The term Yao refers to a non-sinitic speaking, southern “Chinese” people who originated in central China, south of the Yangzi River.
Despite categorization by Chinese and Western scholars of Yao as an ethnic minority with a primitive culture, it is now recognized that not only are certain strains of religious Daoism prominent in Yao ritual traditions, but the Yao culture also shares many elements with pre-modern official and mainstream Chinese culture.
This book is the first to furnish a history—part cultural, part political, and part religious—of contacts between the Chinese state and autochthonous peoples (identified since the 11th century as Yao people) in what is now South China. It vividly details the influence of Daoism on the rich history and culture of the Yao people.
The book also includes an examination of the specific terminology, narratives, and symbols (Daoist/ imperial) that represent and mediate these contacts.
The foreword to this unprecedented study is by distinguished Asian Studies scholar, Professor Barend J. ter Haar of Leiden University.