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Taoist tradition, gentry culture, and local societies: The cult of Zougong at Sibao in western Fujian Province since the Song and Ming dynasties

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image of Frontiers of History in China

Zougong, the most important local deity at Sibao, Tingzhou Prefecture, was worshipped by local villagers at least from the Yuan and the Ming dynasties on. The Zou lineages in the area regarded Zougong as their common ancestor. Existing literature usually identifies Zougong as Zou Yinglong, a zhuangyuan in the Southern Song Dynasty. However, such identification appeared only in the late Ming period when local elites of several Zou lineages consciously tried to unite and consolidate their lineages. Before that, Zougong was a mighty ritual master in a series of magic contest stories popular at Tingzhou, rather than a zhuangyuan. The change of his identity from ritual master to zhuangyuan was a result of convergence of Taoist tradition, gentry culture and local culture, which may be called “cultural hybridization,” rather than a simple process by which local culture gave way to gentry culture.


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