Religions of Ancient China

Religions of Ancient China (1906)
by Herbert Allen Giles

First Published in 1906 by Constable and Company Ltd., London

110939Religions of Ancient China1906Herbert Allen Giles



Chronological Syllabus


Legendary Period (Twenty-ninth Century to Tenth Century B.C.)—P'an Ku and Creation—First Worship of Spirits—Worship of God, with incense—Sacrifices to Mountains and Rivers—Worship of Sun, Moon, and Stars—Institution of Ancestral Worship—God enjoys music, dancing, and burnt offerings—God resents bad government—Revelation in a Dream—Anthropomorphism—Fetishism—No Devil—No Hell—Terms for God—The Character for "God" is a picture of a Man—God and Jehovah—God in the Odes—Hou Chi and Parthenogenesis—Superstitions and Supernatural Manifestations—Sacrifice—Ancestral Worship—Filial Piety.

Feudal Age (Tenth Century to Third Century B.C.)—The Influence of Confucianism—His Agnosticism—Weakening of Supernatural Beliefs—Consolidation of Confucianism—Human Sacrifices—Prayers for Rain—The Philosophy of Taoism—A Rival to Confucianism—But uniting to weaken the old Monotheistic Faith—Its Theory of Spirits—Modifications of Taoism—The Elixir of Life—Evidences of a Spiritual World—Mysticism.

The Empire (Third Century B.C. to modern times)—Arguments against a Spiritual World—Attributes of God—Good and Evil—Buddhism appears—Conflict of Faiths—Struggle between Buddhism and Taoism—Taoism borrows from Buddhism and becomes a Religion—Mazdeism appears—Followed closely by Mahometanism, Nestorian Christianity, and Manichaeism—Mahometanism alone survived—Jews arrived about Eleventh Century A.D.—Chu Hsi materialised the Confucian Canon—Henceforward Agnosticism the rule for literati—Buddhism and Taoism (both debased) for the Masses—The Jesuits arrive in the Sixteenth Century—Protestant Missionaries date from 1799.

Selected Works Bearing on the Religions of China

  • Religion in China. Joseph Edkins, D.D.
  • The Religions of China. James Legge, D.D.
  • The Dragon, Image and Demon, or the three Religions of China. Rev. H. C. du Bose.
  • Les Religions de la Chine. C. de Harbez.
  • The Religious System of China: Its ancient forms, evolution, history, etc. J. J. de Groot, Ph.D.
  • The Sacred Books of China. James Legge, D.D.
  • Chinese Buddhism. Joseph Edkins, D.D.
  • Le Shinntoisme. Michel Revon.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1929.

The longest-living author of this work died in 1935, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 88 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.


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