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1 Prenatal Infancy Regained: Great Peace (Taiping) Views on Procreation and Life Cycles

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Chapter Summary

A massive and heterogeneous textual corpus whose received version appears in the fifteenth-century Taoist Canon, the Great Peace Scripture (Taiping jing) is the ultimate crystallisation of a set of ideas and beliefs common to an undefined human group during the first centuries of our era. On the assumption that this source and fragments of Weft (wei) texts reflect ideologies located on the margins of official ideology but sharing with it a common, cultural worldview, this paper surveys a cluster of materials related to the themes of human impregnation, the symbolism of gestation, prenatal infancy, birth, and the imagery of layered cosmic cycles. Great Peace adepts imagined turning to their own advantage the dynamics of these cycles in order to initiate a process of ontological reversion to the pristine condition of prenatal infancy and thereby liberate themselves from the lethality of Yin/Yang binary time.



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