Cover of The Lady of Linshui by Brigitte Baptandier, Translated by Kristin Ingrid Fryklund
The Lady of Linshui
A Chinese Female Cult
Brigitte Baptandier, Translated by Kristin Ingrid Fryklund

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2008
392 pages.
$67.50

Cloth ISBN: 9780804746663

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This anthropological study examines the cult of the Chinese goddess Chen Jinggu, divine protector of women and children. The cult of the "Lady of Linshui" began in the province of Fujian on the southeastern coast of China during the eleventh century and remains vital in present-day Taiwan. Skilled in Daoist practices, Chen Jinggu's rituals of exorcism and shamanism mobilize physiological alchemy in the service of human and natural fertility. Through her fieldwork at the Linshuima temple in Tainan (Taiwan) and her analysis of the narrative and symbolic aspects of legends surrounding the Lady of Linshui, Baptandier provides new insights into Chinese representations of the feminine and the role of women in popular religion.

About the author

Brigitte Baptandier is Director of Research at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), in the Laboratoire d'ethnologie et de Sociologie comparative, at Université Paris X, Nanterre, where she teaches Chinese anthropology. She also teaches at the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (INALCO) in Paris.

"In the study of Chinese religion, there are very few books that concentrate so intensively on a single goddess . . . This book, therefore, enriches our understanding of Chinese religion, and I recommend it to readers interested in religious studies, anthropology, and gender studies."

—Wei-Ping Lin, Journal of Religious

"It is in the dense texture of Baptandier's work and her refusal to flatten categories of religious behavior, gender, or morality that I see its greatest contribution to scholarship on Chinese religion. In terms of the study of practice the work has much to offer those just entering graduate studies in Anthropology and should be required reading for anyone considering fieldwork in the Chinese cultural sphere . . . I recommend Brigitte Baptandier's The Lady of Linshui for its rich collection of mythological and ritual material and discussion of lived religious practices."

—Alison R. Marshall, Journal of Chinese Religion

"This work, and expanded translation of the author's La Dame-du-bord-de-l'eau, is an important addition to exploration of Chinese religion and local history through the study of cults . . . Baptandier's authority as an ethnographers of Chinese religion is impressive and her familiarity with relevant Daoist sources is unmatched."

—Donald S. Sutton, American Historical Review

"This book is the fruit of the author's research of many years. It is indispensable reading for anyone interested in Chinese religion, gender studies, ritual studies, and the rise and development of local cults. The book has an extensive bibliography and a helpful index . . . We should be grateful for this book which opens up new avenues for future research in so many interesting areas concerning Chinese goddesses and their cults."

Études Chinoises

"The female side of Chinese religion looms so large, but has actually received very little attention from scholars. Baptandier boldly weaves a remarkable range of anthropological and sinological sources in this rich, multi-layered text, further advancing our understanding of women in Chinese society while revealing the full potential of meanings inherent in this cult to a woman."

—Robert Weller, Boston University

"[A]n anthropological account of a little-known cult, embedded in a rich description of its historical texts . . . The book's originality is in both the material and the way in which the author has made a complex of legends and surviving rituals available to an audience that will include all those interested in anthropology, healing, religion, and gender studies at undergraduate level and above . . . the first book, certainly in English, to provide in-depth insight into the role of women in Chinese religion."

China Quarterly

"[A] powerful, brilliantly presented, and immensely rich exploration of the myth of the goddess, combined with an effective examination of roles, practices, and symbolic connections in traditional China. The Lady of Linshui is a worthy heir to the myth studies of the great pioneers."

Journal of Interdisciplinary History