The Way of the Locust Tree Studio: The Liumen Movement in Sichuan Province and its Interaction with the Daoist Religion
|Verantwortliche(r):||Volker Olles (Postdoc, Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange)|
|Thema:||The Way of the Locust Tree Studio: The Liumen Movement in Sichuan Province and its Interaction with the Daoist Religion|
The province of Sichuan 四川 in Southwest China is traditionally considered as the cradle of religious Daoism. In this region, where early Daoist movements emerged and the religious worship of Laozi 老子 has a long history, various groups of Daoist practitioners are still active today. Professional priests offer their ritual services to the populace, especially in rural areas, whereas monks and nuns of the Quanzhen 全真 (Complete Perfection) order live in monasteries, which can be found on top of sacred mountains as well as in the middle of crowded cities.
The Confucian scholar Liu Yuan 劉沅 (1768-1856), a native of Sichuan, developed a unique system of thought, merging Confucian learning with ideas and practices from Daoism and Buddhism. The teachings of Liu Yuan, commonly referred to as Liumen 劉門 (Liu School), developed into a popular religious movement during the 19th century. The movement was called Liumen jiao 劉門教 (Teachings of the Liu School) or Huaixuan dao 槐軒道 (Way of the Locust Tree Studio), the latter appellation originating from the name of Liu’s dwelling, Huaixuan, which also became one of his sobriquets. Possibly due to its Confucian credo, the Liumen community was not considered as a heterodox sect in late Qing and Republican times, and it flourished until the middle of the 20th century.
Liu Yuan authored extensive commentaries on the classical books of Confucianism, philosophical and historical treatises, as well as literary works, studies, and inscriptions. He also annotated and edited various religious scriptures, including a collection of Daoist ritual texts titled Fayan huizuan 法言會纂 (Collected Words of Ritual Methods). Many Daoist priests in Sichuan were affiliated with the Liumen movement and used the Fayan huizuan canon in their ritual activities. These practitioners constituted an independent liturgical tradition of non-monastic Daoism in the area, which is still extant and known under the name of Fayan tan 法言壇 (Altar of Ritual Words).
Up to now, the Liumen movement, especially its religious dimension, has rarely been studied by scholars from mainland China and Taiwan, and it remains virtually unnoticed by Western researchers. Yet, the Liumen movement played an important role in the religious history of Sichuan and, to a certain degree, even influenced the development of modern Daoism in this region. Therefore, the practical and religious aspects of the Liumen movement are the focus of the research project. The religious scriptures of the Liumen tradition, its line of transmission, Liu Yuan’s attitude towards established forms of Daoism and Buddhism, the Liumen community’s interaction with Quanzhen Daoist institutions, the Fayan tan ritual tradition, and the Daoist sources of the Fayan huizuan canon will be studied and documented in this project.