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Sanctity and Self-Inflicted Violence in Chinese Religions, 1500-1700$
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Jimmy Yu

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199844906

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199844906.001.0001

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Embodying the Text through Blood Writing

Embodying the Text through Blood Writing

(p.37) 2 Embodying the Text through Blood Writing
Sanctity and Self-Inflicted Violence in Chinese Religions, 1500-1700


Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on blood writing, which was one of the most potent rituals to conveying one’s message and authenticating one’s sanctity. Performers engaged in this practice used it to accomplish many things, including negotiating amnesty from the emperor, transferring religious merit to deceased parents, curing illness, and securing or challenging existing religious or political order. It argues that even though scholars commonly associate blood writing with Buddhist monks copying Buddhist scriptures, this ritual simultaneously elicited many associations. It had complex origins in blood covenant, sacrifice, and the production of apotropaic talisman. It is in this larger cultural context, through these associations, that the practice was intelligible and meaningful for both the performers and their audience.

Keywords:   blood writing, rituals, sanctity, Buddhist monks, Buddhist scriptures, blood covenant, sacrifice, apotropaic talisman

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