Poetry - Research Article from Encyclopedia of Religion

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Poetry: Chinese Religious Poetry

To speak of religious poetry in the Chinese context is to beg several questions. First, in classical Chinese there is no exact equivalent to the word religion: Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism are traditionally known as the Three Teachings (sanjiao). Second, it is debatable whether Confucianism is a religion and whether ancestral worship is a kind of religious ritual. (The latter question was the subject of the so-called Rites Controversy among Catholic missionaries to China in the early eighteenth century.) Finally, although Daoist and Buddhist liturgies both contain verses, these are generally not considered worthy of description as poetry. With these reservations in mind, we may nonetheless survey what may be called religious poetry in Chinese.

The earliest anthology of Chinese poetry, the Shi jing (The Book of Songs), consisting of three hundred and five poems dating from about 1100 to about 600 BCE, contains some hymns to...

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This section contains 1,667 words
(approx. 6 pages at 300 words per page)
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Poetry from Macmillan. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.