Religious Revival among the Zhuang People in China: Practising “Superstition” and Standardizing a Zhuang Religion

Ya-ning Kao


This paper examines two cases of Zhuang religious revival involving multiple actors. It shows how consideration of “superstition” (迷信, mixin) places some religious practice outside the institutional framework when discussing the modern concept of religion in China. In this paper, I particularly focus on two main dimensions of religious revival among the Zhuang people. The first is a grassroots dimension that involves the revival of a so-called “superstitious” cult in which Zhuang people along the Sino-Vietnamese border carry out shamanic rituals to make offerings to a powerful chief-turned-deity, Nong Zhigao, and his wife. The second dimension is a top-down dynamic and involves a series of projects conducted by Zhuang officials, scholars and business persons, which aim to standardize a Zhuang religion, known as Mo religion. These two cases of religious revival demonstrate the varied strategies utilized by different actors in response to government policies regarding religion in China.

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