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SHI Aidong, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

Contextualizing a Goddess Story in Human Experience: Madam Xian as Orally Transmitted and Literary Inscribed



Madam Xian (冼夫人), a female head of her minority tribe南越, is the most popular Goddess at western Guangdong Province and Hainan Island after her death in Sui Dynasty. She has been adored, with her legend written and nearly 600 temples built in her honor for over 1,400 years. The paper is dedicated to discuss the big difference between the orally transmitted story and literary inscribed story on the worship of Madam Xian through field working. To the recorders and writers, those stories that met the progressive view of history and described the historical heroine Madam Xian were valued and deserved to be recorded. However, to the most of worshippers of Madam Xian, those stories that contextualizing the Goddess miraculous legend in their reality life and human experience were deserved to be transmitted. The gap between written and oral story was mainly due to the value orientation difference between the recorders and the oral narrators.

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