2012 New History
P. O. Box 1-44, Nankang, Taipei 11529, Taiwan, R. O. C.
02-2782-9555 # 226

Ancestor and Deity: The Superscription of Rituals in the Process of Legitimization As Seen in Leizhou, Guangdong

He Xi

Postdoctoral Fellow, History Department, Chinese University of Hong Kong

This article examines the cult of Leizu (thunder god) over the longue duree to highlight why Leizu appears to be both an ancestor and a deity in Leizhou. It argues that the construction of lineage rituals only appeared in Leizhou in the late Ming and early Qing period, a time when the ethnic customs of the area were still deeply rooted in local religion. When lineage rituals entered Leizhou, local aboriginals understood that treating the deity as their ancestor did not conform to the norms of orthodox rituals. Therefore, the deity split into different forms, such as Leizu and Leishou. At the same time, however, Confucianized rituals did not eradicate the legacy of the past. Therefore, we see a deity with multiple identities, while the architecture of buildings of worship combines features of ancestral halls and shrines.


Keywords: lineage, local deity, Leizu (thunder god)