastardly deed had been done, “cannibal savages as they
human nature and deeply intertwined at the unconscious
were,” the sons instinctually devoured their victim in order
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to incorporate his power. Then, according to Freud, some-
Freud did not consider primitives to be rational beings; rath-
thing momentous happened.
er, he compared them to neurotics and children. Yet, just as
most healthy boys work their way through the psychological
The sons’ love and admiration of the father, which had
conflicts of the Oedipal stage, he believed that cultures, too,
been repressed in order to commit the murder, resurfaced as
evolved psychologically, with reason gradually replacing
pangs of guilt and psychological ambivalence. These quickly
overwhelmed them. On the one hand, they were grieved by
their father’s death and horrified by their role in it, but on
Modern studies of death. Today few people ascribe to
the other they experienced a sense of satisfaction in having
the psychological assumptions underlying these and other
replaced the father. Yet Freud claims that in death the father
theories that connect death to the origin of religion. The
became even stronger than he had been in life through the
search for origins of this sort has been abandoned. Still,
workings of psychological repression and substitution. In the
scholars have been struck by the patterned ways in which
wake of the murder, the sons forbid themselves sexual access
death has been associated with life in many cultures. For in-
to the local women (this is the origin of the incest taboo and
stance, scholars have long noted the striking association of
exogenous marriage rules) and forbid the slaying of the fa-
death with fertility and/or the regeneration of life in religions
ther. The latter taboo was expressed through the deflected
around the world. In Versuch über Grabersymbolik der Alten
form of the totem animal or plant, the surrogate for the fa-
(1859), J. J. Bachofen noted the prominence of symbols of
ther, which was normally taboo but which was eaten in a col-
fertility (e.g., eggs) and women on the tombs of ancient
lective ritual meal. In this way, Freud connected the origins
Greece and Rome, which he interpreted as indicating a belief
of the totemic festival with the primitives’ ambivalent psy-
in life coming out of death. For his part, Sir George Frazer
chological response to the death or murder of the father.
made the image of the dying-and-rising god a central theme
The psychological ambivalence felt towards the dead fa-
of his influential comparative study, The Golden Bough,
ther was, Freud claims, the origin not only of the universal
which went through multiple editions during the early twen-
incest taboo and various taboos surrounding death, but also
tieth century. Other scholars, such as the classicist Jane Har-
of the totemic meal, social organization, moral restrictions,
rison, carried the study of the ancient mystery cults further,
and even religion itself. Significantly, Freud’s narrative and
demonstrating in Themis (1911) how the social order was re-
analysis was concerned not only with instincts, but with the
lated to the natural order through these religious rites.
ways instincts and primitive desires are affected and con-
In 1906, Robert Hertz, a student of Emile Durkheim,
trolled by the psychodynamics of family and social organiza-
published a seminal essay on the collective representation of
tion. For the primitive, the totemic object or animal is a sur-
death in Année Sociologique in which he analyzed double or
rogate for the murdered father, while in a more developed
secondary burial practices in Southeast Asia (Hertz, 1960).
stage of culture the figure of God clearly serves this purpose.
In the cultures he studied, the first burial period was tempo-
Applying the biological theory of Ernst Haeckel that on-
rary and dedicated to mourning. After the flesh of the corpse
togeny recapitulates phylogeny to psychology (i.e., the stages
had rotted away, the dry skeletal remains were disinterred
of biological development of an individual from conception
and then reburied elsewhere. With this secondary burial, the
through maturity replicate in abbreviated form the evolution
deceased was integrated into the society of the dead, while
of the species), Freud argued that the study of the mental life
the mourners were reintegrated into the society of the living.
of children, as well as dreams and neuroses, could shed light
Hertz also pointed to structural and symbolic parallels be-
on the primitive stage of human development. He believed
tween funerary rites and initiation rites and marriages, an in-
that the earliest object of sexual desire for every infant boy
sight that numerous other scholars subsequently followed up
is incestuous and forbidden—his mother. Like the grown-up
and detailed in many other societies. More recently, Maurice
sons in the primal horde, an infant son is jealous of the fa-
Bloch and Jonathon Parry have revived interest in the sym-
ther’s sexual possession of the mother and desires to elimi-
bolic association of death and fertility in a culturally wide-
nate him as a rival. Freud posited that the Oedipal complex,
ranging collection of essays entitled Death and the Regenera-
as he labeled it, was a universal psychological complex, but
tion of Life (1982).
one which healthy children in civilized societies could now
One final scholar deserves special mention. In a series
overcome through submitting to social controls and, there-
of important publications, Philippe Ariès presented an un-
by, learning to control their instincts and deferring the im-
precedented survey of the changing attitudes toward and rep-
mediate gratification of their desires.
resentations of death in Europe over a thousand years from
For Freud, religion was the crucial link between the in-
the eleventh through the twentieth centuries. Ariès used an
dividual and society. Religious myths and rituals were the
interdisciplinary approach in his quest to trace these changes,
collective expressions of the same unconscious desires and
working with literary, liturgical, testamentary, epigraphic,
psychological processes that produce dreams and neuroses in
and iconographic sources of evidence. Specialists may quib-
individuals. Freud famously claimed that religion was a col-
ble over specific details and dispute some of Ariès’ interpreta-
lective neurosis that would eventually be outgrown, although
tions, but his work has demonstrated beyond a doubt that
not in the near future. Unlike Spencer and Tylor, though,
the experience of death is subject to change over time within
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the same culture. On the other hand, scholars have also dis-
Liminality. Death creates a liminal time and space for
closed the remarkable continuity of some funerary practices
the living and for the deceased. For a given period of time,
over several millennia. Margaret Alexiou’s study, The Ritual
those closely related to the deceased often have specific ritual
Lament in Greek Tradition (1974), and more recent anthro-
obligations placed upon them, as well as a number of prohi-
pological field work (e.g., Danforth, 1982), has demonstrat-
bitions (e.g., they cannot comb or wash their hair, wear col-
ed that the performance of funerary laments and the practice
orful clothing, participate in certain activities, eat certain
of secondary or double burial continues down to the present
foods, go to certain places). The deceased is often imagined
in some rural areas, in spite of the dominant presence of
as being in a liminal condition as well, betwixt-and-between
Greek Orthodox Christianity.
the world of the living and the world of the dead. In these
cases, the funerary and mourning rites are designed to assist
To his credit, Ariès did not attempt to offer a grand
the deceased in his or her journey to the otherworld or to
overarching psychological or sociological theory about death.
effect the transformation into an ancestor, spirit being, and
Rather, he sought to organize in a significant way the huge
so on. These rites are often viewed as aiding the dead, but
amount of historical evidence he had surveyed and then to
at other times they are also clearly designed to keep the dead
trace the changes that occurred over broad sweeps of time.
from returning to the world of the living or otherwise caus-
In his magnum opus, Homme devant la mort (1977; English
ing havoc. The liminal status of the newly dead or the dead
translation, The Hour of Our Death, 1981), Ariès suggested
for whom funerary rites were not performed is often imag-
that the history of the Western representations and experi-
ined to be potentially dangerous. Such liminal beings haunt
ences of death could be organized around variations on four
the world of the living and may cause illness, death, or other
psychological themes: the growing awareness of the individu-
calamities; they may also possess individuals or cause them
al; the defense of society against untamed nature; belief in
to go mad. Thus, many posthumous rituals are prophylactic
an afterlife; and belief in the existence of evil.
in nature and designed to protect the living from the dead.
The liminal status of the corpse almost always requires
been taken as an end as such, a real terminal point. Rather,
that it be prepared or handled in specific ritualized ways. In
for most humans throughout time, physiological death has
some societies, the deceased is buried or cremated with ob-
signaled a transitional moment and state, not an absolute
jects he or she will need in the other world; in other societies,
end. At death, life as previously lived in this world ends for
the dead may be buried in a fetal position, perhaps indicating
the deceased, but the memory and imagination of the living
a belief in rebirth. The care taken with the remains of the
open up paths to the past and the future and to other worlds
dead throughout human history has provided archaeologists
and other modes of existence. A survey of the history of reli-
with some of their most important evidence about the reli-
gions clearly shows a widespread affirmation that death
gious beliefs and practices of diverse peoples.
creates the potential for new beginnings, for a new stage of
In many societies, death does not terminate all relation-
the cycle of birth-death-rebirth, or for transitioning to differ-
ships between the deceased and living relatives. Throughout
ent ends. The transformative possibilities signaled by death
East Asia, for instance, ancestral cults involve regular ritual
are numerous and extremely variable. However these possi-
interactions often for up to thirty or more years, including
bilities are imagined, though, humans have rarely been con-
prayers, offerings of food, drink, and incense, memorial ser-
tent to “let nature take its course,” as it were. Upon closer
vices, and even dances to entertain the dead during the festi-
inspection, even those religious groups that apparently let na-
val of the dead. In Japan, the corpse is cremated and the ashes
ture take its course following a death (e.g., when the Parsi
buried in a cemetery. The deceased is given a posthumous
Zoroastrians of India exposed the corpse on top of a tower
name, which is inscribed by a Buddhist priest on a wooden
to be consumed by carrion birds, or the Lakota Sioux ex-
tablet that is installed in a domestic Buddhist or Shinto an-
posed the corpse on a bier to the elements), will be found
cestral shrine. After the requisite period of memorial rites has
to have performed ritualized acts intended to symbolically
passed, the ancestral tablet is itself burned in a symbolic sec-
integrate the deceased into a cosmological world of meaning.
ond cremation. Thereafter, the individual identity of the de-
ceased ends and he or she is incorporated into the anony-
Death almost inevitably moves the living to perform rit-
mous class of ancestors.
ual work of some sort in an effort to control what happens
posthumously both in the world of the living and in that of
Communicating with the dead. Many religions also
the dead. The transformations made possible by death are
have ritual techniques for communicating with the dead. In
not automatic, nor are they necessarily without danger. By
traditional societies, a shaman or medium often serves as a
and large, people have assumed that the desired transitions
conduit of communication with the dead. The deceased may
and transformations after death can be accomplished safely
possess a ritual functionary in order to communicate his or
only through proper ritual acts. The performance of such rit-
her needs or desires, or the ritual specialist may travel
uals may require specific changes in dress, bodily decoration,
through ecstatic flight to the land of the dead to speak with
voice (e.g., in ritual mourning), diet, daily activities, and so
the dead. In other religions, dreams or visions induced by
on among the living.
hallucinogens may provide a means of interacting with the
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ordinary dead. Many societies have regular festivals to which
Such rites are based on the widespread belief that one’s state
the dead are invited, such as Obon in Japan or the Days of
of mind and mental focus at the time of death are critical
the Dead in Mexico.
in determining one’s posthumous condition. Those who die
in an emotionally agitated state, whether it be of fear, anger,
In many mourning rites, mourners converse with the
jealousy, or lust, will not find peace in the afterlife and, thus,
deceased by speaking, singing, or otherwise performing both
become potentially dangerous. Many different ritual prac-
voices in the dialogue. The desire to maintain some contact
tices seek to overcome the arbitrary nature of death precisely
with deceased loved ones is widespread, although such con-
by controlling the timing and/or manner of death, but also
tact is carefully controlled and of limited duration. In some
one’s mental response to it. By overcoming the survival in-
societies one finds that—more than death itself—it is the
stinct, one overcomes the fear of death and even death itself.
fear of being forgotten after death that is paramount. One
The so-called self-mummified buddhas of Japan are the des-
thinks of the ancient Greeks and the cult of heroes in which
iccated remains of Shugendo¯ priests, now enshrined as ob-
posthumous fame was more valued than life itself.
jects of worship, who took a vow to have themselves buried
Many religions encourage visits to the gravesites of the
alive in the mountains. Thousands of people gathered to wit-
deceased, where tears are shed, prayers are said, offerings of
ness the event, while the priest, breathing through a hollow
flowers, food, and incense are made, and communion with
bamboo tube, continually beat a drum and recited the nem-
the deceased occurs. In many societies, songs associated with
butsu, or the ritual invocation of the Bodhisattva Amida
the dead are sung to recall the deceased, including an enu-
(Amita¯bha), until death, or release, came (Hori, 1962).
meration of the places he or she used to visit or the lands the
deceased may have hunted or tilled. The deceased is often
Many religions feature rituals of pacification of the
ritually mourned or keened at the gravesite, although in so-
dead, designed to assist the deceased to accept his or her new
cieties that practice double or secondary burial, these songs
status and surroundings. A certain ambivalence is evident in
or mourning rites are sometimes offered at the now-empty
many of these rites. On the one hand, surviving loved ones
initial burial site. In some societies, physical objects, songs,
wish for a continued relationship with the deceased; on the
or specific places associated with the dead function as souve-
other hand, there is some fear or anxiety expressed over the
nirs or memento mori, recalling the deceased to mind. In an-
possible return of the dead. The living seek to tightly control
cient Japan, people employed objects (e.g., a comb, an item
their interactions with the dead through ritual means. Al-
of clothing) called katami (to see the form/shape [of the de-
though the dead are invoked to be present, the rites also usu-
ceased]) to conjure up an image of the dead (Ebersole, 1989).
ally include formal send-offs to return the deceased to the
In the Victorian period, people often carried lockets contain-
land of the dead.
ing a snippet of hair from a deceased or absent loved one.
Some scholars have long argued that mourning, funer-
Victorian women also made elaborate hair weavings or flow-
ary, and memorial rites are really for the living and answer
ers, birds, and other decorative forms—by using the hair of
to their psychological or social needs. Durkheim, for exam-
dead family members—for similar purposes. With the emer-
ple, claimed they responded to the need for renewed social
gence of photography, photos of the deceased, including
solidarity; more recently, psychologists and others insist on
those of dead infants and children carefully posed to appear
the need for individuals to work through the grieving pro-
to be sleeping, became extremely popular. Today many per-
cess. (The findings of the history of religions, though, might
sons find these objects macabre and disturbing, witnessing
well lead one to question whether there is a single universal
to a major shift in cultural sensibility surrounding death.
grieving process.) Obviously, religious rituals serve multiple
Many religions provide rituals to be performed for the
purposes, and need not be mutually exclusive. A brief consid-
benefit of the dead, as noted earlier. The practice of endow-
eration of the different scholarly interpretations of Japanese
ing Christian masses to be performed or the reading of Bud-
Buddhist rites of pacification for aborted fetuses (mizuko
dhist sutras for a deceased individual are examples. Some-
kuyo¯) will demonstrate this. These rites were newly created
times individuals made arrangements for such rites to be
in late twentieth-century Japan, where abortion was a com-
performed on their behalf after their death, a clear indication
mon form of birth control. Some have argued that mizuko
of the belief in the continued existence of the self and person-
kuyo¯ rites answer the psychological needs of the parent(s),
al identity. In other cases, it is the surviving family members
who experience pangs of guilt after the decision to abort (cf.
who are expected to perform memorial or ancestral rites or
La Fleur, 1992). Others, such as Helen Hardacre (1997),
to have them performed by religious functionaries. The
have argued that entrepreneurial Buddhist priests created the
Hindu pinda rite of offerings of food and drink to one’s
need for such rites through skillful marketing techniques.
deceased parents is a prime example of a daily domestic
Significantly, advertisements represented aborted fetuses as
haunting spirits in need of pacification rites.
Preparation for facing death, pacification, and the
The corpse. Whenever death occurs, a corpse is creat-
grieving process. Many religions also developed rites de-
ed—an object at once like a living body and radically differ-
signed to help those facing imminent death to accept this
ent from it. Yet, one finds numerous reports of anomalous
fate. The Catholic rite of last unction is but one example.
cases that deny this truism a universal status—the Taoist im-
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

mortal who leaves the physical world, leaving behind only
anticipated death and rebirth differently than did their
sandals, mysteriously empty tombs or graves, and so on. No
slaves, especially insofar as the afterworld was believed to rep-
matter what the details are, such reports imply that the
licate the social, political, and economic structures found in
“death” involved was not an ordinary biological death. In
this world. Similarly, the ruling Mayan and Aztec elites must
some cases, death is denied by claims that an individual has
have understood and experienced the ritual sacrifice of the
gone away or into hiding (e.g., the Sh¯ıEah Hidden Imam in
many human captives offered as tribute differently than did
Iran), perhaps to return triumphantly at a later time. In an-
many of the conquered people, who were regularly forced to
cient Japan, the emperor or empress did not die; rather, as
provide the persons for these bloody sacrifices. Unfortunate-
a “living deity,” he or she had returned to the High Heavens
ly, most of the records and representations of these sacrificial
and there become secluded behind the bank of clouds. In
deaths come from the elite sectors of the societies. Such evi-
many cases, death restores a person to true form, as in the
dence must be used carefully, always bearing in mind that
case of a deity who had temporarily taken on material or
the voices of the powerless and the disenfranchised were rare-
human form. In yet other cases, at death the individual is re-
ly recorded.
portedly changed instantly into another now permanent or
eternal form—a star in the heavens, a rock formation, a
Sacrificial rites. Modern scholars have with little diffi-
spring—leaving no corpse
culty reconstructed the symbolic logic informing the ritual
taking of human life in Mesoamerican empires. There once
When a corpse is present, however, it is usually consid-
again myths and rituals proffer the paradoxical claim that life
ered to be polluted, leading to numerous avoidance proce-
comes out of death. In order to renew the cosmos and to
dures. In many societies, only designated individuals may
guarantee fertility and regeneration, blood must be shed at
touch and prepare the corpse. In India, these ritual function-
a specific time, at a specific place, and in a specific choreo-
aries are outcastes; in other societies, they may be close rela-
graphed manner. This might be in the form of ritual bleed-
tives, who take on a polluted state for the duration of the fu-
ings from the penis of the Mayan king or through human
nerary and mourning rites. In modern technologically
sacrifice at the Aztec New Year and other appropriate mo-
developed societies, these roles have been assumed by medi-
ments of transformative potential (cf., Carrasco, 1999).
cal professionals and professional morticians.
