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PENG Mu, Beijing Normal University

Jianghu, Masters, and Apprenticeship: Embodiment and Esoteric Knowledge in Rural Hunan

Abstract

中文摘要:基于我在湖南茶陵的田野作业,本文考察了民间仪式专家在农村宗教知识生产与传承中的关键作用。通过讨论这些专家的学徒传统和我的田野经历,我试图勾勒他们的江湖圈子和普通农民之间无形却无处不在的界限。引入当地“拟师”与“请师”的概念,我探讨了师徒之间深入骨髓的纽带,也即他们共同的、已成为身体一部分的知识。这些与其传承人密不可分的知识,不仅成为他们身份认同的核心,并从根本上维持着其职业的权威性与神秘性。

Based upon my fieldwork in Chaling county, Hunan province, my paper provides a case study on the significance of local ritual specialists in religious knowledge production and transmission in rural China. In examining apprentice tradition of specialists as well as reflecting upon my field experiences, I delineate a profile of their esoteric world, the so-called jianghu (江湖), where invisible yet sensible boundaries with the outside are constantly in the making. Highlighting nishi(拟师), meaning imitating (ni拟) masters, as well as relevant qingshi (请师), meaning inviting (qing请) masters, I explore the inseparable ties between masters and disciples, manifested as deeply incorporated and shared knowledge. Local religious knowledge especially that transmitted through apprenticeship, I argue, is not only undetachable from bodies that embody them, but play a key role in forming their identity and securing boundaries of their guarded professions.

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