[Dukh ushel; dukh ostalsia: o sovremennom sostoianii traditsionnykh predstavlenii kitaitsev ob umershem cheloveke]
Type of publication: Research Article
China, Chinese animism, spirit, soul, burial structures, hún, pò
The article discusses the perceptions that the Chinese have about a person’s psyche during the person’s lifetime and after his or her death. It attempts to place these perceptions within the context of broader cosmogonic ideas and notions of the spirits existing in the Chinese culture. I examine the major concepts and assumptions that lie in the foundation of such ideas and notions and focus on the most important attributes of the spirit (duality, materiality, cyclicity) which let us better understand the Chinese way of thinking about the dead and means of communicating with them. I try to show the relevance of this issue by demonstrating the ways in which it is reflected in contemporary developments in Chinese material culture, and burial structures in particular. Drawing on my own field research, I analyze various elements of the burial structures, including memorial arches, epitaphs on tombstones, decorations, and altars dedicated to the deities associated with afterlife. I argue that the perceptions of life and death among the Chinese remain strongly traditional, which sets the Chinese notions of the spirit apart from the Christian understanding of the soul that is prevalent in the European culture.
This research was supported by the following institutions and grants:
Russian Science Foundation, https://doi.org/10.13039/501100006769 [grant no. 18-18-00082]
Zakurdaev, A.A. 2019. Dukh ushel; dukh ostalsia: o sovremennom sostoianii traditsionnykh predstavlenii kitaitsev ob umershem cheloveke [The Spirit Left; Yet the Spirit Stayed: On the Present State of Chinese’s Traditional Notions of the Dead]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 1: 27-41. https://doi.org/10.31857/S086954150004178-5
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