Women in Daoism
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Women in Daoism
Paperback 34.95 USD
Electronic file 15.00 USD To order, please go to www.lulu.com
Catherine Despeux and Livia Kohn
296 Pages
September 2003


Expanding on the authors' previous research, including the 1990 book Les immortelles de la Chine ancienne, this work outlines the status and roles of women in the Daoist tradition from its inception to the present day. It divides into three major parts: Goddesses,Immortals and Ordinands,and Women's Transformation.

Overall, it details the historical development and general role of Daoist women and focusing on the different ideals women stood for as much as on the religious practices they cultivated. Not only a thorough treatment of the tradition itself, the volume also contextualizes the position of women in Daoist in relation to that in Chinese culture and compares it to that in other religions.

The work emphasizes the degree to which women in Daoism were considered and treated as equal yet separate, matching the worldview of yin and yang in mainstream Chinese culture yet offering a valuable alternative to the family-centered path of women in the Confucian universe. The volume is comprehensive and highly informative; it provides a much needed addition to our understanding of women in traditional cultures and our view of the role and importance of the Daoist religion.


This book is awesome. It reads clearly and fluently. The topics of the chapters make sense; the arguments are convincing and well-supported. The authors are thoroughly conversant with the fields of Daoist studies, Chinese history, and women's studies. They pull together the best of older and more recent scholarship to make a coherent narrative in a way that has never been done before. What is more, they make major contributions of both new ideas and new information. This book has no rival. It should instantly become a standard.

--Suzanne Cahill, University of California, San Diego

There are no truly rival publications. None has either the scope or the quality of the present book. This is the only solid, up-to-date, booklength presentation of women and the feminine in Daoism. It is comprehensive in its thorough presentation of all pertinent Daoist texts on all pertinent aspects of the subject.

--J. Russell Kirkland, University of Georgia