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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The demon stories of Hong Mai’s Yijianzhi Grundvig, Julie

Abstract

This thesis examines a selection of demon stories in the Yijianzhi (Records of Yijian), a compilation of stories and anecdotes recorded by the Song historian Hong Mai (1123-1202). This collection has been largely neglected by scholars until very recently. Falling under the category of zhiguai or "records of anomalies," the stories in the Yijianzhi primarily concern supernatural events, gathered by Hong Mai from family, friends and acquaintances. Similar to belief legends, the stories contain repetitive themes and plot-structure carried over from earlier zhiguai. Demon stories make up a considerable portion of the supernatural stories within the collection and are identifiable by their adherence to a common plot-type, in which a protagonist relies on magic and the aid of a religious specialist to destroy a malevolent demon. The stories are significant for the information they contain on Buddhist, Daoist, and popular ritual during the Song. Through a close reading and translation of ten stories, we gain a vivid picture of how people of the Song conceptualized the world of the demonic and how their perspectives were shaped by religious beliefs that informed their daily lives.

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