This book documents the revival of local popular religion in Putian, Fujian. Volume 1 provides a historical introduction to 153 regional ritual alliances made up of 724 villages. Volume 2 surveys the population, lineages, temples, gods, and annual rituals of these villages.
Making ingenious use of a wide variety of sources, and old as well as modern technical resources, Kenneth Dean and Zheng Zhenman here set a new standard for an histoire totale for a coherently well-defined cultural region in China.At the same time it deals in-depth with the ongoing negotiation of modernity in Chinese village rituals. Over the past thirty years, local popular religion has been revived and re-invented in the villages of the irrigated alluvial plain of Putian, Fujian, China. Volume 1 provides a historical introduction to the formation of 153 regional ritual alliances made up of 724 villages. Early popular cults, Ming lineages, Qing multi-village alliances, late Qing spirit-medium associations, 20th century state attacks on local religion, and the role of Overseas Chinese and local communities in rebuilding the temple networks are discussed. Volume 2 surveys the current population, lineages, temples, gods, and annual rituals of these villages. Maps of each ritual alliance, the distribution of major cults and lineages, are included.
Most commentators imagine contemporary China to be monolithic, atheistic, and materialist, and wholly divorced from its earlier customs, but Kenneth Dean combines evidence from historical texts and extensive fieldwork to reveal an entirely different picture. Since 1979, when the Chinese government relaxed some of its most stringent controls on religion, villagers in the isolated areas of Southeast China have maintained an "underground" effort to restore traditional rituals and local cults.