Such rituals clearly represented the religio-political ide-
In a striking number of cultures, though, it is predomi-
ology of the power elites. It should not be uncritically as-
nately women who perform these ritual duties. Bloch and
sumed, however, that such ritual performances accurately re-
Parry have provocatively argued that the prominence of
presented the shared cultural understanding of all people in
women in funerary rites is not, as Frazer and many others
the empire. At the same time, neither should it be uncritical-
believed, so much a part of the symbolic regeneration of life
ly assumed that the rites were nothing more than a vehicle
as it is a symbolic elaboration of female sexuality and fertility
for ideological obfuscation on the part of the ruling elites.
precisely in order to oppose it to “real” vitality. That is, fe-
To be sure, in significant ways, human sacrifice was a forced
male sexuality and biological reproduction are equated with
performance, but cases exist in which persons voluntarily
death-in-life, which must be overcome. Among other reli-
went to their own deaths, and as such require an understand-
gions Bloch and Parry cite, they suggest that Christianity
ing the power such symbolic activities—designed to effect
epitomizes this pattern. They contrast the role the woman
the magic of transforming death into life or even immortali-
Eve played in the Fall in the Garden of Eden—which led to
ty—can have over individuals and groups. At a minimum,
human sexuality, biological procreation, and death—to that
the question here is one of what constitutes a meaningful vol-
of the Virgin Mary. The asexual conception of Jesus and his
untary death for specific groups.
subsequent death and resurrection restore the possibility of
access to the life eternal of Paradise. The meaning and valua-
The history and complex multiple and competing
tion of physiological death, fertility, and regeneration can be
meanings of the Hindu ritual practice of satithe self-
totally transformed by shifts in symbolic and ritual represen-
immolation of a widow on her husband’s funerary pyre—
tations, which recontexualize these (Bloch and Parry, 1982).
may serve as an exemplar of voluntary ritual death. Sati has
long captured people’s imagination, but only recently have
Whatever the merit of Bloch and Parry’s overall thesis,
scholars begun to explore its history and the complex, ongo-
it is clear that the meanings of concepts such as death, fertili-
ing, and contested representations of its meaning. For in-
ty, sexuality, and rebirth are not singular, nor are they cultur-
stance, Catherine Weinberger-Thomas (Chicago, 1999) sen-
ally determined for all time or for all persons within a cul-
sitively explored how British merchants and later colonial
ture. The meanings for such fundamental categories can be
authorities used the ritual as a rationale for taking control of
renegotiated over time within the same religious tradition,
India; how Western scholars have depicted it and why; how
as Ariès and others have shown. At an individual or subgroup
fundamentalist Hindu religious and political groups have
level, they may also be affected by one’s class, gender, or oc-
embraced it; the complex issues of gender; and the at times
cupation among other things. A few admittedly extreme ex-
intense social and familial pressures a widow faces. She also
amples allow a more general point about these factors to be
seeks to understand why some young women chose to follow
made. Take, for instance, Egyptian pharaohs. They no doubt
their husbands in death. She discloses the power of the belief
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that the widow’s self-immolation makes two human bodies
of death before the mind’s eye of the living has often served
into one indivisible body, which is ritually transformed into
didactic purposes, moving persons to act in spiritually and
a sacrificial oblation and rice ball—a pinda. The funeral pyre
morally proper and ascribed ways. The Buddhist ritual con-
becomes the mirror image of the marriage bed in which male
templation of putrefying corpses, the ritual visualization of
and female powers were first conjoined, although now this
the inevitable future of all human bodies, visiting collective
union of opposites is forever. This ritual suicide is also the
ossuaries, and so on have been used to move people to re-
inverse of the primordial self sacrifice of Purusha, as detailed
nounce the material body and the world. Graphic pictures
in R:gveda X: 40. In the latter, the primordial divine sacrifice
of hells and the land of the dead in many religions have simi-
leads to the creation of the material world, the caste system,
larly served to keep death in the minds of people, just as im-
and so on; with the ritual sacrifice of sati, all of these are over-
ages of heaven and the afterlife have proffered hope to many.
come and the couple escapes the cycle of birth-death-rebirth.
The ubiquitous presence of death, however, can also
Continued presence of death in life. It is a common-
make it banal and rob it of any sense of sacrality or meaning.
place to say that religions create worlds of meaning. But they
People can become inured to death by the numbing effect
also create meaningful deaths. Death is never far from
of the sheer numbers of the dead in times of plague, war, and,
human experience, no matter how people may try to banish
to use a modern term, natural disaster. Death’s seemingly re-
it from sight and mind. It permeates daily life just as it struc-
lentless redundancy can lead persons to perform horribly im-
tures the rhythms of collective life. Graveyards, ossuaries,
moral acts as death’s banality threatens the foundations of
tombs, memorials, and museums bring the presence of death
society. Akira Kurosawa’s film Rashomon, set in Kyoto in an
and the dead into human consciousness and landscape.
age of terrible civil war and a time of rampaging plague, is
Monumental architectural buildings and structures seek to
an unforgettable portrait of death’s power to destroy law and
guarantee and to control the memory of the dead by future
order and to create utter chaos. Sheer desperation, coupled
generations. The mall of Washington, D.C., for instance, is
with the drive to survive, can lead humans to depravity as
a public space filled with memorials to the dead designed to
the moral order of the universe collapses. In the European
evoke a sacred sense of the past and a collective American
Holocaust, the carrying out of the Nazi policy of extermina-
identity. Today in secular scientific cultures, human genes
tion of the Jews, gypsies, and others was possible in part be-
and DNA have become yet another way of re-imagining the
cause in the camps killing became so banal.
continued presence of the dead in the living.
There is also the “death without weeping”—the resigna-
Religious calendars are punctuated with festivals and
tion at times of the poorest of the poor to the necessity of
observances related to the dead, but so are secular calendars.
death for some if others are to live. The myriad images of
The citizens of modern nation-states celebrate memorial days
a happier life in the future that many religions have proffered
of various sorts for their war dead, the victims of genocide,
must not blind one to the desperate, horrible, and yet ratio-
presidents, and kings, but they also celebrate birthdays and
nal decision that innumerable mothers have made through-
beginnings. Even when the dead are feared or are considered
out history to stop feeding one child so that others might live
polluting and, thus, are segregated and separated spatially
(cf., Scheper-Hughes, 1992). Similarly, in much of the world
from the living, they hover nearby. Ritual avoidances of spe-
today and in all countries before the advances of modern
cific places, foods, words, names, and so on also bring the
medicine, giving birth was an extremely dangerous act. All
dead—even in their physical absence—into the conscious-
too often, bringing life into the world meant the death of the
ness of the living. The dead live in memory, in dreams, and
in physical tokens. In other cases, the dead are physically near
to hand—buried under the cathedral floor, enshrined in part
Yet, in the history of religions, few societies have collec-
or in whole as holy relics in temples and sanctuaries, or in-
tively embraced an existential fatalism, which assumes that
terred under the entranceway to a house. The dead may even
death is meaningless. Rather, plagues, wars, and natural di-
be literally incorporated into the living through some form
sasters have often been taken to be cosmological signs of
of endocannibalism (e.g., Amazonian natives drinking the
some sort. They have generated eschatological visions on a
cremation ashes of a villager). Scholars have noted the strik-
cosmic scale of the end of the world as we know it and the
ing similarity to the symbolism (or the reality of the miracle
beginning of a new world. Or they have stimulated calendri-
of transubstantiation) of the Christian Eucharist—“This is
cal speculation on a cosmic scale, with the positing of ages
my body; this is my blood.”
through which the universe must pass. Examples are legion,
ranging from ancient Indian speculation on devolutionary
Death is everpresent, as well, in the privileged myths
cosmic ages (yugas) and Buddhist writings on the present
and stories told again and again in song and poetry, in the
time as the Age of Declining Dharma to the elaborate inter-
arts (painting, sculpture, weaving, mosaics, pottery, etc.), in
meshing calendars of the Aztecs and the Mayans, which inex-
dance and dramatic performances, in children’s play (“Ring
orably move through their cycles of change and ends and be-
around a rosey/ pocketful of posies/ ashes, ashes, all fall
ginnings. In almost all cases, as has been seen in the case with
down.”), and today on television, in the movies, and in video
the death of an individual, the end is imagined as a begin-
games. Bringing the ubiquity and the absolute redundancy
ning. The end of a cosmic age is a moment of transition and
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

transformation, one marked by death, destruction, and dan-
Aries’ work reminds one that the manner in which death and
ger. Yet the religious imagination of humans turns this dark
the afterlife (or, the different possible consequences of death)
time—this descent into chaos—into a prelude to a renewed
are imagined and represented informs the lived experience
time and a return to order. Often this denouement is re-
of death both by the dying person and the survivors. Aries
hearsed in ritual performance and mythic narration.
describes “the tame death” in medieval Europe when a dying
individual accepted his or her coming death and met it at
The need to explain death. Death is both uniform and
home. Surrounded by loved ones, the dying person said her
arbitrary. It is uniform in so far as all persons, regardless of
or his last goodbyes and prepared to face death calmly, for
social status, position, and wealth are subject to dying. Death
one’s state of mind at the time of death helped to determine
is arbitrary, though, in terms of when it strikes, how it
one’s fate.
strikes, and often who it strikes. In this sense, death is enig-
matic, mysterious, and unnerving. Although death is inevita-
Many religions have taught ways of preparing for death
ble, specific deaths need to be explained. In many societies,
and facing this inevitability calmly. Holy men of the Agora
the corpse or skeletal remains were examined for evidentiary
sect in India meditate on death in the cremation grounds,
purposes, or other ritual means, such as divination, were em-
spread the ashes of the dead over their own bodies, use
ployed to determine who or what had caused a death. Today
human skulls as begging bowls, and pursue other practices
in scientifically developed countries, a special medical practi-
in order to live with death continually (cf. Parry, 1994).
tioner will perform an autopsy for these purposes.
Some Japanese samurai also practiced daily meditation in
In the past and in many traditional cultures today, ritual
which they envisioned their deaths in battle. By practicing
autopsies of a different sort were and are performed. In rural
dying in this way, they sought to prepare themselves to face
Greece, for instance, as in centuries past, old women and fe-
death unflinchingly (Reynolds and Waugh, 1977). In a myr-
male relatives will fondle and closely examine exhumed skel-
iad number of different ways, humans have sought to control
etal bones for signs of the moral condition of the deceased
death, even if it could not be conquered. The query “Death
and, thus, his or her posthumous fate (cf. Danforth, 1982).
where is thy sting?” is an expression of the achievement of
In other societies, the condition of a corpse after death is
this control over death (1 Corinthians 15:55).
taken to be a sign of his or her spiritual status. In Buddhist
One way to gain control over death is to control the
and Christian lore, for example, the corpses of saints do not
timing of one’s death or to overcome the arbitrary timing of
decay, nor do they emit disgusting odors. Rather, they release
death by foretelling it. The ability to predict one’s own death
aromatic smells. Such extraordinary corpses are, of course,
or to will it to happen at a certain time and place are widely
the source of relics in the cults of religions around the world.
recognized as a sign or a power of a holy person. The Japa-
Such body relics are the repository of healing and saving
nese Buddhist poet-monk Saigyo¯ (1118–1190) wrote a well-
powers; they are also yet another expression of the belief in
known poem (no. 77) included in his collection, Sankashu¯
(Nihon koten bungaku taikei, Vol. 29, p. 32), that reads:
If the timing of death often seems arbitrary, societies
and religious communities seek to regularize it temporally by
negawaku wa Let me die, I pray, hana no shita nite
punctuating religious and political calendars with days me-
under the cherry blossoms haru shinan of spring. sono
morializing the dead. Whether it be the Sh¯ıEah Muslims’ an-
kisaragi no around the full moon mochizuki no koro of
the month of Kisaragi.
nual memorialization and re-enactment of the martyrdom of
al Husain, Christians’ annual ritual remembrances of the
Kisaragi is the classical Japanese name for the second lunar
crucifixion of Jesus and his resurrection, the celebration
month. Gotama the Buddha passed away on the fifteenth of
throughout East Asia of the festival of the dead, a ritual time
this month, so Saigyo¯’s wish was to emulate the Buddha even
when the spirits of the dead are invited to return to the world
in death. When Saigyo¯ died on the sixteenth of Kisaragi,
of the living and are entertained there, or modern national
many people took this as an auspicious sign. Saigyo¯’s posthu-
memorial days for the war dead, calendars are filled with days
mous fame rested in part on this “proof” of his extraordinary
dedicated to the collective recollection of the dead. Through
spiritual nature. Similar miraculous powers of forecasting
such collective reflections on death, communal values are re-
one’s own death are found in religions around the world.
affirmed. In an important sense, life cannot have meaning
CONCLUSION. These general comments on death in the his-
until death does.
tory of religions have done little more than present a brief
While death is universal, it is imagined, encountered,
introduction to the subject. In many ways, conceptions of
and responded to in a myriad number of different ways
death are subject to change over time, just as they vary dra-
across space and time. Death in the history of religions is the
matically in different religions. The imagining of death is not
history of the ever-changing imagination and revaluation of
an empty exercise; it shapes the individual and communal
death, as well as of the stylized responses to it. Philippe Aries’
experience of death and life. That death is a fact of life re-
magisterial thousand-year history of death in Europe is one
mains one of the most intractable mysteries that human be-
notable attempt to interpret and understand the existential
ings must confront. Human beings past and present have al-
meaning of the shifting representations of death over time.
ways sought to find meaning in death and, thereby, in life.
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

The history of this search for meaning in the history of reli-
Metcalf, Peter, and Richard Huntington. Celebrations of Death:
gions is both poignant and ennobling.
The Anthropology of Mortuary Ritual. Cambridge, U.K.,
1979; 2d ed., 1991.
SEE ALSO Afterlife; Ages of the World; Alchemy; Ancestors;
Nihon koten bungaku taikei, vol. 29. Tokyo, 1958.
Ashes; Banaras; Birth; Bones; Bushido; Cannibalism; Cargo
Parry, Jonathon. Death in Benares. New York, 1994.
Cults; Day of the Dead; Descent into the Underworld;
Dying and Rising Gods; Easter; Eschatology, overview arti-
Reynolds, Frank E., and Earle H. Waugh, eds. Religious Encoun-
cle; Fall, The; Funeral Rites, overview article; Ghost Dance;
ters with Death: Insights from the History and Anthropology of
Heaven and Hell; Human Sacrifice; Initiation; Life; Other-
Religions. University Park, Pa., 1977.
world; Pure and Impure Lands; Relics; Rites of Passage;
Scheper-Hughes, Nancy. Death Without Weeping: The Violence of
Sacrifice; Sati; Suicide; Tombs; Underworld.
Everyday Life in Brazil. Berkeley, Calif., 1992.
Spencer, Herbert. Principles of Sociology. London, 1885.
Stannard, David E. The Puritan Way of Death: A Study of Religion,
Alexiou, Margaret. The Ritual Lament in Greek Tradition. Lon-
Culture, and Social Change. Oxford, 1977.
don, 1974.
Tylor, Edward B. Primitive Culture. London, 1871.
Ariès, Philippe. The Hour of Our Death. New York, 1981.
Weinberger-Thomas, Catherine. Ashes of Immortality: Widow
Bachofen, Johann Jakob. Versuch uber Grabersymbolik der Alten,
Burning in India. Chicago, 1999.
Basel, Germany, 1859.
Bloch, Maurice, and Jonathon Parry, eds. Death and the Regenera-
tion of Life. Cambridge, U.K., 1982.
Carrasco, Davíd. City of Sacrifice: The Aztec Empire and the Role
of Violence in Civilization. Boston, 1999.
Danforth, Loring M. The Death Rituals of Rural Greece. Princeton,
Durkheim Emile. The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life. Lon-
don, 1915.
Desjarlais, Robert. Sensory Biographies: Lives and Deaths Among
Nepal’s Yolmo Buddhists. Berkeley, Calif., 2003.
Ebersole, Gary L. Ritual Poetry and the Politics of Death in Early
DECONSTRUCTION. The word deconstruction was
Japan. Princeton, 1989.
coined by French philosopher Jacques Derrida (1930–2004),
Evans-Pritchard, E. E. Theories of Primitive Religion. Oxford,
with whom the movement of that same name is identified.
Derrida rejects the classical anthropological model of lan-
Frazer, James. The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion.
guage, according to which the speaking subject gives verbal
London, 1912.
expression to inner thoughts that are subsequently written
Freud, Sigmund. Totem and Taboo: Resemblances Between the Psy-
down. In such a model, writing is a sign of speaking; speak-
chic Lives of Savages and Neurotics. New York, 1918.
ing is a sign of thinking; and thinking is a sign of being. In-
Freud, Sigmund. The Future of an Illusion. New York, 1928.
stead, Derrida follows the structuralist thesis of Swiss linguist
Freud, Sigmund. Civilization and Its Discontents. London, 1930.
Ferdinand de Saussure (1857–1913), which posits that lan-
guage is to be understood scientifically as a purely formal sys-
Freud, Sigmund. Moses and Monotheism. New York, 1939.
tem of signs (langue) internally related to one another (like
Hardacre, Helen. Marketing the Menacing Fetus in Japan. Berke-
a dictionary in which one word is defined by other words)
ley, Calif., 1997.
and underlying the utterances of speaking subjects (parole),
Harrison, Jane. Themis: A Study of the Social Origins of Greek Reli-
thus eliminating both the subjective-psychological and ob-
gion. Cambridge, U.K., 1911.
jective-metaphysical factors. In Saussure’s model, signifiers
Hertz, Robert. “A Contribution to the Study of the Collective
are arbitrary (the word king has no natural likeness to a real
Representation of Death.” In Death and the Right Hand,
king) and differential (they differ by the “space” between,
trans. Rodney C. Needham. London, 1960.
say, king and ring). The signified is the effect produced by
Hori, Ichiro. “Self-Mummified Buddhas in Japan: An Aspect of
the rule-governed use of signifiers. Derrida’s thought is post-
the Shugen-do¯ (‘Mountain Asceticism’) Sect.” History of Re-
structuralist; it criticizes Saussure for privileging speech over
ligions 1, 2 (1962): 222–242.
writing, in violation of the arbitrariness of the linguistic sign,
Kimura, Takeshi. “Bearing the ‘Bare Facts’ of Ritual: A Critique
and for treating linguistic strings as closed systems of fixed
of Jonathan Z. Smith’s Study of the Bear Ceremony Based
structures. Metaphors and wordplay illustrate the uncontain-
on a Study of the Ainu Iyomante.” Numen 46, no. 1 (1999):
able capacity of linguistic chains to network out indefinitely
in new directions, pushing endlessly against the limits im-
LaFleur, William R. Liquid Life: Abortion and Buddhism in Japan.
posed by the rules. Derrida encapsulated his adaptation of
Princeton, 1992.
