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The Religious System of China (Volume I) (1894)

Une édition électronique réalisée à partir du texte de l'ouvrage de Johann Jacob Maria de Groot, The Religious System of China. its ancient forms, evolution, history and present aspect. Manners, customs and social institutions connected therewith. Volume I : Disposal of the Dead : Funeral rites — The ideas of resurrection. Édition originale, E. J. Brill, Leiden, 1892, 360 pages + illustrations. Réimpression : Literature House, Ltd, Taipei, Taiwan, 1964. Une édition réalisée par Pierre Palpant, bénévole, Paris.


p.1 As in the case of many, if not of most barbarous and semi-civilized peoples, the human soul is in China the original form of all beings of a higher order. Its worship is therefore the basis of all religion in that country. As such, this worship begins already as soon as life is extinct, then manifesting itself chiefly in the treatment of the mortal coil, which survivors think continues to be inhabited by the soul and may perhaps return to life again. Therefore, in pursuing a systematical study of the religious system of the Chinese, it is quite natural to start from the manner in which they dispose of their dead. A rich store of information, highly valuable for the knowledge of the ideas really prevalent amongst the people regarding the condition of disembodied souls and the resurrection of the body, is in this way acquired. Besides, it affords data calculated to fully explain numerous important points and phenomena in such higher branches of the religious system as have either grown up from the worship of the dead, or, at any rate, developed themselves side by side with it, being incapable of withdrawing themselves from its mighty influence.

The customs described in this Book as observed by the Chinese of the present day are by no means conformed to by all classes of society. As has been remarked already by the ancient Li ki (chapt. 4, leaf 40), « the rites and ceremonies do not go down to the common people » (101), whose means are small and manners rude. p.2 As a basic for our descriptions we have selected the well-to-do classes and families of fashionable standing, amongst whom, in China, we chiefly moved, and these may be said best to maintain the whole system of the rites and ceremonies prescribed by the laws of custom.

Retour au texte de l'auteur: Jean-Marc Fontan, sociologue, UQAM Dernière mise à jour de cette page le dimanche 21 octobre 2007 15:37
Par Jean-Marie Tremblay, sociologue
professeur de sociologie au Cégep de Chicoutimi.

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