Bibliography Reading List: Benzhu Religion

The worship of Benzhu, local protector spirits, is a characteristic of the Bai people.

Yunnan Folk Literature Collection Office:


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A collection of Bai mythological stories.

大理市 文化局 (Dali City Culture Bureau ):


Bai Benzhu religion legends.

黄杰华 (Huang Jiehua):

汉藏宝鬘: 护法大黑天(Mahākāla)信仰研究


PhD thesis on 大黑天 in Buddhism in Yunnan.

李一夫 (Li Yifu):


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Early collection of Benzhu names and their related stories in many areas.

李政业 (Li Zhengye):


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A detailed analysis of Bai Benzhu cult, classifying it as a religion with deep roots in agricultural practice.

吕大吉 (Lv Daji):

中国各民族原始宗教资料集成: 彝族卷·白族卷·基诺族卷


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A most comprehensive collection of ancient rituals in China and their meaning. This volume covers the Jinuo, Yi and Bai minorities in Yunnan.

饶峻姝 (Rao Junshu) and 杨荣彬 (Yang Rongbin):


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Dali Bai Nationality Benzhu Religion with particular focus on temple decoration.

杨恒灿 (Yang Hengcan):


A detailed collection of Benzhu, the Bai protector deities, arranged according to the type of Benzhu: from nature worship over legendary figures, Nanzhao and Dali kingdom personalities all the way to the Chinese republican era.

Lots of details about the Benzhu background and their relationships, but some of the dates for Benzhu festivals seem to be a little unreliable. 

杨恒灿 (Yang Hengcan):


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Descriptions of the history of many Benzhu, but unfortunately many of these stories are anecdotal and do not reflect the actual historic roots. 

杨宪典 (Yang Xiandian):


Abstract: 摘要:<正> 一、白族巫教的内幕和活动情况白族的巫教的巫师是世代相传的。男巫叫“神汉”或叫“巫公”,女的叫“巫婆”或叫“女巫”。巫人的家里都有“家堂”或叫“香堂”。家堂设有神案,案前摆着一个香盆,每天都在香盆里面烧化香火纸钱和“甲马纸(子)”,有香堂的巫师,地位比较高一些,称为“香堂主”。据说“香堂主”都有一对专门供他驱使的阴司童子,每天所烧的纸钱和甲马都是供这对童子使用的。

杨跃雄 (Yang Yuexiong) and 杨德爱 (Yang Deai):

龙王的嬗变: 白族水神信仰体系的人类学透视


Bai Dragon King worship

杨政业 (Yang Zhengye):


Collection of articles about Dali religion (Benzhu, Christianity, Daoism) by the author.

张春继 (Zhang Chunji):


Research into exorcism amongst the Bai in Jianchuan.

张文璞 (Zhang Wenpu):

本主文化: 大理人的感恩情怀


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A comprehensive listing of Benzhu temples and the related festivals in the Dali Erhai region.

张锡禄 (Zhang Xilu):


Research into early believe of the Bai people.

张锡禄 (Zhang Xilu):


A collection of articles written by Zhang Xilu on historic aspects of Bai culture.

张云霞 (Zhang Yunxia):


Introduction to the Benzhu worship in the Wase region. 

张云霞 (Zhang Yunxia):


Detailed description of the activities during the "Receiving the Aunt" activity in Xizhou.

张云霞 (Zhang Yunxia):

金姑的背影: 大理绕三灵的历史人类学研究


Investigation into the historical roots of some Bai festivals.

Remaking social boundaries: The construction of benzhu worship in Southwest China

The construction of benzhu worship in Southwest China

Abstract: In the historical transformation of the state, benzhu worship in the Erhai lake basin, northwest Yunnan, an esoteric Buddhist practice developed in the period of Nanzhao Kingdom, has been continually reconstructed by the state and local agencies. As a result, social boundaries between the Han Chinese and the ethnic ‘others’ living in this multiethnic southwestern frontier of China have been constantly remade. This paper, through a review of the state’s interpretations and local agencies’ negotiations and contentions of the meaning and practice of the worship, is mainly intended to revisit the social and cultural consequences incurred by the transformation of the state, and highlight, among other things, how local agencies, average villagers in particular, have cautiously yet ingeniously exercised their agency since the 1950s by appropriating or recasting national and international discourses on ethnicity and diversity to serve their own ends.