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Zavidovskaia E., Rud P. Popular Religion in Early Republican China Based on Vasilii Alekseev’s Materials from to the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography RAS (fund No. 2054) // Written Monuments of the Orient. Vol. 6, No. 2(12), 2020. P. 3—21.

One of the founding fathers of Russian sinology Vasiliy Mikhailovich Alekseev (1881–1951) had acquired an impressive collection during his ethnographic expedition to the southern regions of China (May 4 — August 19, 1912), which was organized by the Russian Committee for Middle and East Asia Exploration and initiated by the Committee`s head, founder academician Vasilii Vasilievich Radlov (1837–1918). Alekseev’s expedition stated from Vladivostok and passed through Harbin, Shanghai, Ningbo, Putuoshan, Fuzhou, Xiamen, Shantou, Guangzhou and ended up in Hong Kong. Alekseev has collected about 1083 artifacts making up “a collection exclusively on popular Buddhist and Daoist religion, items of household usage, daily life and cult, as well as revolutionary leaflets and posters of 1912”, now this collection is kept at the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography of the Russian Academy of Sciences (MAE, RAS) with registration No. 2054. During his earlier studies in China in 1906–1909 Alekseev acquired large collections of ethnographic materials and folk art (mainly popular woodblock prints nianhua 年畫) from the northern regions of China, which had later for the most part entered collections of the State Hermitage and the State Museum of the History of Religion (GMIR) in St. Petersburg. For his expedition of 1912 Alekseev had lined out a plan based on his observations of northern religious practices, e.g. he was particularly interested in the worship of City God chenghuang, child giving goddesses niangniang and God of Wealth caishen, but he quickly realized how different was the southern religious terrain and focused on local specifics.
This paper discusses a large portion of printed ritual texts used for religious purposes in Fujian and Guangdong provinces and dated by the early 20th c. Our survey of several dozens of printed materials from fund No. 2054 reveals prevalence of documents used by ritual specialists — Daoists for funerary rituals and ancestor worship, funeral various types of talismans occupy a central place. Apparently, the form and content of these texts have been preserved in the local religious practice up to present days.

To WMO, vol. 6, No. 2(12)...


The entire paper


Alekseev, Vasily
Daoist ritual documents
the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography
salvation rituals

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