Séminaire EPHE-PSL : « Histoire du taoïsme et des religions chinoises » – Nikolas Broy : « Mother Mythologies: Xiantiandao, Sectarian Repertoires, and ‘Buddhist-Inspired’ Sects in Late Imperial China and Modern Taiwan » – lundi 23 mai 2022



Dans le cadre du séminaire de Vincent Goossaert, "Histoire du taoïsme et des religions chinoises", EPHE, PSL


Le lundi 23 mai, 15:00-16:45, salle 9 (sous-sol), MSH, 54 Bd. Raspail, Paris 6


vous êtes cordialement invité.e.s à la conférence donnée par Dr. Nikolas Broy (Leipzig University) :


“Mother Mythologies: Xiantiandao, Sectarian Repertoires, and ‘Buddhist-Inspired’ Sects in Late Imperial China and Modern Taiwan.”


"This presentation explores how sectarian groups in late imperial southeastern China and modern Taiwan shared a “sectarian repertoire,” i.e., common religious symbols, beliefs, and practices with the “Way of Former Heaven” matrix (Xiantiandao 先天道), but without being genealogically or institutionally related to it. More specifically, it focusses on the teachings and practices of the “Dragon Flower” (Longhuajiao 龍華教) and “Gold Pennant” (Jintongjiao 金幢教) sects, two religious groups that emerged in sixteenth and seventeenth-century Zhejiang and Fujian provinces and which were transmitted to Taiwan since the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Most of previous scholarship has come to conceptualize these traditions as chiefly “Buddhist-inspired,” i.e., religious communities that emulate Buddhist lifestyles and draw on “elements in lay religious life that are somehow linked to a Buddhist background” (Barend ter Haar). Likewise, scholars usually take the emic perspective of the sectarians at face value, according to which they identify as “lay Buddhists” (zaijia Fojiao 在家佛教).


This presentation takes a different route in arguing that both sects in fact draw from a much larger repertoire of religious resources that was not only shared by many sectarian groups in late imperial China more generally, but which specifically resonates with the teachings and practices of the Way of Former Heaven. By looking at distinctively sectarian texts and ritual practices, I show that the Longhua and Jintong sects resorted to the “sectarian repertoire” of the Xiantiandao matrix. This repertoire is not only often viewed as being rather “Daoist-oriented” by its employing of practices related to “internal alchemy” (neidan 內丹), but it also draws on the mythology of the omnipotent and extramundane creator deity “Eternal Venerable Mother” (Wusheng Laomu 無生老母), an apocalyptical understanding of cosmic history that centers on three consecutive stages, and a set of norms and practices that aim at helping devotees to cultivate their dormant “original selves” in order to ensure the return to the “original home” in Laomu’s paradise. By building on the work of Robert Campany and Robert Hymes on “religious repertoires” as well as David Palmer’s and Jérémy Jammes’ analysis of Vietnamese Caodaists’ “occulting of the Dao,” I further explore how outright self-advertisement as authentic lay Buddhism and affiliation with monastic Buddhist institutions since Taiwan’s Japanese colonial period (1895-1945) served similar purposes of obscuring the origins of the sectarian repertoire. Thus, this analysis aims at questioning established scholarly categorizations and assumptions about the relationship between sectarian and other religious traditions, but also about the nature of the Chinese religious landscape more generally."


Après une pause, cette conférence sera suivie par celle donnée par Prof. Kang Xiaofei (https://www.gsrl-cnrs.fr/evenement-4-conferences-de-xiaofei-kang-sur-le-theme-enchanted-revolution-religion-and-gender-politics-in-chinese-communist-propaganda/).