Chinese folk religion

Chinese folk religion, also known as Chinese popular religion, is a general term covering a range of traditional religious practices of Han Chinese, including the Chinese diaspora. Vivienne Wee described it as "an empty bowl, which can variously be filled with the contents of institutionalized religions such as Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, the Chinese syncretic religions".[1] This includes the veneration of shen (spirits) and ancestors, exorcism of demonic forces, and a belief in the rational order of nature, balance in the universe and reality that can be influenced by human beings and their rulers, as well as spirits and gods.[2] Worship is devoted to gods and immortals, who can be deities of places or natural phenomena, of human behaviour, or founders of family lineages. Stories of these gods are collected into the body of Chinese mythology. By the Song dynasty (960-1279), these practices had been blended with Buddhist doctrines and Taoist teachings to form the popular religious system which has lasted in many ways until the present day.[3] The present day governments of both mainland China and Taiwan, like the imperial dynasties, tolerate popular religious organizations if they bolster social stability but suppress or persecute those that they fear would undermine it.[4]

Chinese folk religion
Traditional Chinese中國民間信仰
Simplified Chinese中国民间信仰
Xuanyuan Temple in Huangling, Shaanxi, dedicated to the worship of the Yellow Emperor.
The Temple of the City God of Wenao, Magong, Taiwan.
Temple of Hebo ("River Lord"), the god (Heshen, "River God") of the sacred Yellow River, in Hequ, Xinzhou, Shanxi.
Altar to the Five Officials worshipped inside the Temple of the Five Lords in Haikou, Hainan.

After the fall of the empire in 1911, governments and modernizing elites condemned "feudal superstition" and opposed or attempted to eradicate traditional religion in order to promote modern values. By the late 20th century, these attitudes began to change both in Taiwan and in mainland China. Many scholars now view folk religion in a positive light.[5] In recent times traditional religion is experiencing a revival in both China and Taiwan. Some forms have received official understanding or recognition as a preservation of traditional culture, such as Mazuism and the Sanyi teaching in Fujian,[6] Huangdi worship,[7] and other forms of local worship, for example the Longwang, Pangu or Caishen worship.[8]