Journey of a Goddess
Chen Jinggu Subdues the Snake Demon
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First English translations of a novel and two play excerpts based on tales of the goddess Chen Jinggu, an eighth-century shaman and present-day cult deity.
This book offers the first translation into English of the Chinese novel Haiyouji, as well as excerpts of a marionette play based on the cult lore of the goddess Chen Jinggu (766–790), a historical shaman priestess who became one of Fujian's most important goddesses and the Lüshan Sect's chief deity. The novel, a 1753 reprint of what is possibly a Ming dynasty novel, was both a popular fiction and a religious tract. It offers a lively mythological tale depicting combat between the shaman goddess and a snake demon goddess. Replete with the beliefs and practices of the cult of this warrior goddess, the novel asserts the importance of Shamanism (i. e., local religious beliefs) as one of the four religions of China, along with Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism. To further develop the links between literature and local religion, Fan Pen Li Chen includes translations of two acts from a Fujian marionette play, Biography of the Lady, featuring the goddess.
Fan Pen Li Chen is Associate Professor of East Asian Studies at the University at Albany, State University of New York. She is the author of Chinese Shadow Theatre: History, Popular Religion, and Women Warriors; Visions for the Masses: Chinese Shadow Plays from Shaanxi and Shanxi; and the editor and translator of Marionette Plays from Northern China, also published by SUNY Press.