Saussure in the neologism différance, French philosophy’s
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

most famous misspelling. The idea is to keep networks open-
iety since the future is also an absolute risk. The motif of the
ended, to resist their tendencies to closure, in order to allow
“come” clearly has messianic overtones that Derrida ac-
new and unforeseen effects.
knowledged in later, more autobiographical, essays like “Cir-
cumfession,” where he reflects on his birth as a Jew and on
Deconstruction is not a settled body of substantive the-
his early life in a Jewish family in French Algeria. The motifs
ses or positions but a style of thinking that applies in any field
of love and desire have overtones of Augustine’s cor inquie-
of inquiry, theoretical or practical, by virtue of which any
tum, of what Derrida calls the “prayers and tears of Augus-
present set of beliefs or practices is held to be indefinitely re-
tine,” which also surface in these same essays about his life
visable (deconstructible) in the light of something unrevis-
in the Franco-Christian colony that is the historic land of
able (undeconstructible). Inasmuch as the undeconstructible
is never actually present or realized, the undeconstructible is
also said to be “the impossible.” According to Derrida, the
The word deconstruction, which has the predominantly
least bad definition of deconstruction is the “experience of
negative sense of disassembling something, is clearly not the
the impossible.” “Least bad” because, in deconstruction,
best word for this deeply affirmative mode of thinking.
which is resolutely anti-essentialist (nominalistic), words
Coined by Derrida as a translation of Heidegger’s Destruk-
have only a relatively stable unity of meaning, shifting histo-
tion, and used by him to characterize his own work, it owes
ries of use, and no fixed or defined borders. Derrida uses the
its currency just as much to commentators who seized upon
word experience in the sense not of empirical data gathering
it. Heidegger himself was likely referring to Martin Luther’s
but of running up against something unexpected, even trau-
use of destructio, which itself goes back to 1 Corinthians 1:19.
matic. “The impossible” does not mean a simple logical con-
Just as for Luther, destroying the wisdom of the wise meant
tradiction, such as (p & ~p), but something that shatters the
nothing destructive, but rather the recovery of the original
horizon of expectation, that is not accountable (or possible)
sense of scripture by breaking through the crust of Scholastic
under prevailing presuppositions.
theology. And just as Heidegger did not mean anything neg-
The same sense is conveyed when Derrida describes de-
ative but rather the recovery of the unthought sense of
construction as the “invention of the other.” Invention has
“being” that was hidden in the history of metaphysics, so De-
the more literal sense of “coming upon” and even of “in-
rrida does not mean anything negative, but rather the releas-
coming” (Latin, in-veniens), running up against something
ing of the possibility of the impossible, or the coming of the
that comes in upon or comes over us, overwhelming our
event, that threatens to be closed off by conventional inter-
powers of anticipation. By the “other,” Derrida means not
pretation and practices. While the word has entered the gen-
the relatively other—that is, new evidence confirming an ex-
eral vocabulary (e.g., “deconstructing Woody Allen”) with
isting horizon—but the “wholly other” (tout autre), a phrase
the negative sense of knocking down and exposing faults, to
he borrows from the Jewish ethicist Emmanuel Levinas,
deconstruct something in Derrida’s sense is not to ruin it but
meaning something unforeseeable, unrepresentable, for
to give it a history, to open it up to a future. Something that
which we have no concept. A deconstructive analysis thus
is insulated from deconstruction is not protected but petri-
prepares the way for or explores “the possibility of the impos-
fied, having hardened over into a dogma, like a law that
sible.” Jean-François Lyotard makes a comparable distinc-
could never be reformed or repealed. The word enjoyed, or
tion between making a new move in an old game (the possi-
suffered from, a succès de scandale, particularly in American
ble or relatively other) and inventing a new game altogether
literary theory circles in the 1970s, where it seemed to invite
(the impossible or wholly other). That, in turn, invites com-
a kind of interpretive anarchy that licensed any interpreta-
parison with Thomas Kuhn’s distinction between normal sci-
tion, however bizarre. When Derrida protested against such
ence, which makes new discoveries within an existing para-
interpretations, critics thought him involved in the self-
digm, and revolutionary science, when an anomaly forces a
contradiction of insisting that his own texts should be inter-
fundamental reconfiguration of the current schema, result-
preted carefully, thus refuting his own theory that anything
ing in a “paradigm shift.”
Derrida has recourse to a family of venir (“to come”)
In fact, careful reading is what deconstruction is all
words picked up in English in both Latinate (invention) and
about. A philosophical theory with wider implications, de-
Anglo-Saxon forms (coming). Deconstruction is turned to
construction first gained ascendancy in the 1960s and 1970s
the “in-coming,” the invention, or the advent, of the “event,”
as a literary theory. A deconstructive reading settles deeply
which is a unique and “singular” happening, not an instance
into the grain of a text, sensitizing itself to its tropes and met-
or example of a universal (Derrida’s idea of “singularity” is
aphors, its choice of words, the chains in which those words
derived from So⁄ren Kierkegaard, Martin Heidegger, and
are caught up, and the complex and even anonymous opera-
Levinas). The event defies convention, where everything is
tions of the linguistic system in which the author is working,
regularized and routinized. Deconstructive thinking is guid-
in order to show that the text contains an unmasterable com-
ed by the invocation “come” (viens), which Derrida has not
plexity—dissemination—that cannot be contained by the au-
hesitated to call a certain “prayer,” by which he means a deep
thor’s own intentions or conscious logic. Thus, Derrida’s
desire or love of the event to come, which is not without anx-
well-known critique of “logo-centrism.” Derrida’s frequent
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

use of puns and wordplay is not a substitute for an argument
Religious thinkers are fascinated by a distinction Derri-
but an exemplification of a theory about wordplay, which il-
da introduced in the 1990s between the concrete “messia-
lustrates the unmasterable, unintended dimension of lan-
nisms”—the three great monotheistic religions of the book,
guage, the semantic, graphic, and phonic chains that no in-
as well as the philosophical eschatologies of G. W. F. Hegel,
tentional agent can contain. James Joyce, an early hero of
Karl Marx, and Heidegger—and the pure “messianic” or
Derrida’s, embodies this point about language almost per-
“messianicity.” The pure messianic means the formal struc-
fectly. This disseminative effect is not something that a clever
ture of desire, expectancy, or openness, the pure structure of
writer or reader is doing to the text, exerting a kind of vio-
the “to come” (à venir)—like the hospitality to come, the jus-
lence or mastery over it, but an auto-deconstructive opera-
tice to come, and, most famously, the “democracy to
tion going on within the linguistic network itself.
come”—that is concretized in the historical messianisms. In
virtue of the pure messianic, one can speak of a “religion
That this is not interpretive anarchy but responsible
without religion,” a religious desire without confessional
work, Derrida thinks, is clear to anyone who reads carefully.
dogma or institutional ties. The “democracy to come” is not
Anyone who reads Greek philosophy carefully knows that
a Kantian regulative ideal, which brings a concept to ideal
there is all the difference between “Plato,” a shorthand for
completion beyond its empirical limits, because, for Derrida,
a cluster of condensed philosophical theses, summarized and
democracy is not a concept or an essence on which we are
passed along in prepackaged histories of philosophy, and a
making asymptotic progress, but a moment in the open-
close, careful reading of or immersion into Plato’s writings,
endedness of history that makes possible an event, whose
which reveals multiple voices, dramatic devices, conflicting
coming cannot be foreseen and whose name is not known,
and suggestive counter-motifs, and loose threads—in short,
and where nothing guarantees that it will not bring forth a
a “text,” a highly woven and interwoven complex, not a neat-
monster instead of a messiah. “Secular” political theory, and
ly argued “book” under the absolute conscious control of an
philosophy generally, is always transcribing an “unavowed
“author.” We might add that anyone who has studied the
theologeme,” like the messianic promise, thus skewing any
Jewish or Christian scriptures carefully will understand that
rigorous distinction between the religious and secular, faith
these are “texts” in just this sense; that is, a complex weave
and reason, religion and the nonreligious, prayer and social
(or “palimpsest”) of many voices, competing theological and
hope, theism and atheism.
political agendas, redactive layerings, anonymous interven-
tions, lost stories, liturgies, and multiple extra-textual refer-
This is not to say that religious thinkers were not inter-
ences or reinscriptions of earlier texts, texts without fixed
ested in deconstruction from the start. The early essay “Dif-
“margins.” In the same way, conservative critics charge de-
ferance” (1967) started a discussion with negative theology
construction with being out to destroy “tradition,” but Der-
that dominated the dialogue between deconstruction and
rida would respond that he only wants to show its immense
theology until the late 1990s. As Derrida says, he loves the
complexity and competing voices; there is no such thing as
syntax, semantics, and the tropes of negative theology, which
“tradition” in the singular but rather an interweaving of
is a self-effacing discourse, a discourse that attempts to erase
many traditions and counter-traditions, of dominant and re-
its own traces. Beyond matters of style, the critique of the
cessive voices, and even of chance mutations in manuscripts.
metaphysics of presence in deconstruction (what is present
Close readings of the past—the uncovering of forgotten
is deconstructible; the undeconstructible is never present)
women, for example—opens up hitherto closed possibilities
bears a substantive analogy to the critique of idols in apopha-
for the future. Deconstruction is very conservative, Derrida
tic theology (if you comprehend it, it is not God; if it is God,
once quipped, because the only way to love and be loyal to
you cannot comprehend it). Nonetheless, while negative the-
the past is to deconstruct it.
ology clearly uses deconstructive techniques, deconstruction
is not negative theology, because it has no commitment to
Although Derrida’s avant-garde style of writing, espe-
a hyperousios, to a Godhead beyond God or a God beyond
cially early on, lent superficial credibility to the misinterpre-
being. The exchange between Derrida and Jean-Luc Marion
tation of deconstruction as a form of relativism or even nihil-
is the most important in this regard.
ism, no one today can mistake the sustained seriousness of
the later writings, whose ethical, political, and even religious
In the 1980s, deconstruction was appropriated by the
character is beyond doubt. Reading his account of the “gift
theology of the “death of God,” most notably in Mark C.
without return” or “forgiving the unforgivable,” more in-
Taylor’s Erring: A Postmodern A/theology (1984). Taylor ar-
formed critics today will accuse him of a Kantian rigorism
gued that the first wave of death-of-God thinking in the
or unrealistic ethical purism, an accusation that he also re-
nineteenth century left the old God standing under the new
jects. From the early 1980s on, Derrida has written not only
name of Humanity. Deconstruction is the true hermeneutics
about the gift and forgiveness, but about justice and the law,
of the death of God because it has displaced any absolute
hospitality, friendship, democracy, capital punishment, and
center, human or divine, with the free play of signifiers. God
international human rights. In 2003 he published Voyous, a
has descended into the world without remainder, even as
book about the denunciation of “rogue states” by the West-
scripture has descended into écriture without remainder, a
ern democracies.
reading that reflected the Nietzschean understanding of Der-
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

rida then dominant in American departments of literature.
Since then a different appreciation of the religious dimension
of deconstruction has emerged in thinkers such as John
Caputo, Kevin Hart, and Hent de Vries, for whom decon-
struction is the hermeneutics not of the death but of the de-
sire for God.
SEE ALSO Heidegger, Martin; Literature, article on Critical
Theory and Religious Studies; Structuralism.
DEIFICATION. The Latin term deificatio does not ap-
pear until late in the Roman era, and then first in Christian
literature, particularly in the controversies involving the Nes-
Altizer, Thomas J. J., ed. Deconstruction and Theology. New York,
torians, who blamed the orthodox for “deifying” the body
of Christ. In current usage, the English term deification is
equivalent to apotheosis. In light of history, however, apotheo-
Caputo, John D. The Prayers and Tears of Jacques Derrida: Religion
sis might be reserved to refer to the consecration of heroes,
without Religion. Bloomington, Ind., 1997.
of political personages, of Hellenistic sovereigns and, nota-
Carlson, Thomas A. Indiscretion: Finitude and the Naming of God.
bly, of Roman emperors. In this article the subject will be
Chicago, 1999.
the deification of individuals or of things generally through
Derrida, Jacques. Writing and Difference. Translated by Alan Bass.
means that correspond to certain general tendencies of
Chicago, 1978.
Greco-Roman paganism.
Derrida, Jacques. “Circumfession: Fifty-nine Periods and Periph-
rases.” In Jacques Derrida, by Geoffrey Bennington and
death makes the radical difference between men and gods,
Jacques Derrida, translated by Geoffrey Bennington. Chica-
the problem of deification is indeed that of immortalization.
go, 1993.
In the Classical epoch, the Greeks attributed the power of
immortalizing (athanatizein) to the Getae and to the Thra-
Derrida, Jacques. On the Name. Edited by Thomas Dutoit. Stan-
ford, Calif., 1995.
cians through a kind of shamanism that may have involved
Zalmoxis. No evidence exists of the ritual patterns of these
Derrida, Jacques. The Gift of Death. Translated by David Wills.
practices, but they must have been based on a doctrine of the
Chicago, 1995.
soul and on the existence of spiritual elites. Zalmoxis was re-
Derrida, Jacques. Monolingualism of the Other, or, The Prosthesis
garded as a daimo¯n and as a disciple of Pythagoras. The con-
of Origin. Translated by Patrick Mensah. Stanford, Calif.,
nection is significant, since belief in metempsychosis is some-
times attributed to the Thracians.
Derrida, Jacques. “On Forgiveness: A Roundtable Discussion with
The belief in metempsychosis is tied to the first explicit
Jacques Derrida.” In Questioning God, edited by Mark Doo-
formulation of a deification of persons through asceticism
ley, Michael Scanlon, and John D. Caputo. Bloomington,
and the satisfaction of penalties consequent upon the plea-
Ind., 2001.
sures of previous lives. It is found in the writings of the Py-
Derrida, Jacques. Acts of Religion. Edited by Gil Anidjar. London
thagorean philosopher Empedocles (frag. 145–146): a soul
and New York, 2002.
is a kind of “demon” that is bound to the cycle of reincarna-
Derrida, Jacques. Voyous. Paris, 2003.
tion in expiation for its faults. At the end of purifying rein-
carnations, after having been “prophets, cantors, physicians
Derrida, Jacques, and John D. Caputo. Deconstruction in a Nut-
. . . ,” these fallen and ransomed “demons” are “reborn as
shell: A Conversation with Jacques Derrida. Edited with a
gods”: they become the “table companions of the immor-
commentary. New York, 1997.
tals.” The last two verses of the Pythagorean Golden Verses
Derrida, Jacques, and Jean-Luc Marion. “On the Gift: A Discus-
(70f.) offer hope of a state like that of an immortal god for
sion between Jacques Derrida and Jean-Luc Marion.” In
the sage “who, having left his body behind, goes forward into
God, the Gift, and Postmodernism, edited by John D. Caputo
the free ether.” Hierocles would explain this deifying libera-
and Michael J. Scanlon. Bloomington, Ind., 1999.
tion of the soul as the “highest aim of the hieratic and sacred
de Vries, Hent. Philosophy and the Turn to Religion. Baltimore,
craft,” that is, of philosophy. Deification, then, consists of
restoring the personal daimo¯n to its authentic status as an im-
Hart, Kevin. The Trespass of the Sign: Deconstruction, Theology, and
mortal god. It is the goal of a spiritual asceticism confirmed
Philosophy. New York, 2000.
by various means of testing.
Horner, Robyn. Rethinking God as Gift: Marion, Derrida, and the
The same teaching is implicit in Plato, notably in the
Limits of Phenomenology. New York, 2001.
Phaedo (69c, 114c), where the philosopher is talking not ex-
pressly about a deification, but rather about a sojourn among
Taylor, Mark C. Erring: A Postmodern A/theology. Chicago, 1984.
the gods. It is also seemingly implicit in the inscriptions en-
graved upon the noted golden tablets of Thurii (fourth to
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

third century BCE) and of Rome (second century CE). These
against death and infernal demons. Dionysos was held to
assure the deceased that he will be a god by virtue of his heav-
have returned from the nether regions along with his mother
enly ancestry, his divine race, and the sentence that he has
Semele, and to have been “reborn.” His myth provided a
served. Caecilia Secundina “became divine according to the
model for the rebirth of any initiate, to whom the same im-
law,” that is, by the law that governs reincarnations (Orphi-
mortality was promised (Turcan, 1966, pp. 396ff., 436ff.,
corum fragmenta 32g.4). The deceased in one of these tablets
466ff.). This regeneration required the (figurative) death of
states expressly that he has escaped at last the “circle of sor-
the initiate, who was subjected to a rite of katabasis. The ini-
rows,” an image that elsewhere is applied to the cycle of re-
tiate was seen as undergoing the same trials of initiation that
births. Whether these tablets bear inscribed fragments of an
had turned Dionysos into a true Bacchus (ibid., pp. 406ff.).
Orphic “book of the dead,” of a missa pro defunctis, or of a
The Neoplatonists compared the restoration of the soul (pu-
Pythagorean hieros logos (“sacred teaching”), their formulary
rified and reintegrated in God) to the awakening of Dionysos
promises a posthumous deification.
