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From demon to deity: Kang Wang in Thirteenth-Century Jizhou and beyond

From demon to deity: Kang Wang in Thirteenth-Century Jizhou and beyond

By Anne Gerritsen

T’oung Pao, Vol. 90:1-3 (2004)

Abstract: This essay discusses the cult of a deity known as Kang Wang, worshipped throughout Jizhou in thirteenth-century Jiangxi. The identity of this deity remains to some extent mysterious; many different identifying stories for Kang Wang coexist. Underneath these guises, however, his origins as a fearsome and unnamed demon shine through. I argue that the various representations of Kang Wang must be understood as resulting from the very different agendas of the authors who created those identities, but they all share one aim: covering up the demonic roots of the deity. Providing a name and place of origin for the deity should be seen as attempts to exert authority over this demonic force.

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