Fengshui in China: Geomantic Divination Between State Orthodoxy and Popular Religion

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by Ole Bruun

Unlike popular manuals, this book approaches fengshui from an academic angle, focusing on its significance in China, but also depicting the recent history of its reinterpretation in the West. It includes a historical account of fengshui over the last 150 years with anthropological fieldwork on contemporary practices in two Chinese rural areas. The author argues that fengshui serves as an alternative tradition of cosmological knowledge to explain a range of everyday occurrences in rural areas such as disease, mental disorders, accidents and common mischief. Although Chinese authorities have opposed the tradition for centuries, it has been used by almost everyone as an aspect of popular cosmology. This paperback edition of the 2003 hardback introduces new material, responding to the evolving scholarly debate and reflecting changes in Chinese society, culture and beliefs.

"Ole Bruun’s direct observations of fengshui … are the most detailed and extensive that have been made in these new conditions. He is well placed to say what fengshui has become in the dramatically changed circumstances of its homeland." – Stephan Feuchtwang

"This valuable study will be required reading for scholars of Chinese religion, and makes a valuable contribution to the anthropology of religion." – Joseph Bosco, East Asia

"[This book] offers significant insights into the working of diverse coexisting traditions ... [and will] undoubtedly remain an important work in the studies of contemporary China’s transformation as well as postcolonial cultural development." – Yinong Xu, China Review International

Ole Bruun is Associate Professor at Roskilde University’s Institute for Society and Globalization. Besides working on fengshui and Asian perceptions of nature in general, he is a leading scholar on Mongolian studies.

Publication year: 2011
332 pp / 215mm x 139mm
11 figures
ISBN: 978-87-91114-57-1, Paperback
ISBN: 978-87-91114-79-3, Hardback

NIAS Press