Liknites (ibid., p. 401). The initiation of the cult of Isis offers
many comparisons. The neophyte had to die to his previous
The same point of view is declared on the new tablet
life, and the ritual involved a descent into hell, with some
of Hipponium: the soul of the deceased woman will take “the
kind of mystical or hallucinatory journey through the cos-
sacred path along which the other initiates and Bacchants
mos. Yet as recompense the initiate was defied, adorned “ad
walk unto glory.” The reference is to Orphic Bacchants. It
instar Solis” (“as a likeness of the Sun,” that is, Osiris-Helios),
is significant that Orphic vegetarianism expresses the desire
and held up to the faithful as an idol. The benevolence of
to live not as men but as gods. This asceticism had the aim
Isis, who judged someone to be worthy, made the neophyte
of purifying man from his Titanic components by liberating
into a new Osiris. The funeral rites of mummification in an-
the Bacchus within him. A liberation of this sort coincides,
cient Egypt had the same purpose. Yet in figuratively antici-
as it does in Empedocles and Plato, with the escape from the
pating the initiate’s death, the mysteries of Isis during the
“circle of genesis.” The Orphic-Pythagorean deification thus
Roman epoch in some way democratized apotheosis, in that
presupposes a persevering action directed toward oneself, a
in its beginnings only pharaohs were the beneficiaries.
cathartic and mystic tension. When Hippolytus (Philosophu-
6.9.25) attributes to Pythagoras the statement that
The mysteries of Cybele likewise promised a regenera-
souls “become immortal, once they are detached from their
tion to their adherents and an elevation (epanodos) toward
bodies,” this does not mean that physical death liberates
the gods. Just as in the initiation of the cult of Isis, the initi-
them automatically, but that immortality is the reward for
ate is thought of as dying like Attis, in order to share in the
continual effort at personal purification. This conviction is
love of Cybele in a blessed hieros gamos. The Galli, by castrat-
based upon a dualist anthropology.
ing themselves, identified with Attis. To avoid this personal
bodily sacrifice, use was made of the taurobolium, the ritual
sacrifice of a bull. The function and meaning of the tauro-
Pythagorean ideas were disseminated with variations (espe-
bolium are debated (R. Duthoy, The Taurobolium: Its Evolu-
cially involving metempsychosis) by advocates of Platonism
tion and Terminology, Leiden, 1969). Yet the fact remains
and Neoplatonism. Ever since the Classical epoch, the Or-
that the beneficiary of the taurobolium was factitiously iden-
phic mystics, as well as various wandering charlatans, had
tified with the victim by drenching himself in the victim’s
promised, through the use of specialized formulas, not a reli-
blood, thereby becoming an Attis that those present could
gious purification, but only an ethical purification in the
worship. Just like the initiate of Isis, the initiate of Attis was
spirit of the philosophers. Later, during the Hellenistic age,
“reborn” through the taurobolium: in aeternum renatus.
the multiplication and success of mystery religions popular-
Whatever the rites or mysteries, the resting with a divine na-
ized a new form of deification.
ture was thought of as a regeneration (Nilsson, 1974,
These cults—centered on deities who were regarded as
p. 653). This feature is also seen in Hermetic deification.
having lived and suffered among men—put into question
the radical distinction between cursed mortals and blessed
trology with an initiation, Vettius Valens (second century
immortals. Insofar as they made their initiates relive in a li-
CE) identifies contemplation of the stars with a kind of mysti-
turgical way the trials of the gods who had died and revived
cal union with God: the knowledge of the heavens “divi-
(Osiris) or were reborn (Attis), the mystery religions con-
nizes” the man who possesses it, as if the subject came to
nected their devotees with an adventure that ended with vic-
merge with the object. This is even more true of the knowl-
tory over death. Indeed, the initiation that, at first, was re-
edge of God when, in the imperial epoch, philosophy be-
garded as giving the candidates some assurance of a kind of
comes theosophy. In the Corpus Hermeticum, this idea recurs
privileged status in the beyond (Eleusis) tended also to safe-
frequently, “for this is the blessed end of those who have the
guard them against bad luck, and even to deify them by a
knowledge: they become God” (Corpus Hermeticum 1.26).
form of ritual identification with Dionysos, Attis, or Osiris.
The good choice—that of divine things—“deifies man”
The Dionysian mysteries made a Bacchus of the initiate; the
(ibid., 4.7). We are “divinized” by the birth into spiritual life
consecration of the initiate by means of the winnowing bas-
that constitutes gnosis. Asclepius 41 gives thanks to the su-
ket and the phallus regenerated him by immunizing him
preme God, that he has deigned to “consecrate for eternity,”
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that is, to deify men in the flesh. This affirmation seems to
reproached pagans: the very idea that men could make gods!
conflict with that in Corpus Hermeticum 10.6, where it is de-
The most frequently denounced example of idolatrous fic-
nied that the soul can be divinized while in a body.
tion is that of Serapis who, according to Origen (Against Cel-
5.38), owed his existence “to the profane mysteries and
Indeed, Hermetic gnosis supposes a complete regenera-
to the practices of sorcerers invoking demons.” Indeed, teles-
tion. It is the new man enlightened and reborn in God who
tic action consists of causing divine influence to enter into
becomes a god by dying to physical life and by becoming
idols, to “animate” them or to illuminate them through the
alien to the world even in this life. Regeneration consists of
magical process known as pho¯tago¯gia. This consecration of
the substitution of ten good “powers” (including “the knowl-
statues employing magical formulas played a great role in late
edge of God”) for twelve evil “powers” attributable to the zo-
diac. The disciple then identifies himself with the cosmic
eternity, Aion, and he is then divinized. This is the very rec-
ommendation that Nous makes to Hermes: “Become Aion,
ment of tombs displays the concern for deifying individuals
and you will understand God” (ibid., 11.20). Here again it
by analogy or through iconography. This tendency was first
is a matter of restoring the soul to its original state: “You are
evident in Rome among the class of freedmen who sought
born a god and a child of the One,” declares Hermes to Tat
thus to insure themselves some kind of moral promotion.
(ibid., 13.14).
Their cippi or stelae represent, from the first century CE,
Herakles, Hermes, Dionysos, and Artemis portrayed after
Similarly, the Gnostic systems derived from Christian
the image of the deceased man or woman. The epitaphs, the
inspiration, whatever the variations in their myths and their
architecture of the tombs, and the literary tradition confirm
soteriology, envision only the final restoration of the spirit
the intention to identify the dead with gods, goddesses, and
to its original divine state. Finally, the idea that by knowing
heroes. When the use of sarcophagi began to prevail at the
oneself one learns to know God and to be known by him
time of the Antonines, sepulchral imagery manifested even
so as to be “deified,” or “generated into immortality,” is ex-
more clearly the same concerns that are evident among
pressed by orthodox Christians (Hippolytus, Philosophumena
higher social circles; emperors and empresses provided the
10.34). In contrast with Hermes Trismegistos, Hippolytus
example. This style of funerary deification consisted either
promises the Christian a body that will be as immortal and
of featuring the deceased’s medallion portrait (imago elipeata)
incorruptible as the soul itself. But, like the Hermetist, the
as being carried by the gods (Tritons, Centaurs, Victories,
Christian must also die to the old man and to the profane
Erotes) or of giving the sculpted god, goddess, or hero the
same features as the dead man or woman, who could then
be seen as Dionysos, Ariadne, Mars, Hercules, Endymion,
of deification are comparable to Hermetic gnosis, at least in-
or Selene. Imagery of predatory animals (eagles, griffins) or
sofar as they are presented as “formulas for immortality” that
gods (Dioscuri, Pluto) also implies a deification by analogy.
feature magical concepts. This is true in the case of the so-
Finally, sarcophagi with figures of the Muses, or with scenes
called Mithraic liturgy (end of the third century CE), where
of teaching, of battle, or of hunting, heroize the deceased
the name of Mithra appears as only one of those associated
through association with the depicted qualities of gallantry
at that time with the sun. The ritual involves prayers and a
or erudition.
journey of the spirit that in some way anticipates the posthu-
Thus, in the Hellenistic and Roman world, philosophy,
mous ascension of the soul unto Helios and the heavenly
theosophy, magic, mystery religions, and the cult of the dead
Aion, both invoked for the occasion. As in Hermetism, the
all aspired to the same goal (one that on principle was exclud-
apathanatismos asserts that a subject is regenerated by the
ed in Classical Greek religion): for the individual person to
very object of his theosophical quest, but this is conditional
become or become again a god.
to the exact application of a formula. Other magical texts in-
sist upon the importance of knowledge revealed by the god
SEE ALSO Apotheosis; Soul, article on Greek and Hellenistic
or gods: “We thank you for . . . having divinized us through
Concepts; Theurgy; Thracian Religion.
the knowledge of your being,” states one papyrus. Following
the death of the magus, Aion carries away his breath (pneu-
ma) by way of rescuing it from Hades, “as befits a god.” The
Bianchi, Ugo. The Greek Mysteries. Leiden, 1976.
neophyte is “reborn” and freed from fate, as was the initiate
Bianchi, Ugo, and Maarten J. Vermaseren, eds. La soteriologia dei
of Isis. Neoplatonic theurgy would give its approval to pagan
culti orientali nell ’Impero Romano. Leiden, 1982.
magic, and Psellus could believe that it was capable of mak-
Dieterich, Albrecht. Eine Mithrasliturgie. 3d ed. Leipzig, 1923.
ing gods of men.
Dodds, E. R. The Greeks and the Irrational. Berkeley, 1951.
The magus could also deify animals by ritually mummi-
Festugière, A.-J. La révélation d’Hermès Trismégiste, vols. 3 and 4.
fying them in accordance with traditional Egyptian practices.
Paris, 1953–1954.
Further, he could deify idols through telestic action and the-
Festugière, A.-J. Hermétisme et mystique païenne. Paris, 1967.
urgy. In this sense, Asclepius 23 affirms that man is the cre-
Festugière, A.-J. Études de religion grecque et hellénistique. Paris,
ator of gods. It was precisely for this reason that Christians
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

Festugière, A.-J. L’idéal religieux des Grecs et l’evangile. 2d ed. Paris,
Some Deists completely rejected all revealed and ecclesi-
astical religion, adopted anticlerical attitudes, challenged the
Jonas, Hans. The Gnostic Religion. 2d ed., rev. Boston, 1963.
scriptural canon, questioned the credibility of miracle narra-
Nilsson, Martin P. Geschichte des griechischen Religion, vol. 2, Die
tives, or even rejected the New Testament as fabrication and
hellenistische und römische Zeit. 3d rev. ed. Munich, 1974.
imposture. Thus Edward Stillingfleet, bishop of Worcester,
Reitzenstein, Richard. The Hellenistic Mystery Religions. Translated
described the addressee of his polemical Letter to a Deist
by John E. Steely. Pittsburgh, 1978.
(1677) as “a particular person who owned the Being and
Providence of God, but expressed mean esteem of the Scrip-
Rohde, Erwin. Psyche: The Cult of Souls and Belief in Immortality
among the Greeks (1925). Translated by W. B. Hillis. Lon-
tures and the Christian Religion.” Yet a number of influen-
don, 1950.
tial seventeenth- and eighteenth-century British thinkers de-
scribed themselves as “Christian Deists” on the grounds that
Schilling, Robert. “La déification à Rome: Tradition latine et in-
terférence grecque.” Revue des études latines 58 (1980): 137ff.
they accepted both the Christian religion based on supernat-
ural revelation and a Deistic religion based solely on natural
Turcan, Robert. Les sarcophages romains à représentations diony-
reason, consistent with Christianity but independent of any
siaques. Paris, 1966.
revealed authority.
Wrede, Henning. Consecratio in formam deorum: Vergöttlichte
Privatpersonen in der römischen Kaiserzeit. Mainz am Rhein,
Thus, even the principal sense of deism, which refers to
belief in God without belief in supernatural revelation, is in-
Zuntz, Günther. Persephone: Three Essays on Religion and Thought
herently imprecise. No sharp dividing line can be drawn be-
in Magna Graecia. Oxford, 1971.
tween Christian or revelationist Deists and Deists who recog-
nized no revelation. The former often accepted Christian
Translated from French by Paul C. Duggan
revelation precisely because it accords with natural or ratio-
nal religion and sometimes advocated allegorical readings of
scripture in order to secure this agreement, while the latter
often disavowed any “mean esteem” of Christian scriptures
The term deism was originally equivalent to the-
and expressed admiration for the inspiring way in which the
ism, differing only in etymology: theism based on the Greek
truths of natural religion were presented in them. Further,
word for god (theos), and deism on the Latin (deus). In the
there is no sharp line separating Christian Deists and ortho-
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, however, deism came
dox Christian theologians (such as Thomas Aquinas or Duns
to signify one or another form of rationalistic theological un-
Scotus) who maintain that some parts of Christian doctrine
orthodoxy. Often used pejoratively, it was also sometimes
can be known by natural reason.
worn as a badge of honor. The first known use of the term
occurs in the Instruction chrétienne (1564) of the Calvinist
Deism was most prominent in England, the only place
theologian Pierre Viret: “I have heard he is of that band who
where it approached the status of a movement. Among its
call themselves ‘Deists,’ a wholly new word which they
best-known representatives were Lord Herbert of Cherbury
would oppose to ‘Atheist.’”
(1583–1648), author of De veritate (1624); his disciple
In its principal meaning, deism signifies the belief in a
Charles Blount (1654–1693); John Toland (1670–1722),
single God and in a religious practice founded solely on natu-
author of Christianity not Mysterious (1696); Anthony Col-
ral reason rather than on supernatural revelation. Thus Viret
lins (1676–1729); and Matthew Tindal (1657–1733), au-
characterizes deists as “those who profess belief in God as cre-
thor of Christianity as Old as the Creation (1730), often de-
ator of heaven and earth, but reject Jesus Christ and his doc-
scribed as “the Deist’s Bible.” The powerful influence of
trines.” John Dryden’s preface to his poem Religio Laici
English Deism is attested by the sizable number of attacks
(1682) defines deism as “the opinion of those that acknowl-
on it by the orthodox, including not only Stillingfleet, but
edge one God, without the reception of any revealed reli-
also Richard Bentley, Charles Leslie, Samuel Clarke, and
gion.” The currency of the term in the eighteenth century
(most famously) Joseph Butler in his Analogy of Religion
was undoubtedly enhanced by the article on Viret in Pierre
(1736). Deism also met with vicious persecution in England,
Bayle’s Dictionnaire historique et critique (1697).
where blasphemy was punishable by forfeiture of civil rights,
fines, and even imprisonment. At least two prominent Deists
Like most epithets of controversy, deism was used in a
were imprisoned for expressing their blasphemous opinions:
number of senses other than its principal one. It was often
Thomas Woolston (1670–1733) was sent to prison in 1729
used as a vague term of abuse with no determinate meaning
and died there; Peter Annet was fined, pilloried, and impris-
at all. Among the chief subordinate or deviant senses of the
oned to hard labor in 1764 at age seventy.
term are (1) belief in a supreme being lacking in all attributes
of personality (such as intellect and will); (2) belief in a God,
Deism is generally associated with British religious
but denial of any divine providential care for the world; (3)
thought. However, a number of major continental religious
belief in a God, but denial of any future life; (4) belief in a
thinkers of the late sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth
God, but rejection of all other articles of religious faith (so
centuries clearly qualify as Deists under the principal mean-
defined by Samuel Johnson in his Dictionary, 1755).
ing of the term. They include Giordano Bruno (1548–1600)
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and Lucilio Vanini (1584–1619), both burned as heretics for
rey’s Voltaire and the English Deists (1930; reprint, Hamden,
rejecting ecclesiastical authority and scriptural revelation;
Conn., 1967) and Ernest C. Mossner’s Bishop Butler and the
Barukh Spinoza (1632–1677); François-Marie Arouet (Vol-
Age of Reason (New York, 1936). Perhaps the two most clas-
taire; 1694–1778); Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778);
sic works on religion by thinkers identified above as Deists
Hermann Samuel Reimarus (1694–1768); Gotthold Ephra-
are Barukh Spinoza’s Tractatus theologico-politicus (1670),
im Lessing (1729–1781); Moses Mendelssohn (1729–1786);
translated by R. H. M. Elwes in Chief Works, vol. 1 (1883;
reprint, New York, 1955), and Immanuel Kant’s Religion
and Immanuel Kant (1724–1804). (Both Voltaire and Kant,
within the Limits of Reason Alone (1793), translated by Theo-
however, repudiated the label “Deist” and always described
dore M. Greene and Hoyt H. Hudson (LaSalle, Ill., 1960).
themselves as “Theists.”) There were outspoken Deists
among the founding fathers of the United States of America,
ALLEN W. WOOD (1987)
notably Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790), Thomas Paine
(1737–1809), and Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826).
Deism appears to be exclusively a seventeenth- and eigh-
DEITY. As a symbol, deity represents the human struggle
teenth-century phenomenon, but this is partly an illusion.
at its highest; it represents humanity’s effort to discover its
There are special reasons why the term deism attained curren-
identity in confrontation with the limits of its universe.
cy then but did not survive longer. The rise of modern sci-
Deity is the symbol of what transcends the human being and
ence did not immediately initiate warfare of science with reli-
the symbol of what lies hidden most deeply within. While
gion, but it did initiate warfare within religion, between the
other creatures merely accept their environments as a given,
orthodox who held fast to tradition, authority, and the su-
human beings exist as such only when they realize both their
pernatural, and the freethinkers, who sought a religion that
solidarity with the universe and their distinction from it. In
harmonized with nature and reason. A term was needed by
the journey toward self-identity humanity encounters deity.
the orthodox to distinguish the freethinkers from themselves,
In a cross-cultural context, deity symbolizes the transcen-
and by the religious freethinkers to distinguish themselves
dence of all the limitations of human consciousness and the
from mere atheists. Deism served both needs. The term has
movement of the human spirit toward self-identity through
fallen into disuse in the past two centuries, however, perhaps
its encounter with the ultimate. Deity symbolizes humanity’s
chiefly because in nineteenth- and twentieth-century philo-
knowledge that it is not alone nor the ultimate master of its
sophical and religious thought the distinctions between rea-
fate. And yet this knowledge, dim though it may be, asso-
son and tradition, nature and supernature, have lost the
ciates humanity with this same deity. Deity both transcends
sharpness they had for thinkers of the seventeenth and eigh-
and envelops humanity; it is inseparable from humanity’s
teenth centuries. Greater tolerance of diversity of opinion
awareness of its own identity and yet is always elusive, hid-
within Christian society has also lessened the need for an epi-
den, and for some, seemingly nonexistent.
thet whose principal function was to scourge independent
THE POLYSEMY OF THE WORD. Deity is a word with a diver-
thinkers. Deism itself has also become a less popular posi-
sity of meanings. It is an ambiguous and often polemical
tion, owing to the increasing tendency of rationalists to be-
word. The different interpretations that it has been given
come simple unbelievers rather than to settle for compro-
show that it is also a relative word.
mises and half-measures. Yet deism—in fact, if not in
name—still survives in all religious communities and indi-
Ambiguity. The word deity is ambiguous. It is not a
viduals whose convictions arise from autonomous thinking
proper name. It is not even a common name, since its possi-
rather than from the submission of reason to ecclesiastical or
ble referents are hardly homogeneous. It is the product of
scriptural authorities.
many and heterogeneous abstractions. Most names referring
to divine beings or the divine were originally common names
SEE ALSO Bruno, Giordano; Doubt and Belief; Enlighten-
singled out in a peculiar way. What was general became spe-
ment, The; Kant, Immanuel; Lessing, G.E.; Mendelssohn,
cific, concrete, and, like a single being, evocative of emotion.
