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A Case Study on the Evolution of Chinese Religious Symbols from Talismanic Paraphernalia to Taoist Liturgy

Abstract : The mid-fifteenth-century Taoist Canon (Zhengtong daozang 正統道藏) contains five specimens of a religious artefact called “Great Peace Symbol” (“Taiping fu” 太平符), dispersed between five texts spanning about a millennium. The introduction to this paper discusses the meaning of the Chinese word fu 符 and its most widely used English rendition, “talisman”. The article briefly presents the source of each specimen, attempts a deconstruction of its morphology, and analyses its modus operandi, thus providing a basic methodological model to outline the historical evolution of the category of “fu” artefacts from early medieval portable devices endowed with specific apotropaic functions – like charms and amulets – to multipurpose ritual implements designed for use within the framework of early modern Taoist liturgy. The epilogue introduces a sixth specimen, differently named but morphologically and functionally related to the latest three “Great Peace Symbols”.
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https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-01385139
Contributor : Grégoire Espesset Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Tuesday, December 7, 2021 - 4:54:54 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, December 9, 2021 - 3:09:18 AM

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Grégoire Espesset. A Case Study on the Evolution of Chinese Religious Symbols from Talismanic Paraphernalia to Taoist Liturgy. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, Cambridge University Press (CUP), 2015, 78 (3), pp.493-514. ⟨10.1017/S0041977X15000439⟩. ⟨halshs-01385139⟩

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