restricted access Daoist Ritual Manuals in Vietnam: Self-Cultivation, Cosmic Steps, and Healing Talismans


This paper examines visual representations—charts, talismans, and drawings—in Daoist ritual manuals contained in a collection of about 200 Chinese-language manuscripts from the Sino-Vietnamese border. Today kept in Taiwan, they presumably belonged to ritual specialists of Zhuang and Yao ethnic minority groups. This paper provides detailed analysis of many common graphic and pictorial images featured in Daoist manuals omnipresent in south China and, as this research shows, neighboring Vietnam. Used during the ritual of salvation of the soul of a deceased, these manuals present numerous talismans that formed part of the healing techniques practiced by Daoist priests.