Moses; Reimarus, Hermann Samuel; Rousseau, Jean-
Thus Alla¯h probably comes from al-illah, that is, “the God.”
Jacques; Spinoza, Barukh; Theism.
Ñinyi or Nnui, the name for God among the Bamum of
Cameroon, means “he who is everywhere”—and thus is at
once concrete and elusive. Yahveh means “he who is” (or “he
An excellent nineteenth-century account of British Deism is to be
who shall be”), which becomes being par excellence for
found in Leslie Stephen’s History of English Thought in the
Christian Scholasticism. S´iva means “auspicious, benign,
Eighteenth Century, vol. 1 (1876; reprint, New York, 1963).
kind”—what for the S´aivas represents the highest symbol of
A detailed account of Deistic thinkers is presented by J. M.
the deity stripped of any attribute.
Robertson in A History of Freethought, Ancient and Modern,
vol. 2, To the Period of the French Revolution, 4th ed. (Lon-
In short, there are gods called Alla¯h, Nnui, Yahveh,
don, 1936). For the social background of Deism, see W. K.
S´iva; but there is no god called Deity. One worships Vis:n:u,
Jordan’s Development of Religious Toleration in England, 4
or even the Buddha, but one does not worship deity as such.
vols. (1932–1940; reprint, Gloucester, Mass., 1965). Two
One may worship only a particular deity. We often speak of
very good studies of aspects of Deism are Norman L. Tor-
“major” and “minor” deities in religious traditions. The
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word deity, in short, has a higher degree of abstractness than
tification of so many ideologies by slogans such as “In God
does the word God.
we trust” or “Gott mit uns.” Deity has been all too often the
cause of strife and war, sometimes under the guise of peace.
In Western antiquity, in the Middle Ages, and up to the
present, deity in its adjectival or pronominal form is a word
Relativity. From the perspective of a sociology of
applied to creatures and used without theological misgivings.
knowledge, the modern use of the word deity could be inter-
Works and persons are called “divine” and “deities” because
preted as the Western effort to open up a broader horizon
they share in deity in a way in which they would not be said
than that of a monotheistic God but without breaking conti-
to share in God. Spiritual writers or popular heroes are called
nuity with tradition. God was a common name. It became
“divines” in many languages. The word simply denotes a
a proper name: the Abrahamic God. And it was then that
character of (divine) excellence, which can be shared by
this God came to designate the one God, which Muslims or
many creatures.
Christians wanted to propagate around the world. All others
were “mere” gods or, at most, inappropriate names for the
The word god was also originally a common name, but
true God. It is interesting to see how Western scholarship
soon became the proper name of the one God of the theists
today tries to disentangle itself from its monolithic and colo-
(and also of the atheists, for many atheists are merely anti-
nial mentality. Is the word deity the last bulwark of this
theists; both live within the mythic horizon of the one per-
sonal God, accepting or rejecting it). By extension scholars
speak of the African gods, discuss the nature of a supreme
We may draw two opposing conclusions from the para-
god, and the like.
doxical fact that this word denotes both the most communi-
cable and the most exclusive aspects of the “divine” reality:
At any rate, deity is not identical with god. One does not
everything that is shares a divine character, and nothing—no
believe in deity in the individualized sense in which one may
thing—that is can be said to embody or exhaust the divine,
believe in God. Yet one may accept that there is something
not even the totality of those things that are. In sum: the
referred to by the word deity. The referent will always retain
word says everything, every thing, and nothing, no thing.
a certain mystery and show certain features of freedom, infin-
One legitimate conclusion from this ambiguity may be that
ity, immanence, transcendence, or the like. For others, this
one should avoid the word altogether or speak of deities in
mysterious entity becomes the highest example of supersti-
the plural as special superhuman (divine) entities.
tion, primitivism, unevolved consciousness, and a pretense
There is another possible conclusion, however. Precisely
for exploiting others under the menace of an awesome and
because of its polysemic nature, this word may become a fun-
imaginary power. The ambiguity of the word is great.
damental category for the study and understanding of reli-
Polemical usage. At the same time deity is also a polem-
gion. The subject matter of religion would then be related
ical word. It has sometimes stood against some conceptions
to deity, and not just to God or to gods. Polysemy does not
of God without rejecting the divine altogether. The philo-
need to mean confusion. It means a richness of meanings,
sophical Deism of the last centuries in Europe, which devel-
a variety of senses. Deity could then become a true word, that
oped a concept of the divine more congenial to the natural
is, a symbol not yet eroded by habit, rather than a univocal
sciences emerging at the time than to the idea of a personal
god, could serve as an example. The deity of the Deists was
I should now try to describe the field of the symbol
to substitute for and correct the theos of the theists without
“deity” and study its structure. Regarding its field I shall ana-
discarding the belief in the existence of some supreme being
lyze the means of approach to this symbol in its broadest as-
or first cause. Yet this polemic was not new to the eighteenth
pect. Then, I shall examine the structure of deity by analyz-
century. The prolific Greek writer-priest at Delphi, Plutarch
ing the different avenues, contexts, and perspectives under
of Chaeronea (c. 46–c. 119 CE), our first source for the word
which deity has been studied. I shall then mention the struc-
theot¯es, uses it in his polemic against the mythological inter-
ture of human consciousness when referring to deity. I shall
pretations of historical heroes as they appeared in the work
further briefly compare deity with other equally broad cate-
of Euhemerus of Messina (fl. 300 BCE). In the New Testa-
gories in order to get a more accurate picture, and finally I
ment this word, in the only passage in which it appears (Col.
shall try to summarize my findings.
2:9), is translated by the old Latin deitas, whereas the Vulgate
uses the more current divinitas—a word unknown before
N APPROACH TO DEITY. This article does not deal primari-
ly with the concept of God as it is generally understood in
Cicero (106–43 BCE). In the Letter to the Romans 1:20 we
the Western world, and therefore it is not necessary to dis-
find the word theiotes derived from the adjective theios and
cuss, for instance, atheism or the nature of God. Further, this
also translated as divinitas in the Vulgate.
essay’s cross-cultural perspective requires that the viewpoints
Deity is not only polemical in regard to a personal con-
of other cultures be integrated with our own instead of sim-
ception of God. It is polemical also as a symbol of the politi-
ply reported. Still we are engaged in what is predominantly
cal use of the divine. We should not forget the wars of reli-
a Western activity: taking a perspective from one tradition
gion, the attempted legitimation of power and use of
(as betrayed by the very use of the word deity) and expanding
violence in the name of God, gods, and divinity, nor the jus-
it in order to achieve a more universal viewpoint.
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Linguistic background. Johann Gottlieb Fichte
would then be a purely formal concept with no significant
(1762–1814) provides us with a caution: “Deity appears only
content whatsoever.
in the highest performance of thinking.” We must keep in
We may note the tendency, especially common to the
mind at the very outset that discourse about deity is unique,
West, to universalize what is familiar, as in the following sen-
because the locus of deity is beyond both the things of the
tences: “The Christian God is an absolute value for all; mod-
senses and the things of the intellect. Yet the way to deity
ern technology is fit for the entire world; the natural sciences
belongs to the dynamism of our intellect. This is expressed
are universally valid; truth is universal.” We shall have to
in the first sentence of the Brahma Su¯tra: “Atha¯to
avoid such pretension if we are to take other cultures as seri-
brahmajijña¯sa¯” (“Now therefore the desire to know brah-
ously as we take Western cultures. The word deity cannot en-
man”). The text refers to the “desiderative knowledge” or the
compass all that other traditions have said about what in one
“knowing desire” (jijña¯sa¯), which arises out of an existential
group of cultures can be rendered by deity. Were we to use
situation (atha). It liberates us from the weight of selfishness
the term brahman or kami instead of deity, our meaning
(aham:ka¯ra), permitting us to soar in the search for deity. The
would change. The context being different, the results would
process follows both an existential and an intellectual path,
also be different. Thus we must be careful in making extrapo-
with no separation between pure and practical reason. Deity
lations and avoid generalizations that are not warranted by
is as much at the beginning as at the end of the human
the self-understanding of the different cultures of the world.
quest—and also in between. The search requires purity of
mind, strength of will, and a change of life.
With these preliminary warnings in mind, we may now
examine the distinction between God and deity. This dis-
While speaking of deity we have already had occasion
tinction was known to medieval Christianity and was given
to refer to God, and we now introduce brahman. Do all these
clear expression by Meister Eckhart in his distinction be-
words designate the same “thing”? Or have they at least the
tween the godhead and God. The godhead, or deity, is as far
same meaning?
from God as heaven is from earth. Deity is here the inner
and passive aspect of the divine mystery and is related to the
Brahman is certainly not the one true and living God
deus absconditus that was much commented upon during the
of the Abrahamic traditions. Nor can it be said that Shang-ti
patristic period. God, on the other hand, would be the outer
or kami are the same as brahman. And yet they are not totally
and active aspect of the same mystery. Be this as it may, how-
unrelated. Can we affirm that all those names refer to deity
ever, we will use the word deity, in distinction to godhead,
as a broad category? Is deity perhaps the common name for
to mean not just God’s essence (as in Thomas Aquinas) or
God, the godhead, the divine, brahman, mana, and so forth?
the “God beyond God” or the ground of God (as in Eck-
To begin with, it must be stressed that brahman and
hart), but simply that divine dimension elusively present ev-
God, for instance, are not the same. The one is passive and
erywhere, which only our highest thinking performance can
does not need to care, it is at the bottom of everything and
glimpse and which is the goal of our existential human quest.
is the very condition of possibility for all that there is. The
Deity, then, not only may denote God or gods as sub-
other is active and provident; it is above everything, personal,
stantial beings but also may be used as a generic name con-
the creator of all that is. But they are not so different as to
noting all those forces, energies, entities, ideas, powers, and
make the translation of the one by the other totally inaccu-
the like that come from “above” or “beyond” the human
rate. The Christian Scholastics, while affirming the ineffabil-
realm. In this sense deity represents the element of reality that
ity of divine names, did not deny that some names are more
belongs neither to the material world nor to the merely
applicable than others. We shall call brahman and God ho-
human realm but is above or beyond the sensible and intel-
meomorphic equivalents, because they perform correspond-
lectual order. Deity may thus stand for one of the three di-
ing yet different functions in their respective systems.
mensions of reality that practically all human traditions re-
veal. First, there is the realm of heaven: the gods, the
It is tempting to use the word deity as an abstract noun
superhuman powers, the supraintelligible. Then there is the
for all such homeomorphic equivalents. Deity would then
realm of the human: consciousness, ethics, life, mind, the in-
refer to God, kami, brahman, Zeus, Rudra, Tien, the Dao,
telligible, and so forth. And finally, the realm of the earth:
El, Baal, Urðr, Re, Ka¯l¯ı, and so on. This enterprise is relative-
the cosmic, the material, the spatiotemporal reality, the sen-
ly simple as long as we remain within more or less homolo-
sible, and so on.
gous cultures, making it easier to find common properties
like infinity, omniscience, goodness, immutability, omnipo-
We cannot proceed further in the study of the human
tence, simplicity, unity, and so on. But when we attempt to
approach to deity until we examine the nature of the “thing”
include such properties as futurity, nothingness, or illusion,
we are trying to investigate. It is irrelevant now whether the
we find that these attributes are not at all common and are
world of deity is the paradigm of the human world, in which
incompatible with the previous ones. In point of fact there
case the latter would be only a shadow of the real, or whether
is no common structure other than the purely formal one of
on the other hand the divine universe is only a projection of
being a vague something different from and perhaps superior
the unfulfilled desires of humans. The fact remains that the
to human beings, and sometimes only apparently so. Deity
human experience crystallized in language witnesses to the
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existence of such a divine world, be it populated by daimones
It belongs to a second moment of human reflection to try
or by theoi, by devas, elohim, spirits of all types, the one God,
to put order into that world, to assign to it its degree of reali-
or by nobody. Have we a common name to designate that
ty, to decide what kind of hierarchy reigns there, and to elu-
universe? Can we say that this is the world of deity? For this
cidate the relationship of that world with the human world
we need a historical interlude.
and the rest of the universe. One does not prove the existence
of deity in a primordial civilization. The gods are simply
Historical background. How have human beings come
to the notion of deity? For some scholars this notion has been
the result of an inference of some type of causal thinking.
THE STRUCTURE OF DEITY. Historical investigation is only
Deity is then a supreme being or beings, of a celestial or other
a part of the question about deity. How people have come
type. The human question about the origin of life, the world,
to this idea is less important than the structure of the idea
and the like triggers the search for a cause that then will be
itself. This structure is not an “objective” datum, however.
“located” in whatever place appears to be more appropriate
It is in part a function of human interest. We have here an
for the dwelling of a supreme being or beings, whether in the
example of how any human enterprise is motivated and con-
heavens or in the earth. Others would see the origin of deity
ditioned by human interests and prevailing myth. Because
not so much in the intellectual quest as in the existential anx-
deity has no detectable referent outside human conscious-
iety of the human being facing the elemental mysteries of life
ness, its structure depends in part on one’s opinions about
and nature. Still others have seen the search for deity as based
it and on those of any human consciousness for which the
neither on causal thinking, nor on anxious feeling, but on
notion makes sense. In other words, what deity is is insepara-
simple awareness.
ble from what people have believed it to be.
For others deity is the disclosure of a supreme being
We must try then to make sense of the ideas and experi-
through its own initiative, which explains why man has come
ences humankind has had on the subject. For this we must
to the idea of deity. If such a supreme being exists, even if
attempt to understand the context in which the problem has
its “revelation” is progressive and related to the intellectual
been put. This leads us to distinguish between the methods
development of the peoples concerned, it is always from that
that can be employed to elucidate the question and the hori-
power that the first step comes.
zons within which the problem of deity is set. The main
methods are theological, anthropological, and philosophical.
Contemporary discussions are the aftermath of that
These methods are all interrelated, and distinguishing them
great controversy of past decades about the origin of the idea
is really a question of emphasis. The possible horizons of the
of God, a controversy that resulted from the conflict of the
problem consist of the presuppositions that we make about
emerging theory of evolution with traditional beliefs in God.
what we are looking for when we set about asking about deity
Wilhelm Schmidt (1868–1954), rejecting the evolutionary
and its origins. Horizons are a function of our universe and
scheme, searched for traces of a primitive revelation of a “pri-
of the myths we live by. I shall distinguish three such hori-
mordial monotheism” among primitive peoples. Schmidt
zons. Combining these with the methods just mentioned
was elaborating the insights of Andrew Lang (1844–1912),
would give nine different sets of notions about deity. Brevity
who had argued for the existence of a belief in supreme be-
requires, however, that I do not develop these nine represen-
ings among archaic peoples, in opposition to the then perva-
tations of the divine. I will describe only the three fundamen-
sive theory of primitive animism, represented by E. B. Tylor
tal horizons that predetermine the question of deity.
(1832–1917). Finally, atheistic movements—scientific, dia-
lectical, or historical—will make of deity a superfluous hy-
Horizons. In order to understand what kind of deity
pothesis, an artificial tool for the subjection of humans, an
we are talking about, it is essential to reflect on the horizon
undue extrapolation of our present ignorance, a mere illusion
of the question. Is the deity to be conceived as absolute con-
to console us in the midst of our impotencies.
sciousness? As a supreme being? As the perfect, ideal individ-
ual? Or as the creator of the world? In short, where do we
It seems fair to say that the most universal, primordial
situate the divine? Where is the locus of deity? The horizons
human experience is neither monotheistic, nonatheistic, nor
are, of course, dependent on the culture of any given time
polytheistic but rather a deep-rooted belief in a divine world,
or place. Viewed structurally, however, the function of deity
a world populated by different kinds of superhuman beings
always seems to provide an ultimate point of reference. We
or forces. Whether those beings are one or many, whether
may situate this point outside the universe or at its center,
they represent a polytheistic hierarchy or an Urmonotheismus,
in the depths of man (in his mind or heart), or simply no-
is not the most important point. What is most important is
where. Cosmology, anthropology, and ontology offer us the
that these beliefs express a human experience that says that
three main horizons.
man is not alone in the universe and that the sensible world
is not all there is to reality. This is made clear not only by
Metacosmological. The human being in ancient times
innumerable oral traditions and written texts in nearly every
lived facing the world. The main concern was the universe
culture but also by the existence of a veritable jungle of
as a human habitat. Humanity’s vision is directed toward
names for the divine. All human languages have an enormous
things in heaven and on earth. The horizon of deity is pre-
treasure of words denoting the super- or extrahuman realm.
cisely this universe, but not just as one thing among others.
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The locus is metacosmological. Deity is here related to the
from his often painful limitations. Modern theologies of lib-
world. Certainly, it may be identified as immanent to
eration belong here, as does the notion of a god acting in
the world, or more probably transcendent to it, but deity is
the deity of the world, and the world is the deity’s world.
Meta-ontological. We are told that the culmination of
What type of function or functions deity is supposed to per-
man’s development is self-awareness. The power of reflection
form and what kind of relation it has with the world are left
makes Homo sapiens the superior being that he believes him-
to the different cosmologies and traditions. In any case, deity
self to be. The locus of the deity here cannot be just a super-
is a kind of pole to the world, a prime mover that sets the
man or a ground of the world. It has to be a superbeing. The
world into motion, sustains it, directs it, and even creates it.
locus is meta-ontological.
