Project

Occult Texts and Everyday Knowledge in China in the Age of Manuscripts, Fourth Century B.C. to Tenth Century A.D.

Program

China Studies Program Postdoctoral Fellowships , ACLS Fellowship Program

Department

East Asian Languages and Civilizations

Abstract

Chinese manuscripts rediscovered (due to archaeological excavation and chance discovery) since the twentieth century provide a basis for knowledge of ancient and medieval Chinese culture that cannot be obtained from transmitted texts in post-medieval printed editions. This project addresses manuscripts with occult texts on divination, astrology, and magic, which represent occult knowledge intended for use in everyday life. Using codicological, text critical, and anthropological methods, this study demonstrates the continuity of occult knowledge across more than 1000 years due to the circulation of the written texts in manuscripts, often copied by readers themselves; it also offer insights on literacy in popular culture as well as on religion, magic, and science.