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

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9780199844906: Sanctity and Self-Inflicted Violence in Chinese Religions, 1500-1700
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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 cultural expectations. 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. This book is 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.

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About the Author:


Jimmy Yu is the Sheng Yen Assistant Professor of Chinese Buddhist Studies at Florida State University and a grant committee advisor of the Sheng Yen Education Foundation Grant for Ph.D. Dissertation Research on Modern Chinese Buddhism. He teaches courses in East Asian religious traditions, specializing in Chinese Buddhism and late imperial Chinese cultural history.

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"Violence towards the self was a powerful statement, but also a common religious practice in pre-modern China. People wrote in blood or cut off pieces of their flesh as medicine. Women mutilated themselves or even committed suicide to preserve their chastity and others did the same for rain. This exceedingly rich book provides elaborate contextual analysis, treating the subject with respect and without any reductionism."
--Barend ter Haar, author of Telling Stories: Witchcraft and Scapegoating in Chinese History


"Jimmy Yu has produced a remarkable study of a range of extreme body practices (blood writing, auto-cremation, slicing the thigh, etc.) performed by a diverse set of historical actors in sixteenth and seventeenth-century China-Buddhist monastics, literati, Daoists, shamans, widows, and children. By placing these practices in conversation with each other, he offers important theoretical insights for scholars of religion, as well as for historians of late-imperial China."
--James A. Benn, author of Burning for the Buddha: Self-immolation in Chinese Buddhism


"...[T]his book brings rich data and analysis to the study of religion and culture in China, and its lucid and comprehensive narration makes it well suited to specialists, non-specialists, and graduate students." --Religious Studies Review


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9780199844883: Sanctity and Self-Inflicted Violence in Chinese Religions, 1500-1700

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ISBN 10:  0199844887 ISBN 13:  9780199844883
Publisher: Oxford University Press, 2012
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Book Description Condition: New. Oxford University Press, 2012. 288p. Paperback. this is an important and original study that should be widely read by students of Chinese culture and society. Wilt L. Idema, Comptes Rendus 07/11/2013 (Publisher's information). Condition: New. Seller Inventory # 42211

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