A temporal metaphor can be used to say the same thing. In
this case, the deity is represented as the beginning, present
Humanity is proud of the human power of abstraction.
before the big bang, or at the end of the evolution of the
Deity is here not only beyond the physical world but also
physical universe, as the omega point. Or the deity may be
outside any natural realm, including that of the human
both alpha and omega, at the beginning and at the end of
world, the intellect, the desires, and the will. Deity is totally
the universe. The most common name for this deity is
above and beyond nature, including human nature. The
“God,” whether this be Varun:a, “supreme lord, ruling the
transcendence or otherness of deity is here so absolute that
spheres” (R:gveda 1.25.20), or Yahveh who “made heaven and
it transcends itself, and thus it can no longer be called tran-
earth” (Gn. 1:1). This God is “that from which truly all be-
scendence. Deity does not exist; it is meta-ontological, be-
ings are born, by which when born they live, and into which
yond being. It is not even nonbeing. The apophatism is abso-
they all return” (Taittir¯ıya Upanis:ad 3.1). This God is the
lute. The deity neither is nor exists, nor is it thinkable or
pantokrato¯r of many traditions, Eastern and Western. Even
speakable. Silence is the only proper attitude toward it, not
the deus otiosus belongs to this group. Deity is here a metacos-
because we are incapable of speaking about it, but because
mological category. Its most salient feature is its infinity. The
silence is what befits it. This silence neither hides nor reveals.
world we experience is contingent, and all things are tran-
It is silence because it says nothing, there being nothing to
sient, finite. Only the deity is infinite.
say. Possible names for this deity are ´su¯nyata¯, Neither Being
nor Nonbeing, Huperon, and so on. Deity is here a meta-
Meta-anthropological. At a certain moment in history
ontological reality. Seen from below, as it were, it belongs
the main interest of humanity was no longer nature or the
to the unthinkable. Seen from within, it belongs to the un-
world outside, above and mysterious, but humanity itself.
thought. To think about it would be idolatry.
Humanity’s visions were directed toward the inner recesses
of the human spirit: the feelings, the mind. The locus of
Here we encounter the problem of the nothingness of
deity is here the human realm, but not just a human field
deity, the radical apophatism developed in many traditions.
made wider. It has to be deeper as well. The locus is meta-
The most salient feature here is immanence and transcen-
dence, the two belonging together. Deity is the immanence
and transcendence inserted in the heart of every being.
Here deity is seen as the symbol for the perfection of
the human being. The notion of deity does not come so
We should hasten to add that these three horizons are
much as the fruit of reflection on the cosmos or as an experi-
not mutually exclusive. Many a thinker in many a tradition
ence of its numinous character as it does from anthropologi-
has tried to elaborate a conception of deity embracing all
cal self-awareness. Deity is the fullness of the human heart,
three. Within Hinduism, for instance, nirgun:a brahman
the real destiny of man, the leader of the people, the beloved
would correspond to the third type, sagun:a brahman to the
of the mystics, the lord of history, the full realization of what
first, and ¯ı´svara might be the personal deity of the devotee.
we really are. This deity does not need to be anthropomor-
Similarly, the Christian Scholastic tradition would like to
phic, although it may present some such traits. Deity is here
combine God, the prime mover (the first type), with the per-
a¯tman-brahman, the fully divinized man, the Christ, the
sonal God of the believers (the second type), and that of the
purus:a, or even the symbol of justice, peace, and a happy so-
mystics (the third type). How far all three can be reduced to
ciety. Here deity may be considered immanent or tran-
an intelligible unity is a philosophical and theological prob-
scendent, identified with or distinguishable from man, but
lem that different traditions try to solve in different ways.
its functions are related to the human being. It is a living,
The morphological traits of deity may be summarized
loving, or menacing deity, inspiring, caring, punishing, re-
according to these three horizons, suggesting a threefold
warding, and forgiving. In this deity all pilgrimage ends, all
structure for deity. The ultimate experience of the meta-
longing disappears, all thoughts recoil, and all sin is blotted
ontological deity is the character of the “I.” Deity is the ulti-
out. The deity is a meta-anthropological category.
mate “I,” the final subject of activity. “Who am I?” The “I”
who can respond to this question without further question-
The vexed problem of divine personality belongs here,
ing is the ultimate “I,” the deity.
as do psychological analyses of human belief in deity. The
most salient feature of this horizon, however, is the attribute
The meta-anthropological deity represents the experi-
of freedom. The deity is here freedom itself, liberating man
ence of the “thou.” In the human urge toward the deity this
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latter appears as the ultimate “thou” with whom dialogue
These methods are not mutually exclusive, and all three
and human relations can be established.
play a role in the human quest for deity. All are required and
they imply each other. We distinguish between them for
The deity as the ultimate cause and prime mover of the
heuristic reasons only. Each one presents divisions and sub-
world is the “he, she, or it” that only an inference discloses.
divisions. Sociology, psychology, anthropology, and so forth
One speaks of this deity always in the third person.
are among the important disciplines within these three ap-
Methods. We may now turn to the different methods
proaches, each with its own particular methods.
used in the attempt to understand deity. Whatever deity may
We refer to methods in the plural, for there is not one
be, it is neither a sensible nor an intelligible thing. The deity
single theological, phenomenological, or philosophical
is neither a visible thing nor a mere thought. Modern herme-
method. Each of these approaches presents a variety of meth-
neutics speaks of “pre-understanding” as a necessary condi-
ods. What we describe here is only a general pattern of meth-
tion of understanding, of a “hermeneutical circle” that is
ods, which acquire a proper physiognomy when applied to
needed in all interpretation. Within the realm of sensible or
particular cases.
intelligible objects we may be able to ascertain what pre-
Theological. The theological method begins with an ac-
understanding is. We acquire an idea of the whole, which we
cepted datum: there exists a world of the gods, the world of
may modify while investigating the parts. It is on the basis
deity. We will therefore have to clarify and eventually justify
of this pre-understanding that a given method is applied to
the raison d’être of such a world, but we do not necessarily
understanding an object. But how can this be done in the
have to prove its existence. In short, the origin of the idea
case of deity? If every method implies a proleptic jump into
of deity is the deity itself—whatever this deity may be. This
the alleged object, a coming back to our starting point, and
forms the core of the so-called ontological argument and of
a methodical process afterward, it is difficult to see how such
any religious enterprise that wants to clarify the nature of
a method can be applied in our attempt to understand deity.
deity. Deity could not be known if it did not exist. The theo-
We do not know in which direction we should make the first
logical problem here consists of determining what kind of ex-
jump nor with what instruments to approach it—unless we
istence this is. When Thomas Aquinas, for instance, ends
start from the received tradition or with an authentic mysti-
each one of his five proofs for the existence of God by saying
cal experience. This amounts to saying that we renounce
“and that is what all call God,” he shows his theological
finding a method of searching for deity and replace it by
method of clarifying the existence of something that we al-
methods of research, interpreting the opinions of people
ready call God. The deity was already there, certainly, as an
about it. We know, further, that if we start with some “in-
idea, but also as a reality that hardly anyone doubted, al-
struments,” the results will greatly depend on the nature of
though its rationality had to be demonstrated and its exis-
those instruments. We can then neither jump (if we do not
tence verified as real and not merely apparent. Theological
know the direction) nor come back (if the subject matter is
proofs thus presuppose faith and only prove that such faith
beyond the senses and the intellect). In a word, the method
is rational. They are a form of fides quaerens intellectum
for seeking the deity is sui generis—if indeed there is a meth-
(“faith seeking understanding”).
od at all.
We have already indicated that each combination of
How do we come to a pre-understanding of deity? We
method and horizon yields a distinct picture of deity. In fact,
may receive it from tradition. In the case of a direct mystical
theological methods have been mainly combined with the
experience there is not a pre-understanding but an immedi-
cosmological and the ontological horizons. They have been
ate insight that the mystic afterward explicates in terms of
less conversant with the anthropological one, and this ex-
the culture in which he or she lives, and so ultimately it
plains the uneasiness in theological circles when dealing with
comes to the same thing. The mystic needs a post-
the emerging sciences of man, like psychology and sociology.
understanding, as it were, in terms of his or her time and cul-
The theological dialogues with Freud, Jung, and Weber are
ture, which amounts to an initial pre-understanding for all
typical examples. There are serious studies on the psychology
the others. The pre-understanding of deity is, therefore, a
and sociology of religion, but little attention has been given
traditional datum. Now, there are three main attitudes to-
to the psychology and sociology of deity from a theological
ward this datum. If one accepts it as a starting point and pro-
perspective. Hans Urs von Balthasar’s work on a theology of
ceeds to a critical effort at understanding it, this is the theo-
aesthetics is a notable exception.
logical method. The theologian tries to clarify something from
Phenomenological. The phenomenological method
within. If one tries to bracket one’s personal beliefs and at-
could also be described as morphological, or even historical,
tempts to decipher the immense variety of opinions through-
since it is used in the new science of religions, often called
out the ages regarding the idea of deity, this is the phenome-
the history of religions. On the whole there is a consensus
nological method. The datum is then the sediment of the
regarding the phenomenological method, as the study of
history of human consciousness. Finally, if one reflects on
people’s beliefs drawn from their own self-understanding, as
one’s own experience, enriched as much as possible by the
reflected in the critical consciousness of the scholar. Here is
thoughts of others, this is the philosophical method.
the place for a typology of the conceptions of deity. This
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method is important today, in a world in which people of
Is deity the highest being or is it being as such? In the latter
different religions mingle in the concerns of daily life, that
case it cannot be a supreme being. The ontological difference
is, in the stresses of technological civilization.
is not the theological one. The history of religions puts the
same question by simply asking how the supreme being is
Use of the phenomenological method uncovers an im-
related to the entire reality. This polarity between being and
mense variety of types of deity. We find the so-called animis-
supreme being permeates most of the conceptions about
tic conception of deity as an all-pervading and living force
deity. We could phrase it as the polarity between the deity
animating everything that there is. We find so-called poly-
of the intellectuals (being) and the deity of the people (su-
theism, the presence of many “gods” as supernatural entities
preme being). A more academic way of saying it is this: deity
with different powers and functions. We find so-called deism
may appear as a result of a thinking reflection (discovering
as the belief in a supreme being, probably a creator, who is
being) or an existential attitude (requiring a supreme being).
afterward passive in relation to his creation, a notion that ex-
For the former, deity is the subsisting being, source of being,
cludes any kind of specially revealed god. We find monothe-
the foundation, the being “being” in all beings. For the latter,
ism of the type of the Abrahamic religions, religions of a liv-
deity is the supreme being, the lord, the divine person, the
ing, provident, and creator god. We find the various theisms
ultimate in the pyramid of reality. The former conception
that modify the exclusiveness of the monotheistic model, and
will have to clarify the relation between deity as a ground of
pantheism, the identification of the deity with the universe.
being and an undetermined and general ens commune. The
We also find all sorts of atheisms, as reactions to theism and
latter will have to define the relation between deity as esse sub-
especially to monotheism. And of course we find a number
sistens and the rest of beings that the deity creates, rules, and
of distinctions and qualifications of these broad notions that
are intended to respond to the demands of reason or answer
difficulties raised by particular or collective experiences.
Is deity being (Sein, sat, esse) or the supreme being (höch-
These types, and the changes that they have undergone
stes Seiendes, paramatman, ens realissimum)? One can think
through the ages, have been the subject of many useful and
about the first, but one cannot worship it. One can adore
comprehensive studies by well-known scholars like Mircea
the second and trust in it, but this God cannot be reasoned
Eliade, Gerardus van der Leeuw, Geo Widengren, Kurt Gol-
about; it is corroded by thinking.
dammer, W. Bede Kristensen, and Friedrich Heiler. With
If the philosophical locus of the deity is the ultimate
the possible exception of Widengren, none of these authors
question, we may find as many conceptions of deity as there
uses the notion of God as a major religious category. Even
are ultimate questions. Thus the many and varied answers.
Widengren, who emphatically wants to distinguish religion
The diversity of religions can also be explained from this per-
from magic, while affirming that “faith in God constitutes
spective. Religions give different answers to ultimate ques-
the intimate essence of religion,” has a very large idea of what
tions, and the questions themselves are different. But philo-
God means. All the others recognize that there is a particular
sophical reflection may ask still further: what is it that
sphere that is at the center of religious life.
prompts man to ask the ultimate question, whatever this
Philosophical. The philosophical method proceeds dif-
question may be? Why is man an asking being, ever thirsty
ferently, although, in ways, not totally disconnected from
for questions?
those of the previous ones. Pascal’s famous mémorial, which
In a word, the issue of the deity has to do with the pecu-
was found stitched in his coat after his death, “The God of
liarity of man as a questioning animal. “God acts without a
Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, not of philoso-
why and does not know any why,” says Meister Eckhart.
phers and scholars,” has since served in the West to empha-
What prompts man to question is ultimately the conscious-
size this difference. Without entering into the discussion of
ness of not being realized, of not knowing, of being finite.
whether the “living God” is the actus purus or whether one
This consciousness can be expressed as the anthropological
can fall in love with the prime mover, the quintessence of
discovery that man is imperfect, still in the making; the cos-
the philosophical method consists in the willingness to ques-
mological observation that the universe is moving, that is,
tion everything. The philosophical method is that of the rad-
also still becoming; or the ontological thought of nothing-
ical question, be it the question of salvation, moks:a, happi-
ness lurking over being. In sum, the problem of becoming
ness, or whatever form in which it may be conceived. It is
emerges here as the theological problem par excellence. If be-
within this framework that the question of deity appears.
coming is possible, it is because being is still “being.” What
Here in a cloud either of knowledge or of unknowing, in a
covers this gap between being and becoming (encompassing
science of good and evil, lies the philosophical locus of deity.
or not encompassing the two) is the locus of the deity: it
This locus is the ultimate question, even if there is no final
keeps open the flow of being.
When this ultimate locus is considered to be being, the
different perspectives on the human approach to deity that
question of deity turns out to be what Heidegger calls an
we have found end in a healthy pluralism: reality is itself plu-
“onto-theology,” a reflection on the being of beings. Here,
ralistic. We cannot, of course, encompass this plurality in a
the philosophical method meets the historical controversy.
unified scheme of intelligibility on a universal scale. Yet if
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we keep in mind our particular situation in time and place
vation, nor can there be a science of the divine. Thus Meister
and its various viewpoints and prejudices, we may venture
Eckhart says that we must transcend not only the things of
some further valid considerations.
the imagination but even those of the understanding.
Our point of departure is the lost innocence of our pres-
Long before S´an˙kara, the Indian world made crucial the
ent situation. Whatever deity may be, whatever peoples of
distinction between appearance and reality and recognized
other epochs have felt, thought, or believed about deity, even
that the latter transcends both the senses and the mind. The
if they have told us that it was the deity itself who spoke to
short Kena Upsanis:ad is perhaps one of the best scriptural
them, it remains always the conviction of contemporary man
texts to underline the transcendence and immanence of the
that all relation to deity takes place in and through human
consciousness. This in no way weakens the reality or the ob-
That which cannot be expressed by words but by which
jectivity of deity. It only affirms that human consciousness
the word is expressed . . . That which cannot be
is always a fellow traveler in this journey. If we want to reach
thought by the mind, but that by which, they say, the
a consensus regarding the many opinions on the nature of
mind is thought . . . That which cannot be seen by the
deity, we shall have to fall back upon the texture of our con-
eye, but that by which the eyes have sight. . . . It is not
sciousness, even while accepting that deity may be much
understood by those who understand; it is understood
more than an act or content of consciousness and that this
by those who do not understand. (1.5ff, 2.3)
consciousness may vary with time and place and even be
In sum, of the divine there is only logos (“word”): theologia.
shaped by the power of deity.
But it is a logos irreducible to nous; that is, it is a word only
In view of the many opinions about deity we have to
revealed in the experience itself. This does not allow us to
rely upon the one factor that is common to them all, namely
conclude that the divine is just a subjective state of experi-
the human consciousness that uses the word deity or its ho-
ence. All things are related to states of experience, but of all
meomorphic equivalents. Deity has this one constitutive fea-
others we have a communicable referent; we can get at the
ture: it is disclosed to us in an act of consciousness, an act
res nominis, that is, at the thing named. This is not the case
of consciousness that, in spite of having a transcendent inten-
with the divine. The res nominis is in the ratio nominis, that
tionality, has no verifiable referent outside of consciousness.
is, in the meaning of the name itself. And this is what has
The reference of the word deity, in fact, is neither visible nor
made theological and religious disputes so uncompromising-
intelligible, and yet every culture in the world witnesses to
ly serious. The names of God are all we have. Considering
the fact that men constantly speak about a “something” that
names as mere labels of things (as in nominalism) is the prop-
transcends all other parameters. We have then to rely on the
er procedure of modern science, but this method is not ade-
cultural documents of the past and the present that witness
quate if applied to deity. Without the names we have no way
to this tertium we call deity.
of reaching the referent.
We rely on the fact that people have meant something
The names of deity are also different from abstract
when using this word or its equivalents. The analysis of deity
names like justice and beauty. We may infer the meaning of
is based therefore not on the empirical presence of the object
justice by observing a certain pattern of behavior among peo-
nor on the immediate evidence of thought but on tradition
ple and acquire some sense of beauty by contrasting some of
in its precise and etymological meaning, that is, on some cul-
our experiences with similar ones of other people. Both
tural good that is being transmitted to us. One exception
human behavior and sensible objects fall in the category of
seems to be the case of mystics, who say that they have direct-
commonly shared experiences. In other words, the referent
ly experienced this extra-empirical and supra-intellectual re-
in all these cases is verifiable outside of consciousness al-
ality. Yet the moment that the mystics speak they have to fall
though not independent of it. This is not the case with deity.
back upon their consciousness. The thought and speech of
We cannot verify it as an object outside the field of our own
the divine belong to that unique field of human conscious-
consciousness, nor can we compare our states of conscious-
ness whose contents are disclosed in the very experience that
ness as we can in the case of other abstract concepts. In this
has them and nowhere else. This explains the elusive charac-
latter case we can point to the things or acts reflecting, reveal-
ter of the divine and also accounts for the fact that the ques-
ing, or somehow defining the meaning we give to such
tion is more important than the answer.
words. In the case of deity we can certainly infer the idea peo-
ple have of it from what they say and do, but there is one
Deity is visible only in its alleged manifestations—and
difference: a dimension of transcendence, of ineffability, in-
there is no way to make visible the manifesting power be-
adequacy, ultimacy, or uniqueness, which necessarily leaves
yond what is manifested. Nicholas of Cusa says pointedly
a gap between the manifested and its source. This is the rea-
that God is the invisibility of the visible world, just as the
son why some traditions have postulated a special “seventh”
world is the appearance of the invisible God.
sense related to the divine, which is neither reducible to the
five senses nor to the “sixth” sense of the intellect.
