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Protected by Ancestor and by Text: The Orthodox status of the Lingguan Deity in Genealogies from Xiangtan County since the Qing

Yao CHEN (Xiamen University)
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This article examines the cult of the god Lingguan ("numinous official") in the Xiangtan region of Hunan in the Qing. Some genealogies of local lineages claim the deity migrated together with their founding ancestor to Xiangtan. Before the establish_ment of localized lineages in the Qing, many communities worshipped the god in rotation, moving images of the god from household to household. In the early Qing period, many lineages began to build ancestral halls and perform rituals of ancestral sacrifice. At that time, Lingguan deities were settled in temples and worshipped in the same way as ancestors. Local gentry and commoners defended the orthodox status of the Lingguan cult in their genealogies, manipulating classical texts to legitimize the relationship between deity and ancestor. This paper argues that this peculiar form of deity worship, although not recognized in the official sacrificial system, made it possible for the orthodoxy of the cult to be maintained through connections to ancestors and to texts . At the same time, the distinctive pattern also limited to some extent the possible expansion of the cult's influence.

Journal of History and Anthropology