Brill’s Encyclopedia of China

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Primitive Religions
(949 words)

"Primitive religions", in Chinese most often called yuanshi zongjiao (archaic religions), is a collective designation for religious forms characterized by a close relationship with surrounding nature. They developed already in early tribal societies but did not diminish in importance in the Chinese central state, especially for the rural population. Primitive religions represent the oldest layer of local Chinese religion. Mountains, rivers, lakes, trees, stones, fire, and the stars are considered to be living entities, and often they contain deities an…

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Bäcker, Jörg, “Primitive Religions”, in: Brill’s Encyclopedia of China, Managing Editor English Edition: Daniel Leese. Consulted online on 01 February 2023 <>
First published online: 2008
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004168633, 20121018

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