Nor is deity intelligible. It would cease to be divine if
we could grasp its meaning as something belonging to the
Now, to affirm that all the names of deity mean ulti-
human or worldly sphere. The divine is not subject to obser-
mately the same thing assumes at the start that “our” name
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is the real one. We make of our conception of it, expressed
is built into human nature. But we often fail to recognize that
in the name we give it, the pattern for all other conceptions.
we cannot make a claim for universality in our own terms,
The name we give it would then name the “thing” that is
which are far from being universal.
supposed to have other names as well. This is not the case.
Meaningful talk about the divine is thus restricted to
Not everybody is looking for the same thing, either the ulti-
those belonging to the same mythical sphere. Others will
mate cause, the ground of being, or absolute nothingness, if
hear but not really understand. Each culture or subculture
any of these is what we mean by deity. Much less are the wor-
has a myth in which their particular form of the divine is pos-
shipers of Ka¯l¯ı ready to give up their practice and worship
sible and talked about. In this sense it cannot be generalized.
Alla¯h, or true Christians ready to deny Christ and adore Cae-
It is restricted to those of the same faith, to the initiated.
sar. Deity is not a Kantian “thing in itself.” Words matter.
Properly speaking, we do not know what we are talking
The conception we have of deity is certainly not identical
about when we refer to the divine. We are already taking it
with its reality. But it is our way of access to it, which we
for granted, which is the function of any myth, that is, to
cannot deny without betraying ourselves. Martyrdom for
offer the unquestioned horizon of intelligibility where our
the sake of a name is a human fact not reducible to sheer fa-
words are meaningful.
And yet the world of deity is an ever-recurrent world in
The name we give it, or the name anyone else gives it,
the history of mankind. What do all these traditions refer to?
does not exhaust the nature of deity. Strictly speaking we do
If asked, believers might answer that the divine is not just
not name it. We only refer to him, her, or it. Or we simply
a purely subjective state of consciousness; most will assert
believe, call, pray, shout, dance, or whatever. Deity is not an
that they refer to the highest realm of reality, a realm so high
object of naming but of invocation. Deity is what we appeal
that it is beyond the reach of human powers. And yet they
to, implore, and worship precisely because it is beyond our
continue to speak of it. It belongs to their myth. The myth
apprehending faculties.
is the locus of belief. It is only when pressed by those outside
In the Greek tradition theos is a predicative name.
their group that they concede that there is no possibility of
Things are divine, and a particular entity is godly. Theos is
showing any referent in the world of common human experi-
an attribute. God is not a concept but a name. But when the
ence. At most they may point to an homeomorphic experi-
name loses its power no amount of conceptualization can
ence if they have found a language of communication.
give it back.
What is, then, the content of such an experience of
There has been a shift in the idea of deity from the pred-
deity? We have said that the content of the experience is in-
icate to the subject. This is a great revolution. In the West
separable from the experience itself, so that it cannot be
this could be said to represent the genius of the Abrahamic
“shown” outside the experience: the divine is neither sensible
traditions. While many traditions say that light, love, or
nor intelligible. Is there something else? Common sense and
goodness is God, that is, divine (“Truth is God” was a slogan
historical evidence say that of course there is something else,
of Mohandas Gandhi), the New Testament reverses the sen-
since everybody seems to speak about the divine in one form
tence and affirms that God is light, love, or goodness. Some-
or another. The critical mind will say that it makes no sense
thing similar could be said of the great Upanisadic revolu-
to speak about something that we cannot think. That is why
tion: in the Upanis:ads we witness the passage of the god of
many a philosopher feels more comfortable calling the con-
the third person (the Vedic gods) to the god of the first per-
tent of that experience nothingness. All theology ends by
son (aham brahman, “I am brahman”) by means of the sec-
being apophatic.
ond person (tat tvam asi, “that thou art”). The revelation of
From these considerations we may infer that there is
the “I” dawns in the very realization of the aspirant to libera-
something in human consciousness that points to something
tion; the “I” is not a third person (he, she, it, or even they).
beyond, and yet we are unable to “locate” it outside that con-
The language of the deity cannot be the third person. The
sciousness. God has been described as a “transcending center
deity has to be the first person. It is only the real “I” when
of intention” (John E. Smith). No wonder that many think-
it says “I,” or rather when “I” says “I,” and more exactly when
ers in both the East and West then identify deity with con-
I say “I.” This is what is called realization—the realization
sciousness in its highest form. Others defend a sort of tran-
of the I (by the I). Only the I can say “I.”
scendental dynamism of human consciousness toward a
superior and perfect form of consciousness, which they then
At any rate the divine is so linked to our state of con-
call divine. Still others affirm that it is only a pathological
sciousness that there is no way of deciding what ontic status
growth of our own consciousness, triggered perhaps by fear
it has outside the ontological statement. Or, rather, the deity
of the unknown or fostered by religious priestcraft for the
has no ontic status. An ontological statement has an accepted
sake of power. Finally, while recognizing both the divine im-
currency only with people who share in the same myth, one
manence of human consciousness and the human intention-
in which a particular form of the divine is taken for granted.
ality toward a divine transcendent consciousness, some do
The claim to universality is the temptation of any com-
not dare to consider deity as the all-encompassing reality but
plex and sophisticated culture. This aspiration to universality
only as a dimension of it. Reality is primary to consciousness.
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Consciousness is always consciousness of, of reality, of being,
other hand, deity does not denote merely a character of
even of itself. This last is the no¯esis no¯eseo¯s of Aristotle, the
things, as does the word sacred. Deity is a source of action,
absolute reflection of Hegel, and the svayampraka¯´sa (“self-
an active element, a spontaneous factor: it is free. Its actions
illumination”) of Veda¯nta. Now pure consciousness cannot
cannot be anticipated; it has initiative. We cannot deal with
be of anything, not even of itself. This is what lets Veda¯nta
deity as with an object that we can imprison in the web of
say that brahman is not even conscious of being brahman.
our thoughts. Deity has a mysterious quality of being able
It is ¯I´svara, the Lord, who is the full consciousness of brah-
to act and not just react, to take the lead, even if in a purely
man. Something similar could be said of the Father, the
passive way.
plenitudo fontalis of the Christian Trinity.
We should distinguish between personality and person
on the one hand and person and substance on the other. We
to present the problematic of deity in its broadest aspect, we
may recall that the concept of person in the West was devel-
may ask whether speaking of “the divine” is not preferable
oped not as a meditation on man but as a theological prob-
to speaking of “deity.” It may better describe what we are
lem. To speak of the personality of deity is no more an an-
looking for, namely a super- or metacategory that can serve
thropomorphism than is speaking of God as a supreme
to express the religious phenomenon in its universality. In
being, which some would call an anthropomorphism simply
fact, deity, because its grammatical form is substantive, sug-
because man is also a being. Here the polemical aspect of the
gests a certain kind of substantialization that is inappropriate
notion of deity comes to the fore. Almost everyone will admit
for many religious traditions, which we could call the
that there is a third dimension in reality, since man and the
na¯stika¯s or ana¯tmava¯dins (such as the Buddhists who say that
world, as they are experienced by us, do not exhaust that
there is no God because there is no substance). Thus, in spite
other pole that is neither man nor the world as we experience
of some modern efforts at adaptation, the Buddhist world,
them now. But not everyone is prepared to admit that this
for one, feels uncomfortable with the word deity—although
third pole has personality, that is, that it is endowed with
not, of course, with deities.
freedom, is a source of action, has an identity, and is relation-
There is another category of similar generality that has
often been presented as the center of the religious traditions
In this sense, the concept of deity is not just the idea
of humankind. Every religion, we are told, deals with the sa-
that there is a third pole in reality. Nor is it identical with
cred. It was Nathan Söderblom who, in 1913, described the
the concept of God. It stands between the sacred and God.
notion of holiness as even more essential than the notion of
It shares with the former its immanence and with the latter
God. For Söderblom, there is no real religion without a dis-
its personality (in the sense we have indicated). But while the
tinction between the holy and the profane. Mircea Eliade is
concept of God seems to imply a certain substance, the idea
today the most important spokesman for the centrality of the
of deity does not need to present this characteristic. It says
sacred as the religious phenomenon par excellence. But, we
only that this third dimension is not a mere mental hypothe-
may ask, if the sacred is the central category of religion, what
sis, a piece of mental equipment necessary for making sense
is the place and role of deity?
of reality or merely something to fill in the gaps in our under-
There is a danger in wanting to reduce the immense jun-
standing. The notion of deity affirms boldly that this other
gle of man’s religious experience, as crystallized in the differ-
dimension is real, that is, active, free, efficacious, and power-
ent religions of the world, to a single category or even to a
ful on its own account. But it does not make it independent
single set of categories. Even if this were possible, its only
of the two other poles and thus not even independent of our
purpose would be to give a panoramic and coherent picture
conceptions of it. In a word, deity connotes the highest form
of the whole. But what cannot be universalized is precisely
of life.
the perspective of the observer. Let us assume that the sacred
CONCLUSION. This cross-cultural approach to the mystery
is a convincing category for understanding and describing re-
of deity has one liberating consequence. It liberates us from
ligious phenomena. It would still be true that it is only a suit-
the many aporias that, for centuries, have tortured the
able category for us—that is, a very special class of readers
human mind as it attempts to consider God as the supreme
in time and space. If our parameters of understanding
being. Among these are the questions: is it personal or imper-
change, then the perspective must also vary. In short, we can-
sonal? If almighty, how can it condone evil? If infinite, what
not universalize our perspective, and a “global perspective”
is the place of finite beings? If absolutely free, why can it not
is obviously a contradiction in terms. There is thus room for
make two and two equal five? If omniscient, what about
more than one attempt to focus the religious experience of
human freedom? Subtle theological and philosophical an-
man. Let me try then to point out the locus of deity in the
swers have been put forward. But the answers could be made
panorama of human religious experience and distinguish it
simpler by cutting the Gordian knot of a universal theory
from the sacred.
about God and rediscovering the divine as a true dimension
of reality.
One feature seems to permeate all the varied meanings
of deity: personality. Deity does not need to be a substance
Whether the word deity means a plurality of divine be-
nor a person in the modern sense of the word. But on the
ings, absolute consciousness, perfect happiness, the supreme
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

being, a divine character of beings, or being as such, thought
ities are intrinsically related, and their relation does not lie
about deity has no referent. At the same time it seems to be
on the level of the logos but on the level of the mythos, as we
one of the most unvarying and powerful factors in human
have suggested. All our ways and means, all our quests and
life throughout ages and across cultures. Words referring to
perspectives already belong not only to the searching but also
deity or its homeomorphic equivalents are unique. Philoso-
to what is sought. Deity is not independent of our own
phy avers that the intentionality of human consciousness,
search for it. If we radically destroy all the ways to the peak,
while pointing outside itself, cannot show in the realm of the
the entire mountain will collapse. The slopes of the moun-
sensible or the intelligible the referent of this intentional act.
tain also make the mountain.
In a word, there is no object that is deity. Either human con-
Scholars may debate whether humankind is or is not
sciousness transcends itself, or thought about deity is an illu-
monotheistic, whether a personal god is a universal truth or
sion, albeit a transcendental illusion of historical reality.
there actually is a creator, whether the so-called atheists are
We should return now to one of our earlier queries. Is
right in denouncing anthropomorphisms and dogmatisms of
the word deity broad enough to include all the types of the
all sorts, whether there is a divine origin of this universe or
mystery we have tried to describe? We know that its original
a glorious or catastrophical Parousia. One thing seems to
field is the cosmological, but we have also noted that we dis-
emerge as a cultural universal and a historical invariant: be-
tinguish it from the name God precisely to allow it other ho-
sides the world and man there is a third pole, a hidden di-
mension, another element that has received and is still receiv-
ing the most varied names, each name being a witness of its
The word deity may partially fulfill this role on one es-
power and of the impotence of human beings to reduce ev-
sential condition: that it strip itself of all connotations com-
erything to a common denominator.
ing from a single group of civilizations. This amounts to say-
ing that it cannot have any specific content, because any
The human being both individually and as a species is
attribute, be it being, nonbeing, goodness, creatorship, fa-
not alone. Man is not alone not only because he has an earth
therhood, or whatever, is meaningful only within a given cul-
under his feet but also because he has a heaven above his
tural universe (or a group of them). Deity becomes then an
head. There is something else, something more than what
empty symbol to which different cultures attribute different
meets the eye or comes into the range of the mental. There
concrete qualifications, positive or negative. Deity would
is something more, a plus that humans cannot adequately
then say something only when translated into a particular
name but that haunts them nevertheless. This plus is free-
dom and infinity. Deity stands for all that is unfinished (in-
finite) and thus allows for fulfillment in one sense or another.
I am still critical of such an option, however, and would
Man needs—and discovers—an opening, a way out of the
like to propose a compromise that may appear obvious once
strictures of the exclusively empirical or ideological affairs of
explained. Were this article to be translated into Chinese, Ar-
daily life. The idea of deity can provide such an opening,
abic, or Swahili, what word would we use to convey this idea
provided that it can be kept free of any particular content.
of deity? Either we would coin a new name or use an old one
It would then become a symbol for the emerging myth of
with the connotations of the particular language. So we can
a human race that can no longer afford to transform cultural
say that for the English language deity may be a convenient
discrepancies into a cosmic tragedy.
name to use to transcend the provincial limits of certain
groups of cultures such as the one that thinks, for instance,
SEE ALSO Anthropomorphism; Evolution, article on Evolu-
that Buddhism was not a religion and Confucianism only a
tionism; God; Gods and Goddesses; Otherworld; Sacred
philosophy because they do not accept the Abrahamic idea
and the Profane, The; Study of Religion; S´u¯nyam and
of God. But we should not elevate the word deity as the name
S´u¯nyata¯; Theism; Theology; Transcendence and Imma-
for that metacategory. It is only a pointer toward the last ho-
nence; Truth.
rizon of human consciousness and the utmost limit of
human powers of thinking, imagining, and being. Now, an
abstract name like the Ultimate or a metaphor like horizon
Balthasar, Hans Urs von. Herrlichkeit. Einsiedeln, 1961. A treat-
are equally dependent on particular cultural systems or ways
ment of the topic from the perspective of a theology of aes-
of thinking. Perhaps the word mystery is more adequate, in
spite of its Hellenic flavor. Or should we say brahman, kami,
Balthasar, Hans Urs von. Theodramatik. Einsiedeln, 1978.
Castelli, Enrico, ed. L’analyse du langage théologique: Le nom de
At any rate we should insist that this does not mean that
Dieu. Paris, 1969. Offers a philosophical perspective.
all those quests search for the same thing but in different
Eliade, Mircea. A History of Religious Ideas, vol. l, From the Stone
places. The quest is different in each case, and so are the ways
Age to the Eleusinian Mysteries. Chicago, 1978.
or methods involved. We leave open the question (ultimately
Gilson, Étienne. God and Philosophy. New Haven, 1941.
as a pseudo-question) whether we use different methods be-
Heidegger, Martin. Holzwege. Frankfurt, 1950. Offers distinc-
cause we look for different things or whether we find differ-
tions between concepts of God, deity, the sacred, and sal-
ent answers because we use different methods. Both possibil-
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

James, E. O. The Concept of Deity. London, 1950. A historical
son of the Old Testament scholar Franz Delitzsch (1813–
1890). Both were men of extremely high linguistic ability,
Kumarappa, Bharatan. The Hindu Conception of the Deity as Cul-
but in other respects they formed a striking contrast. The fa-
minating in Ra¯ma¯nuja. London, 1934.
ther was pious and conservative in theology, and although
Owen, H. P. Concepts of Deity. New York, 1971.
he was interested in Christian missions to the Jews, he was
Panikkar, Raimundo. The Unknown Christ of Hinduism. Rev. &
warmly appreciative of Judaism; the son became iconoclastic
enl. ed. New York, 1981. See pages 97–155.
and contemptuous toward traditional doctrine and hostile to
Panikkar, Raimundo. Il silenzio di Dio: La risposta del Buddha.
the entire dependence of Christianity upon Judaism.
Rome, 1985. An analysis of the Buddhist idea of the empti-
ness of deity.
The leading figure in the Assyriology of his time, Frie-
Pettazzoni, Raffaele. “The Supreme Being: Phenomenological
drich Delitzsch placed grammar and lexicography of the lan-
Structure and Historical Development.” In The History of Re-
guages of ancient Mesopotamia on a sound and exact basis.
ligions: Essays in Methodology, edited by Mircea Eliade and Jo-
In the area of biblical scholarship, his Die Lese- und Schreibfe-
seph M. Kitagawa. Chicago, 1959.
hler im Alten Testament (1920) provided an exhaustive classi-
Pöll, Wilhelm. Das religiöse Erlebnis und seine Strukturen. Munich,
fication of ways in which copying errors, such as writing one
1974. See the chapter titled “Der göttlich-heilige Pol.” A
consonant in place of another, may have affected the text of
positive analysis of the divine/sacred from a psychological
the Hebrew Bible. His main influence on religious studies
came with the “Babel-Bible” controversy. Advances in Assyr-
Schmidt, Wilhelm. Der Ursprung der Gottesidee: Eine historisch-
iology had already made a difference to scholarship but had
kritische und positive Studie. 12 vols. Munster, 1912–1955.
hardly affected the general public. Delitzsch’s two lectures
A response to the evolutionary hypothesis concerning the
“Babel und Bibel” were delivered, in 1902, before the Ger-
concept of deity.
man Oriental Society and were attended by Kaiser Wilhelm
New Sources
II, who took an active interest in these matters. In the past,
Benard, Elisabeth, and Beverly Moon, eds. Goddesses Who Rule.
the Bible had been considered the oldest book: it was be-
New York, 2000.
lieved to reach back to the beginnings of the world. Now As-
Lang, Bernhard. The Hebrew God: Portrait of an Ancient Deity.
syriology presented new knowledge, knowledge that went
New Haven, 2002.
back to an epoch much earlier than that of which the Bible
Leeming, David, and Jake Page. God: Myths of the Male Divine.
had known. The similarity between the Babylonian and the
New York, 1996.
biblical worlds was enormous. But this meant that the Old
Maxwell, T. S. The Gods of Asia: Image, Text, and Meaning. Ox-
Testament material was not unique and could not count as
ford, 1997.
pure revelation. The Babylonian material confirmed the an-
Miles, Jack. God: A Biography. New York, 1995.
tiquity of the biblical material but put in question its finality.
