Theses Doctoral

Questioning Convergence: Daoism in South China during the Yuan Dynasty

McGee, Neil E.

This dissertation challenges the existing narrative in the history of Daoism that asserts that it was precisely during the Yuan period when all the different lineages "converged" to form the "two great Daoist schools" of Quanzhen and Zhengyi and furthermore suggests that there was a progression to this convergence, that the Quanzhen school in the north was "replaced" in imperial favor by the Celestial Masters of the Zhengyi school in the south after the Mongols conquered the Song dynasty in 1276. By critically examining contemporaneous sources, especially inscriptions, this study reveals that the patriarchs of the Zhang family of Mount Longhu ("the Celestial Masters of the Zhengyi school") were not the most influential or authoritative Daoists during the Yuan.

In fact, it was the patriarchs of the lineage of the Mysterious Teachings that were the most eminent and influential Daoists from the south. In comparing the roles played by the Mysterious Teachings in contradistinction to the Celestial Masters, this study dismantles the prevailing narrative that the patriarchs of the Zhang family of Mount Longhu were the sole spiritual and political authorities over Daoism throughout Chinese history and shows that they did not in fact fully established themselves as the perennial sacred leaders of Daoism until the Ming dynasty.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
East Asian Languages and Cultures
Thesis Advisors
Hymes, Robert Paul
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 16, 2014