This article documents the intimate relationship between drama and ritual in rural China. Drama was an indispensable means of entertaining the deities, enticing them down from the heavens to receive human offerings. The xinggan dramas examined in this article, however, were distinctive in that their content was actually thematically related to the Fanjiulou salvation ritual during which they were performed. Xinggan dramas not only entertained the deities but also provided a means by which audiences were able to visualize in the drama the very process of salvation that the simultaneous conduct of the Fanjiulou ritual was meant to effect. Thus, xinggan dramas and the rituals of Fanjiulou were mutually reinforcing, each contributing to a common goal, each shedding light on the significance of the other.


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pp. 179-203
Launched on MUSE
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