Research Project


Prophecy and Spirit-Writing in Qing Conquest China

Daniel Burton-Rose

Prophecy and Spirit-Writing in Qing Conquest China. The book relates the forty-year career of Peng Dingqiu (1645-1719), a prominent literatus and official from Suzhou, as the supervisor of a spirit-writing altar devoted to Wenchang. Dingqiu explained his own success in the civil examinations to a prophecy he received through spirit-writing, and for the next four decades oversaw his own altar faciliting prophecy reception for fellow elites and using the voices of spirits to advocate for particular self-cultivation programs within a Cheng-Zhu and Wang Yangming-oriented Confucian framework.
Celestial Officials consolidates the outpouring of scholarship from France, Japan, Taiwan, and the People's Republic of China on spirit-writing by Qing literati-officials in order to provide a fresh perspective on elite religiosity and the Qing conquest. It offers unprecedented detail on the social networks in which divine injunctions were received and circulated. Through analysis of Dingqiu?s previously unknown manuscript autobiography and a broad range sources including genealogies, jottings, gazetteers, and s?ce transcripts, Celestial Officials presents spirit-writing altars as key nodes of intra-elite cooperation and contestation. Through participation in these altars local notables and officials of empire-wide standing negotiated conflict and collectively formulated guidelines for conduct to help them meet shared goals.

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