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CHEN Yongchao, Peking University

Folk Legend and Its Dynamics: A Case Study of Oral Narratives and Worship of Ancient Holy Figures in Hongtong, Shanxi



The “Receiving Gugu and Welcoming Nionio” activity in Hotong County, Shanxi, accepted wholesale the mainstream tradition’s rendering of Yao and Shun’s legends before it shifted the narrative focus from sage kings to holy queens. By breaking through the venerable narrative that clung on it for a long time, the potential of folk narrative was released amidst secular atmosphere. The holy queens’ life stories provide a rare interpretive framework for a ritual not uncommon in China. It privatized national ancestors to local ancestors and turned geo-relations into blood relations. Granted, as little tradition, the legends of holy queens differ greatly from the classics of the great tradition. However, the discourse of great tradition, particularly it’s dominant nature, serves to regulate the little tradition either publicly or indirectly.

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Dr. Sigrun Abels
Center for Cultural Studies on Science and Technology in China (CCST)
sec. KAI 1-4
Room KAI 1.114
104-106/10553 Berlin

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