Chinese Religions: the EBook by Mario Poceski

By Mario Poceski

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London: Penguin Books. Chang, Kwang-chih. 1980. Shang Civilization. New Haven: Yale University Press. Chang, Kwang-chih. 1983. Art, Myth, and Ritual: The Path to Political Authority in Ancient China. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Chang, Kwang-chih, Pingfang Xu, Liancheng Lu, and Sarah Allan. 2005. The Formation of Chinese Civilization: An Archaeological Perspective. New Haven: Yale University Press. Ching, Julia. 1997. Mysticism and Kingship in China: The Heart of Chinese Wisdom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Generally speaking, there is a lack of scholarly consensus on how to define the category of myth. In part that is due the fact that various scholars approach the study of mythology through the interpretive lenses of diverse academic disciplines, such as anthropology, psychology, literary studies, or history of religions. At the most basic level, myths are ancient stories or archaic narratives, commonly featuring supernatural beings or primordial heroes. Usually they are told in prose, but they can also assume verse form.

It is often debatable if particular aspects of Chinese mores or social practices can be traced back directly or solely to Confucian teachings and ideals, as they are also shaped by other systems of values and sources of meaning, which together serve as building blocks of larger patterns of social order and cultural identity. Moreover, as we observe the various changes and adaptations of Confucianism in response to new social circumstances or political demands, we also have to keep in mind the tradition’s historical impact beyond China.

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