Confucianism, the Literati, and Chinese Imperial Traditions

Leadership, Authority, and Religious Roles

Does the shaman have a place in Confucianism and CIT?

Shamans played an important role in Chinese religious history long before the time of Confucius. They have retained a place in Daoism and CCT, functioning as guides to the spirit world. But since Confucian teaching is far more concerned with how things are going in the “outer” world of ordinary human affairs, there have never been Confucian shamans as such. Shamans have generally been associated with folk and popular beliefs. As an important ingredient in CIT, Confucianism has often had a more aristocratic tone. However, some functions anciently connected with shamanism have had continuous importance throughout much of Chinese history for CIT as well as popular religion. Confucian Literati and their imperial patrons alike have regularly consulted diviners, specialists in feng shui and astrology, for help in determining auspicious times and places for momentous events and structures.


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