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Chapter Summary

The Song state approved, regulated, codified, and controlled all religious activity in the realm, from the institutionalized religions of Buddhism and Daoism to local cults to mountains, streams, dragons, and local gods that had once been human men or women. Government policy makers tried to ensure that the government had final say on who became religious professionals and what sorts of rituals they performed. After a brief chronological overview of measures taken during each emperor’s reign, this chapter examines more closely four topics: compiling, editing, translating, printing, and distributing canonical texts; praying for rain; conferring titles on shrines and their deities; and suppressing religious practices judged deviant. Compiling canonical texts was done in the capital, but local officials were very much on the frontline of efforts to monitor and control local religious activities.

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