This paper discusses early beliefs concerning Master Redpine, using his biography in the Liexian zhuan as a point of departure. After briefly discussing the Liexian zhuan account’s relationship to ancient rain-making rituals, it illustrates Master Redpine’s relationship with other ancient Chinese rain gods, with reference to the findings of Max Kaltenmark (1953), particularly through their associated colors (red and green) and movements. The author concurs with Kaltenmark’s description of Master Redpine, on one level, as a kind of tree sprite, specifically of the Chinese tamarisk, and provides more supporting textual evidence for this. This paper then explores Master Redpine’s role in the early Higher Clarity Daoism, in which Redpine becomes but one manifestation of a deity who can appear in many different guises—a primordial being of pure energy, the Star of Longevity, the planet Mars, a wandering teacher, and even a terrifying spirit who comes to mete out punishment. The possibility that Master Redpine is effectively the father of Yang Xi’s (330–386) celestial spouse, Consort An, is explored. The paper finally returns to consider the significance of the placement of Master Redpine’s biography at the head of the Liexian zhuan, and to contrast it with the last biography in order to bring out that text’s broader perspective on the world.


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pp. 27-60
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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