Religious Publishing in Sichuan in the Late Qing

Paper: Religious Publishing in Sichuan in the Late Qing
Presenter: Elena Valussi
Abstract: Very little research has been done on religious publishing in Sichuan, as opposed to the coverage large cities and coastal areas have received. I wish to survey publishing establishments in Sichuan dealing specifically with religious contents in late Qing, a moment of great religious activity combined with the increasing ease of small and large scale publishing. I will focus on an area that includes Daoist, “three religions”, redemptive and moralistic treatises, but that often defies categorizations. I will survey different publishing enterprises, from large temple publishing project, to publishing houses attached to large networks of lay intellectuals; from small lay altars publishing treatises received through spirit writing, to family publishing businesses combining religious and non-religious works.

In this way, I hope to highlight first and foremost the variety of different religious publishing in Sichuan in the late Qing; secondly the close connection between spirit writing activities and publishing, with the overwhelming presence of Lü Dongbin as one of the major deities involved in spirit written activities; third, I wish to focus on the interrelatedness of these activities. Many of the texts produced at small altars were then reprinted in larger collections. The topics of these texts vary, but they combine salvific messages, shanshu materials, Confucian morality treatises, yangsheng instructions. Sichuan, with its rich and varied religious activities and with its flourishing publishing business, provided opportunities to receive, publish and share religious texts.

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