PHIL Guest Lecture – “Bargaining with the Spirits: Excavated Religious Documents from Early China” by Prof. Lai Guolong


15 Oct 2015





Prof. Lai Guolong is Associate Professor of Chinese Art and Archaeology at the University of Florida. He received his MA in Archaeology and Paleography from Peking University and PhD in Art History from UCLA. His research interests include early Chinese art and archaeology, Chinese paleography, and Chinese religious studies. He has published widely in both English and Chinese, and his latest book is titled Excavating the Afterlife: The Archaeology of Early Chinese Religion.


Focusing on groups of divinatory and sacrificial records excavated from Warring States Chu tombs in recent decades, this paper explores the religious nature of excavated manuscripts from early China. These previously unknown documents detail the religious pantheon of the Warring States period and ritual actions such as exorcism, sacrifices and the promise of sacrificial offerings targeting ancestral and natural spirits. Drawing materials from the oracle bone inscriptions of the Shang dynasty, religious documents of the Qin and Han empires, and religious tales of the medieval and later periods, this paper concludes that the strategy of bargaining with the spirits by the dynamics of offering promissory and requital sacrifices is the most important characteristics of Chinese religion.


All are welcome




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