Other islands of Chinese history and religion

Wilkerson, James Russell, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia
Crocker, J. Christopher, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia
Metcalf, Peter, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia
Wagner, Roy, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia

A review of local histories, village manuscripts, and over a year of fieldwork is used to describe history and religion in Hunglo Village, a rural village in the P'enghu Islands. I describe three social forms. One, the harbor watch (ao-chia), was imposed by the Ch'ing dynasty, and placed the state within the center of social life in rural villages. The two indigenous social forms of the village are organized, on the one side, around the village's seven lineages (tsu), and, on the other side, around its single temple corporation (kung-ssu).

In an analysis of gift economies within the rites of the village, I find that the property relations of the temple corporation are subordinated to the property relations of the lineages, and that the status and office systems of the temple corporation and the lineages were subordinated to the census-taking and tax functions of the harbor watch. This subordination took the form of the objectification of the property relations of these social forms in exchange. The principal properties of the localized lineages are the "public" property of their neighborhoods. Each of the localized lineages has a gift economy organized around their separate ancestral worship rites performed at Winter Solstice (tung-chih). The principal "corporate" property of the temple corporation is the tidal basin. The focus of its gift economy is its rich annual calendar of village temple rites, with a large part of that ritual calendar organized around the Three Sessions (san-hui) and Three Primordials (san-y√ľan). In an analysis of sacrifice within the village temple, I find that sacrificial acts performed by the village elder (hsiang-lao), master of rites (fa-shih), and Taoist master (Tao-shih) personify and obviate the property relations of the villagers first by subordinating them in a rite within some part of the wider cosmos, and second, in so doing across the course of the ritual calendar, submitting them to the dialectical oscillation of that cosmos.

Given the extent anthropological literature on Taiwan, this study provides an alternate example of a strong state presence, well-developed lineages, and their co-existence in a well-developed cross-kin organization in the form of the temple corporation. It also shows the applicability of the classic anthropological topics of the gift and sacrifice in the analysis of Chinese religion at the community level.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Ethnology -- Taiwan -- Penghu County, Ethnology -- Taiwan -- Hunglo, Penghu County (Taiwan) -- Religious life and customs, Hunglo (Taiwan) -- Religious life and customs

Volumes 1-2

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