BOOKS> Chen, "In the Land of Tigers and Snakes: Living with Animals in Medieval Chinese Religions" and "Animals and Plants in Chinese Religions and Science"

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My following two books have been published in March, 2023:

In the Land of Tigers and Snakes: Living with Animals in Medieval Chinese Religions

Huaiyu Chen

New York: Columbia University Press

For more information:

PUB DATE: March 2023, 288 pages

ISBN: 9780231202619,  FORMAT: Paperback

ISBN: 9780231202602 FORMAT: Hardcover

ISBN: 9780231554640 FORMAT: E-book


This book examines how Buddhist ideas about animals changed and were changed by medieval Chinese culture. He explores the entangled relations among animals, religions, the state, and local communities, considering both the multivalent meanings associated with animals and the daily experience of living with the natural world. Chen illustrates how Buddhism influenced Chinese knowledge and experience of animals as well as how Chinese state ideology, Daoism, and local cultic practices reshaped Buddhism. He shows how Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism developed doctrines, rituals, discourses, and practices to manage power relations between animals and humans. Drawing on a wide range of sources, including traditional texts, stone inscriptions, manuscripts, and visual culture, this interdisciplinary book bridges history, religious studies, animal studies, and environmental studies. In examining how Buddhist depictions of the natural world and Chinese taxonomies of animals mutually enriched each other, In the Land of Tigers and Snakes offers a new perspective on how Buddhism took root in Chinese society.

Table of Contents:

List of Illustrations
1. Buddhists Categorizing Animals: Medieval Chinese Classification
2. Confucians Civilizing Unruly Beasts: Tigers and Pheasants
3. Buddhists Taming Felines: The Companionship of the Tiger
4. Daoists Transforming Ferocious Tigers: Practical Techniques and Rhetorical Strategies
5. Buddhists Killing Reptiles: Snakes in Religious Competition
6. Buddhists Enlightening Virtuous Birds: The Parrot as a Religious Agent


Animals and Plants in Chinese Religions and Science
By Huaiyu Chen

London: Anthem Press, March 2023. 214 pages.

For more information:

PDF, ISBN: 9781839985027

EPUB, ISBN: 9781839985034

Hardback, ISBN: 9781839985010


In ancient China, the tradition of observing nature is combined with Yin-Yang and the Five-Phase theories, which were later incorporated into the ancient arts of divination, including the technique of predicting weather changes by observing the behavior and health of animals. The observation of the close connection between animals and weather developed into the worship of animals, that is, what can be called the cult of animals. Plant science and technology in medieval China cannot be separated from the developments in agriculture, economics, and medicine, as well as cultural practice. The Chinese empire ruled most of East Asia in the medieval period. Numerous species of plants were observed, cultivated, harvested, and used in the vast land of China that spanned a wide range of biomes from boreal through to temperate and tropical, with most regions classed as subtropical. Besides indigenous plants, many plants from West, Central, South, and Southeast Asia were introduced into China and East Asia in general. Numerous zoomantic practices appeared in two sets of textual documents in the premodern Chinese bibliographical system, namely official documents and popular documents. Official documents were often compiled by government officials and served political governance objectives. These documents included official histories, annals, and institutional documents, as well as Confucian classics. The authorship or editorship of these documents was often explicit. Popular documents included strange writings, tales, legends, and religious documents from Buddhism and Daoism, which were often not compiled under the sponsorship and support of the court or government. They might be compiled by literati but lost original authorship. They did not serve political motivations and objectives, reflecting how people understood and interpreted correlative cosmology by observing animal behaviors at the local or non-bureaucratic level.

Table of Contents:

  • Acknowledgments;
  • List of Figures;
  • List of Charts;
  • Introduction;
  • Plant Science and Technology in Medieval China
  • Ordering Plants in the Buddhist World: A Medieval Botanical Taxonomy
  • Animal Divination and Climate: An Environmental Perspective on the Cult of the Pig
  • Zoomancy in Medieval China
  • The Changing Images of Zodiac Animals in Medieval Chinese Buddhist Literature
  • The Were-Tigers in Medieval China and Its Asian Context
  • The Animal Turn in Asian Studies and the Asian Turn in the Animal Studies
  • Bibliography
  • Index