Smith, Mark S. The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other
In fact the Old Testament rose little above the religious and
Deities in Ancient Israel. San Francisco, 1990.
ethical level of Mesopotamian civilization.
Stark, Rodney. One True God: Historical Consequences of Monothe-
ism. Princeton, N.J., 2003.
By relativizing the authority of many elements within
Stroud, Joanne, ed. The Olympians: Ancient Deities as Archetypes.
the Bible, the new discoveries made room for a conception
New York, 1996.
of religion that was more in accord with “reason.” Delitzsch
Wilkinson, Richard. The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient
insisted on the spiritual and universal nature of God as dis-
Egypt. London, 2003.
cerned, he thought, by the German Reformation. In this
light, what Delitzsch considered the limited, parochial, and
Revised Bibliography
sometimes immoral world of the Old Testament could not
continue to have authority. These ideas met with a storm of
opposition. In his later work Die grosse Täuschung (The great
deception; 1921), Delitzsch continued in the same vein but
became more extreme. The Old Testament was a collection
of fragments which had some literary and cultural value but
had no relevance for Christianity. Christianity had as close
a relation to paganism, Delitzsch claimed, as it had to Juda-
ism, and he emphasized to an almost hysterical degree the
“defects,” “inaccuracies,” and “immoralities” of the Old Tes-
Delitzsch was facing real problems in the existence of
common ground between the Bible and its antecedent reli-
gious environment and of religious differences between some
DELITZSCH, FRIEDRICH (1850–1922), German
strata of the Bible and others. But the controversial stand he
Assyriologist. Friedrich Conrad Gerhard Delitzsch was the
took was rooted more in modern ideological conflicts than
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

in a dispassionate study of the ancient religions. His use of
For the next thirteen years Deloria was involved in Indi-
ancient evidence was often exaggerated and distorted, as
an education. She taught at All Saints from 1915 to 1919,
when he argued that Jesus, being a Galilean, was not of Jew-
worked for the YMCA supervising health education in Indi-
ish blood and when he asserted that Jesus’ teaching was
an schools from 1919 to 1923, then taught dance and physi-
“anti-Jewish.” Similarly, Delitzsch’s conception of Christian-
cal education at Haskell Indian school in Lawrence, Kansas.
ity draws from only a very narrow strand in the Christian tra-
In 1927 Boas, finally learning Deloria’s whereabouts, visited
dition. As history of religion, his assessment of the data was
her to propose that she resume the Lakota language studies
intemperate, and his outbursts had the effect of retarding
that she had begun with him in New York. She readily
rather than advancing the cool assessment of the problems
agreed. He proposed that she record “all the details of every-
that Assyriological discovery had created for the relationship
day life as well as of religious attitudes and habits of thought
between Bible and religion.
of the people” (Boas quoted in Deloria, 1988,
pp. 235–236). From 1928 until 1938, with support from
Columbia University, Deloria studied the language, re-
Delitzsch’s controversial lectures were published in German as
corded stories and ethnographic material from Lakota elders
two books under the same title, Babel und Bibel (Leipzig,
throughout South Dakota, and translated historical texts
1902–1903); the English edition, Babel and Bible (Chicago,
written by tribal members. From 1939 until 1948 she con-
1903), contains not only the lectures but a selection from the
tinued to work as time allowed on the materials she had col-
comments they engendered, including those of Kaiser Wil-
helm II and of Adolf von Harnack, along with replies by De-
litzsch. Die grosse Täuschung (Stuttgart, 1921) appears never
Deloria’s collaboration with Boas himself culminated in
to have been published in English.
a grammar of Lakota (Boas and Deloria, 1941). However,
New Sources
most of her studies were carried out under the supervision
Arnold, Bill T., and David B. Weisberg. “A Centennial Review
of Ruth Benedict, a cultural anthropologist who was Boas’s
of Friedrich Delitzsch’s ‘Babel und Bibel’ lectures.” Journal
assistant and colleague. After Boas’s death in 1942, Deloria
of Biblical Literature 121, no. 3 (Fall 2002): 441–457.
continued to collaborate with Benedict until the latter’s
Larsen, Mogens Trolle. “The ‘Babel/Bible’ Controversy and its
death in 1948.
Aftermath.” In Civilizations of the Ancient Near East, vol 1.
New York, 1995.
One of the first projects Deloria undertook for Boas was
the translation of a native language text on the Sun Dance,
Revised Bibliography
the most important traditional Lakota religious ceremony.
A long and detailed account, it had been written in the early
1900s by George Sword, a religious leader among the Oglala
DELORIA, ELLA CARA (1889–1971). Ella Cara De-
Lakotas on the Pine Ridge Reservation in southwestern
loria was born January 31, 1889, on the Yankton Sioux Indi-
South Dakota. Deloria read the text aloud to an Oglala elder
an Reservation in southeastern South Dakota. She was the
and with his guidance edited and retranscribed it. The text,
daughter of the Reverend Philip Deloria, an Episcopal priest,
printed in both Lakota and English, was her first professional
and Mary Sully Bordeaux. Her parents were enrolled mem-
publication (Deloria, 1929).
bers of the Yankton Sioux tribe, and both were descended
As a member of a prominent Episcopal family, Deloria
from Dakota (Sioux) and Euro-American ancestors. The year
had little familiarity with traditional Lakota religion, but she
after Ella’s birth, her father was given charge of St. Eliza-
became very interested in it. She recorded a large number of
beth’s Mission in north-central South Dakota, on the Stand-
myths and sacred stories, many of which have been published
ing Rock Reservation. Because his parishioners and the chil-
in Lakota and English (Deloria, 1932; Rice, 1992, 1993,
dren attending the mission school were primarily Hunkpapa
1994). While recording autobiographical texts from elders
and Blackfoot Tetons (Lakotas), the Deloria family adopted
she learned a good deal about the individual’s role in reli-
the l dialect of the Tetons in place of the d dialect of the
gious ceremonies, visions and other supernatural experiences,
Yanktons. Therefore, Deloria, although a Yankton, grew up
and conflicts between traditional religion and Christianity.
speaking the Lakota dialect of the Sioux language.
Benedict pressed her to interview medicine men and record
Deloria’s primary schooling was at St. Elizabeth’s until
their visions, but this forced Deloria into a personal dilem-
1902, when she attended All Saints, an Episcopal boarding
ma. Her father was a prominent missionary, and her younger
school in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. In 1910 she entered
brother, Vine V. Deloria, had followed in his footsteps and
Oberlin College, then transferred to Columbia Teachers
begun his career as a missionary at Pine Ridge. Showing
College in 1913, where, two years later, she earned her bach-
undue interest in traditional religion jeopardized the family’s
elor of science degree. During her senior year at Columbia
reputation, and, in any case, traditional religious leaders were
Teachers she met Franz Boas, professor of anthropology at
not comfortable sharing their sacred knowledge with a de-
Columbia University, who introduced her to the formal
vout Christian, who might ridicule them. Deloria focused in-
study of American Indian languages and cultures, thereby
stead on the forms of ceremonies, starting with the Sun
setting in motion the course of much of the rest of her life.
Dance. She hypothesized that all the Sioux groups shared
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

common ceremonies but that each performed them in differ-
Murray, Janette K. “Ella Deloria: A Biographical Sketch and Lit-
ent ways. She worked for years on a study that would docu-
erary Analysis.” Ph.D. diss., University of North Dakota,
ment the variations from group to group, but failed to com-
plete it.
Rice, Julian. Deer Women and Elk Men: The Lakota Narratives of
Ella Deloria. Albuquerque, 1992. A literary analysis of De-
Deloria’s Speaking of Indians (1944) was intended to in-
loria’s Lakota stories and other writings.
troduce American Indians to a broad popular audience. In
it, with great insight and empathy, she succinctly summa-
Rice, Julian. Ella Deloria’s Iron Hawk. Albuquerque, 1993. A bi-
lingual presentation and literary analysis of a long, previously
rized her understanding of traditional religion. She consid-
unpublished sacred story recorded by Deloria.
ered the Lakotas before they had learned of Christian teach-
ings to be naturally religious, “always subconsciously aware
Rice, Julian. Ella Deloria’s The Buffalo People. Albuquerque, 1994.
of the Supernatural Power. Before it they felt helpless and
A bilingual presentation and literary analysis of five previous-
ly unpublished stories recorded by Deloria.
humble” (Deloria, 1944, p. 51). She exemplified this with
an account of the Sun Dance, making the esoteric ritual
comprehensible to the general public.
The concern with communicating to the public moti-
vated Deloria to write an ethnographic novel, Waterlily, that
DELPHI. The Delphic oracle was the most important or-
told the story of three generations of women before the reser-
acle of ancient Greece. Archaeological excavations at Delphi
vation period. It masterfully summarizes the important
have shown that the temple of Apollo, which was the center
themes of her study of Lakota culture and is the only written
of the oracular activities, was not built before 750 BCE. It was
source that explores the religious life of Lakota women.
a time of extensive Greek colonization, and one in which the
When she completed the book in 1948 she could not find
oracle, for obscure reasons, managed to play an important
a publisher; it was published posthumously (Deloria, 1988)
role. This activity may well have been the decisive factor in
and rapidly became the most widely read of her works.
establishing Delphi almost immediately as an authoritative
After Benedict’s death in 1948 Deloria struggled to con-
oracle, and Homer’s Iliad, most commonly dated to the
tinue her work and received a number of grants for studies
eighth century BCE, already mentions the wealth of its votive
of religion and social life. From 1955 to 1958 she returned
offerings. Its geographical location, far from powerful Greek
to St. Elizabeth’s Mission to run the school she had attended
city-states, undoubtedly helped its rise to fame; for none of
as a girl. A grant for work on a Lakota dictionary provided
the consulting states had to fear that its rich presents would
her a position at the University of South Dakota from 1962
foster the development of a rival state. On the other hand,
to 1966. After retiring, she continued to live in Vermillion,
Delphi was not so remotely situated as the oracle of Dodona
South Dakota, until her death on February 12, 1971.
(in northwestern Greece), its older rival. The Delphic ora-
cle’s fame was highest in the Archaic period, when even kings
Deloria was the most prolific native scholar of the La-
from Lydia and Cyrene came for consultation.
kotas, and the results of her work (much of which is still un-
published, archived in the American Philosophical Society
Earlier studies went so far as to stress the role of Delphi
Library, Philadelphia, and the Dakota Indian Foundation,
in supporting new moral and religious values such as requir-
Chamberlain, South Dakota) are an essential source for the
ing purification following a murder, but the evidence for
study of Lakota religion.
such Delphic initiatives is actually very slight. It is indeed
hard to see why Delphi, unlike all other oracles, should try
SEE ALSO Lakota Religious Traditions; North American In-
to influence its clients beyond their immediate needs. The
dians, article on Indians of the Plains.
famous sayings “Nothing in excess” and “Know thyself,”
which in the sixth century were fitted into the wall of the
Delphic temple, reflect existing ideas rather than new ones.
Boas, Franz, and Ella C. Deloria. “Dakota Grammar.” Memoirs
Both sayings exhort man to remain within his human lim-
of the National Academy of Sciences 23, no. 2. Washington,
its—a common idea in Archaic Greek literature. It seems
D.C., 1941. The standard reference grammar of Lakota.
therefore more likely that the oracle, through its central posi-
Deloria, Ella C. “Dakota Texts.” Publications of the American Eth-
tion in Greek society, functioned as a sounding board that
nological Society, vol. 14. New York, 1932. Comprises sixty-
could amplify current religious conceptions and preoccupa-
three Lakota stories (and one in Dakota) printed in the origi-
nal as recorded by Deloria with word-by-word and free En-
glish translations.
The ritual of consulting the oracle was relatively simple.
Deloria, Ella C. Speaking of Indians. New York, 1944. Deloria’s
After making various sacrifices, consultants of the oracle had
popular introduction to American Indians, including a suc-
to enter the temple of Apollo where they presented their
cinct and insightful summary of Lakota culture.
questions, orally or written on a tablet, to the priestess of
Deloria, Ella C. Waterlily. Lincoln, Neb., 1988. An ethnographic
Apollo, the Pythia. She was an older woman, whose age
novel focusing on three generations of Lakota women. Con-
made it socially acceptable for her to mix in the company of
tains a biographical sketch of the author by Agnes Picotte
men such as priests and ambassadors. At the same time, she
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

was dressed as a girl; the conception of the Pythia as the bride
see L. Maurizio, “Anthropology and Spirit Possession: A Re-
of Apollo was at least hinted at in Delphic mythology. The
consideration of the Pythia’s Role at Delphi,” Journal of Hel-
priestess made her utterances seated on a tripod and holding
lenic Studies 115 (1995): 69–86 and “Delphic Oracles as
a spray of laurel, but unfortunately we are not informed
Oral Performances: Authenticity and Historical Evidence”,
about the exact process whereby she arrived at her oracles.
Classical Antiquity 16 (1997): 308–34. R. C. T. Parker’s
Later reports, both ancient and modern, mention prophetic
“Greek States and Greek Oracles,” in R. Buxton, (ed.), Ox-
ford Readings in Greek Religion
(Oxford, 2000), pp. 76–108
vapors emerging from a chasm below the priestess, but this
analyses the questions Greek states posed and the answers
has been disproved by modern archaeological findings. Such
they received.
reports were evidently rationalizing explanations of the Pyth-
ia’s skill in giving oracles. Her voice was supposed to change
JAN N. BREMMER (1987 AND 2005)
when she responded to the inquiries, which seems to indicate
an altered state of consciousness. At the “séance,” special
“prophets” were present who translated the Pythia’s utter-
ances into acceptable prose or hexameters. It is not known
to what extent the consultants could influence the outcome
of the oracle, but it seems clear that the opinion of powerful
clients was regularly taken into consideration. The grateful
DE MARTINO, ERNESTO. An ethnologist and his-
consultants dedicated votive offerings to the god, and in the
torian of religions, Ernesto de Martino (1908–1965) was
highly competitive Greek society the exhibition of these of-
born on December 1, 1908, in Naples, Italy, where he stud-
ferings encouraged a kind of potlatch in dedications: at the
ied under Adolfo Omodeo, graduating with a degree in phi-
end of the fifth century, there were nearly thirty special
losophy in 1932. His degree thesis, subsequently published,
buildings in which Greek cities displayed their dedications.
dealt with the historical and philological problem of the El-
Many of the inquiries and the oracle’s corresponding
eusinian Gephyrismi (ritual injuries addressed to the goddess)
answers have been preserved, although a number of these an-
and provides an important methodological introduction to
swers are demonstrably forgeries—products of hindsight.
the concept of religion. Clearly influenced by reading Das
Greek cities as well as individuals sought the oracle’s advice
Heilige by Rudolf Otto, de Martino preferred to emphasize
on a wide range of religious, political, and private matters.
the choleric nature of the believer, overturning the German
The evidence shows that in general the oracle helped to de-
scholar’s thesis and making it capable of being applied to re-
cide between various alternatives rather than to predict the
lations with gods in polytheistic religions and spirits in ani-
future; recourse to the oracle must often have been a conve-
mist religions. Attracted by the ideological stance of the re-
nient way of avoiding the risk of being blamed for the wrong
gime, for several years de Martino worked on an essay
interpreting Fascism as a historically convenient form of civil
religion. However, the attempt was insubstantial and the
Delphi’s prestige remained high until the fourth century
work, still unpublished, was gradually rejected by the author.
BCE, when it was looted and, perhaps more fatal, when Alex-
At this time, which we now call the “Neapolitan” period,
ander the Great moved the center of the Greek world to the
lasting until 1935, de Martino fell under the spell of the per-
East. The rulers of the warring factions after Alexander’s
sonality and work of an archaeologist who was particularly
death (c. 323 BCE) had no time for embassies to Delphi. Al-
open-minded concerning the ancient history of religions and
though on a much lower level, the oracle continued func-
who was disliked by both the regime and its intellectual op-
tioning in Roman times when the prolific author Plutarch
ponents: Vittorio Macchioro, known for his Orphic inter-
(c. 45–120 CE) was one of its priests; his two treatises The
pretation of the frescoes in the Villa of Mysteries in Pompeii
Oracles at Delphi No Longer Given in Verse and The Obsoles-
and advocate of a theory of religion understood essentially
cence of Oracles are a mine of information on Delphi’s rich
as experience.
mythology and ritual. In the fourth century CE, Delphi still
attracted the attention of Roman emperors, but the prohibi-
De Martino moved to Bari, where he became a history
tion of all pagan cults in 392 by the Christian emperor Theo-
and philosophy teacher at a regio liceo. He almost immediate-
dosius I also meant the end of this age-old institution.
ly had the opportunity to become part of the philosopher
Benedetto Croce’s circle and to move in an anti-regime envi-
SEE ALSO Oracles.
ronment. He slowly distanced himself from Fascism com-
pletely, so that in 1941 he was one of the founders of the
Liberal Socialist Party. Meanwhile, he had singled out reli-
gious ethnology as his main subject of study and edited the
The best survey of the history of the oracle, together with a collec-
tion of all the extant oracles, is H. W. Parke and D. E. W.
essays that made up his first book (Naturalismo e storicismo
Wormell’s The Delphic Oracle, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1956). The
nell’etnologia, printed in the 1940s by Laterza) and formed
oracles are translated and discussed, if in a sometimes too
the basis of the research that would in time develop into his
skeptical way, by Joseph Fontenrose in The Delphic Oracle
most famous work, Il mondo magico. In the first book, which
(Berkeley, 1978). For recent, revisionary studies of the oracle
is primarily methodological, de Martino set out an idealistic
E N C Y C L O P E D I A O F R E L I G I O N , S E C O N D E D I T I O N

theory of ethnology, perhaps in a negative rather than