Sanctity and Self-inflicted Violence in Chinese Religions, 1500-1700

ISBN : 9780199844906

Jimmy Yu
288 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
May 2012
Send mail

In this illuminating study of a vital but long overlooked aspect of Chinese religious life, Jimmy Yu reveals that in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, self-inflicted violence was an essential and sanctioned part of Chinese culture. He examines a wide range of practices, including blood writing, filial body-slicing, chastity mutilations and suicides, ritual exposure, and self-immolation, arguing that each practice was public, scripted, and a signal of certain cultural expectations. Yu shows how individuals engaged in acts of self-inflicted violence to exercise power and to affect society, by articulating moral values, reinstituting order, forging new social relations, and protecting against the threat of moral ambiguity. Self-inflicted violence was intelligible both to the person doing the act and to those who viewed and interpreted it, regardless of the various religions of the period: Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, and other religions. Self-inflicted violence as a category reveals scholarly biases that tend to marginalize or exaggerate certain phenomena in Chinese culture. Yu offers a groundbreaking contribution to scholarship on bodily practices in late imperial China, challenging preconceived ideas about analytic categories of religion, culture, and ritual in the study of Chinese religions.


List of illustrations
A Note on Dynasties and Reigns
1. A Culture in Flux: Historical Background
2. Embodying the Text through Blood Writing
3. Nourishing the Parent with One's Own Flesh
4. Chaste Widows as Entertainment and Revenants
5. Exposing and Burning the Body for Rain
6. Conclusion
Character Glossary
Abbreviations and Conventions

About the author: 

Sheng Yen Assistant Professor of Chinese Buddhist Studies at Florida State University

The price listed on this page is the recommended retail price for Japan. When a discount is applied, the discounted price is indicated as “Discount price”. Prices are subject to change without notice.