Deciphering the culture of the fertility cults

 

Liao Mingjun.- Shengzhi chongbai de wenhua jiedu (Deciphering the culture of the fertility cults). Guangxi Peoples Press. Nanning, 2006

This book is a study of the fertility cults among the Chinese nationalities. Introducing the reader the different manifestations that these cults take shape in the myths, rituals and taboos of the Han Chinese and the national minorities, it is an attempt to compile a complete overview of the fertility cults in China.

After some general remarks about the fertility cults the author depicts some instances that can validate the relationship between different objects, natural phenomena, animal and plants and their fertility power. So we know about the stone cults, earth cults, and water, thunder and fire cults. About the tree, bamboo, flower, gourd and water melon cults and their relation with the human fertility; about the fish, frog, snake, birds and eggs in the animal realm and about the genital cults in the human sphere.

Choosing to study the fertility cults of so many objects and animals, illustrated with more than 100 pictures and maybe twice the number of complete myths from different minorities, the author can not explain more than some superficial analysis of some myths and ritual extracted from different minorities and epochs that some times are far from convincing.

Nevertheless this book make a rather comprehensive introduction to this subject, emphasizing the unity of some cults, rituals and mythic motives through times and cultures and stressing the need to study the culture of the Chinese minorities beyond the strict line that imposes an official ethnic classification so many times despised by the scholars.

The book also throws light to hidden aspects of Zhuang culture as the author, himself a Zhuang nationality researcher; usually compare myths and rituals from other peoples and times with those of the different branches of the Zhuang.

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