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Journal Articles Cahiers d'Extrême-Asie Year : 2012

La société locale vue à travers la statuaire domestique du Hunan


The religious statuary of Hunan provides a rich documentary source on domestic cults. While such statuary can be viewed as the culmination of the long history of the religious image in China, much work on which remains to be done, it nevertheless bears many dissimilarities to that tradition. The most important of those dissimilarities is that the statuettes feature a certificate of consecration, a veritable certificate of civil status which reflects a concrete image of familial religious practices and adds to the already substantial amount of information on the subject of communitarian cults published in a number of works over the course of the last few decades. Unsurprisingly, but nevertheless instructively, family altars since the end of the Ming Dynasty feature not only statuettes of national and local divinities, but also major ancestors and masters of lineage and, above all, close ancestors and masters, this last factor constituting a specificity about which we have little information to hand. The aim of this article is thus to focus on statues of ancestors and masters with a view to presenting and analyzing the phenomenon and sketching a table of religious practices in Hunan, both diachronically thanks to the "civil status certificates" and historical sources including genealogies, and synchronically using contemporary surveys conducted in the field. Lastly, this reversal of perspective based on the family nucleus calls into question the nature of the organisation of clans and local society and puts an end to all attempts at applying a global approach to Chinese society.
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halshs-00959725 , version 1 (15-03-2014)


  • HAL Id : halshs-00959725 , version 1


Alain Arrault. La société locale vue à travers la statuaire domestique du Hunan. Cahiers d'Extrême-Asie, 2012, 19, pp.47-132. ⟨halshs-00959725⟩
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