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Performing Myths Today: A Field Study Of The Renzu Temple Festival

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explores the myths orally transmitted in contemporary China by scrutinizing two events of telling the brother-sister marriage myth in the Renzu temple festival in Huaiyang County in central China. It tries to explore the dynamic process in which mythical texts are performed and shaped, furthermore, to investigate the reasons why myth-tellers perform myth today, and what the function of myth-telling is in their social lives. In addition, it studies orally transmitted myths in modern society. It argues that mythical texts are formed during dynamic processes of performances, in which myth-tellers practice and embody the relevant knowledge of myth tradition as they grasp it. The case study demonstrates that through performing myth, myth-tellers not only show their talents and grasp of traditional knowledge in interactions with other participants, but also express their own beliefs in human ancestors and their understanding about ethics, sciences, human origins and nature of cosmos.

Keywords: brother-sister marriage myth; China; cosmos; human origins; myth-tellers; performing myths; renzu temple festival; traditional knowledge

10.1163/ej.9789004194854.i-354.74
/content/books/10.1163/ej.9789004194854.i-354.74
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