A Galaxy of Immortal Women: The Yin Side of Chinese Civilization

A Galaxy of Immortal Women: The Yin Side of Chinese Civilization

Brian Griffith

Language: English

Pages: 336

ISBN: 1935259148

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

ForeWord Reviews Mother’s Day Staff Pick: “Books Mom Will Love”

“A valuable historical reference guide.” —Publishers Weekly

“This is a very ambitious and timely book, a book that many historians, literary theorists and story tellers who care about China and its “Other Half of the Sky” want to write, but Brian Griffith did it first, with such scope, ease and fun.” —WANG PING, author of The Last Communist Virgin and Aching for Beauty: Footbinding in China

“This book is a most engaging and entertaining read, and the depth of its scholarship is astounding. Griffith vividly describes the counterculture of Chinese goddesses, shows that their fascinating stories are alive and active today, and points us toward a more inclusive and caring partnership future.” —RIANE EISLER, author of The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics and The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future

Touching on the whole story of China—from Neolithic villages to a globalized Shanghai—this book ties mythology, archaeology, history, religion, folklore, literature, and journalism into a millennia-spanning story about how Chinese women—and their goddess traditions—fostered a counterculture that flourishes and grows stronger every day.

As Brian Griffith charts the stories of China’s founding mothers, shamanesses, goddesses, and ordinary heroines, he also explores the largely untold story of women’s contributions to cultural life in the world’s biggest society and provides inspiration for all global citizens.

Brian Griffith grew up in Texas, studied history at the University of Alberta, and now lives just outside of Toronto, Ontario. He is an independent historian who examines how cultural history influences our lives, and how collective experience offers insights for our future.


















to do these things for them” (De Bary and Chan, 1960, vol. II, 210–213). But by 1944, Mao was growing more willing to do it himself. He complained that in the region around Yanan, “Out of the 1.5 million people in the Shan-Gan-Ning Border Region, there are still more than one million illiterates and two thousand spirit mediums; superstitious thinking is still affecting all of the masses.” In that part of Shaanxi, people even evoked the spirit of the Canadian doctor Norman Bethune. In prayers for

and Political and Social Relevance.” In Kam Louie, editor. The Cambridge Companion to Modern Chinese Culture. New York: Cambridge University Press. Madsen, Richard. 1984. Morality and Power in a Chinese Village. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Mair, Victor H. 1996. “The Book of Good Deeds: A Scripture of the Ne People.” In Donald S. Lopez, Jr., editor. Religions of China in Practice. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Mann, Susan. 2002. “Grooming a Daughter for Marriage:

Evelyn Rawski, editors. Popular Culture in Late Imperial China. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Needham, Joseph and Wang Ling. 1956. Science and Civilization in China, vol., 2. London: Cambridge University Press. Neinhauser, William H., Jr., editor. 1994. The Grand Scribes Records, The Basic Annals of Pre-Han China, by Sima Qien (Ssu-ma Chien). Tsai-fa Cheng, et al., translators. volumes I and II. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. Neskar, Ellen. 1996. “Shrines to Local

suddenly that pots of millet were left to carbonize on the cooking fires. For the next several thousand years Mongolia was a country of nomadic herds people (Walls, 1980, 70–74). They lived in tents, followed the good grass, and became a roving army of horsemen, who regularly raided China’s villages to the south. In Longshan-culture villages of North China from late 2000s BCE, the signs of fortification and weaponry (such as stone battle axes) probably indicate early wars between egotistical

demolish her marriage within days of the wedding. When her new husband tells her to behave properly, she shoots back, “What do I care about silly rules ... With a sudden laying about of my fist, I’ll send you sprawling all over the room.” The groom’s sister whispers to the mother-in-law, “Why don’t you keep her under control? How very unseemly it would be if she carried on like this unchecked! People would only laugh at us” (Ebrey, 1981, 90–91). But the Shrew rushes heedlessly to her tragicomic

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