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(1,231 words)

Author(s): Bumbacher, Stephan Peter
Life of Confucius 1. Confucianism is the philosophical tradition of China, coming down from Kong Qiu, later named Kong zi, or Kong fuzi, ‘Master Kong.’ In the seventeenth century, the Jesuits Latinized the name to ‘Confucius.’ Little is known about Confucius (551–479 BCE) with certitude. According to some assertions, he lived ‘without rank and in low relations’ (Lun yu, 9:6), presumably a member of the lower nobility. Nevertheless, he received an education in writing, archery, and music. He is tho…

Mao, Cult of

(1,267 words)

Author(s): Bumbacher, Stephan Peter
‘Cult of Mao’ designates the personal cult or veneration (→ Veneration of Persons/Personality Cult) of revolutionary fighter and Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-tung; 1893–1976). This cult can be divided into two phases: the one practiced during Mao's lifetime, and the one that developed after his death. Folk Veneration and Formation of the Cult of Mao after his Death 1. Near the beginning of 1989, a ‘movement’ began in South China that quickly spread to the North, and within a few months embraced practically all → China. It is s…

Veneration of Persons/Personality Cult

(1,746 words)

Author(s): Bumbacher, Stephan Peter
1. ‘Veneration of persons,’ or ‘personality cult,’ indicates reverence for a special personality. This reverence can go so far, in certain cultures, that the venerated persons are actually ascribed divinity. As a result, the designation, which has not yet established itself in religious studies, is often applied polemically, as a ‘counter-concept’ to reverence for God. Originally, ‘veneration of persons’ was a ‘buzz phrase,’ with a negative connotation. It was coined by Nikita Khrushchev in 1956…


(1,353 words)

Author(s): Bumbacher, Stephan Peter
1. Originally, the word ‘orientation’ meant directing someone or something in the direction of ‘sunrise.’ (The Latin root of the word is [sol] oriens, ‘rising [sun],’ ‘morning.’) Hence the further meaning of ‘East’ as an area of the earth. The chief types of orientation are (1) astronomical orientation: the laying out of cultic installations for example, according to the chief directions of the compass; (2) environmental orientation: as the erection of churches and chapels at the highest point of an area (hill, mounta…


(3,337 words)

Author(s): Bumbacher, Stephan Peter
“Ritual of Cosmic Renewal” ( Jiao) The most important religious event for the village community (or population of a city quarter) is the celebration of the “Ritual of Cosmic Renewal” ( jiao), which is to take place after temple renovations, after temple foundations and expansions, and at least once every sixty years. It is usually three days and three nights long, and it involves not only the entire village, but also associated communities, relatives, and friends from elsewhere, all of whom are invited to take part in the gre…

Prehistory and Protohistory

(1,127 words)

Author(s): Bumbacher, Stephan Peter
Paleolithic: Homo erectus and the associated lithic industry ("scree tools", so-called Olduvai) appear in East Africa about 2 million years BCE - about 500,000 years after the first appearance of hominids of the species Homo. H. erectus then seems to have spread beyond Africa in the course of approximately 200,000 years. The fossil find of Dmanisi (Georgia) is dated at 1.7 million years BCE. H. erectus should have reached Java (Indonesia) between 1.8 and 1.6 million years BCE, though the dating is still controversial. In the course of this expansion he presum…


(1,385 words)

Author(s): Bumbacher, Stephan Peter
Traditional Western concepts and classifications of religion are of little use when seeking to describe and explain Chinese religious phenomena, given, for instance, that it is common practice in China to consult a Daoist priest when medicine fails to cure an ailment, then to sacrifice to one's ancestors at home (possibly in accord with a ritual devised by the Confucian Zhu Xi), and, in the event of a death, to employ the services of a Buddhist monk for the funeral rites. For example, Daoism and…