Embodying the Text through Blood Writing


in Sanctity and Self-Inflicted Violence in Chinese Religions, 1500-1700

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199844906
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199949564 | DOI:
Embodying the Text through Blood Writing

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This chapter focuses on blood writing, which was one of the most potent rituals to conveying one’s message and authenticating one’s sanctity. Performers engaged in this practice used it to accomplish many things, including negotiating amnesty from the emperor, transferring religious merit to deceased parents, curing illness, and securing or challenging existing religious or political order. It argues that even though scholars commonly associate blood writing with Buddhist monks copying Buddhist scriptures, this ritual simultaneously elicited many associations. It had complex origins in blood covenant, sacrifice, and the production of apotropaic talisman. It is in this larger cultural context, through these associations, that the practice was intelligible and meaningful for both the performers and their audience.

Keywords: blood writing; rituals; sanctity; Buddhist monks; Buddhist scriptures; blood covenant; sacrifice; apotropaic talisman

Chapter.  10487 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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