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Song of a Water Dragon
Song of a Water Dragon is the biography of He Yi An, a Chinese Taoist born amidst the shift from Imperial to modern China. His life, steeped in centuries-old beliefs, ceremonies, and practices, collides with the rise of Communism, the frenzy of modernisation, and rejection of “superstious traditions.”

He Yi An is born into a middle class family, the son of a respected leather craftsman. Early in life he is initiated into the local Taoist Bible Society, where he learns sutras (musical poems on the nature of the Tao) and various musical instruments. As the privileged first son of wealthy parents, his future is bright with promise.

However, ill fortune strikes with the death of his first-born child. In rapid succession, misfortune after misfortune befalls him. Once blissfully ignorant of events outside his own life, He Yi An is suddenly swept up in the frenzied Communist takeover of China. As a landlord and member of the middle class, he and his family are immediate targets for persecution.

He Yi An is removed from his home and forced to live in a stable with his second wife and newborn child. He is hungry, exhausted from physical labor, and sick with fear that vengeful farmers might kill him. It is in these times of desperation that the sutras comfort He Yi An, and dutiful recitation saves him from madness and suicide.

This remarkable work is a cultural record, a firsthand account of a landmark era in China’s history, and a moving testimony to the strength of the human spirit.


Echoes of History
Based on extensive fieldwork and documentary research, this book is a chronicle of the musical history of Lijiang County in Yunnan Province, southwest China. It focuses on Dongjing music, a repertoire borrowed from China’s Han ethnic majority by the indigenous Naxi inhabitants of Lijiang County. Used before 1949 in ceremonies of the Confucian-influenced ritual Dongjing associations as well as in secular entertainment, Dongjing music was a key example of the Naxi minority’s assimilation of Han culture over the last 200 years. Prized for its complexity and elegance, it helped define social relationships, as proficiency in the music and membership in the Dongjing associations often signified high social status and cultural refinement. In a stunning new development, since the late 1980s, Lijiang’s Dongjing music has become a major factor in the county’s huge tourism industry, and has reached international concert halls.

The first study in English on Naxi music, this book sets Dongjing music within Lijiang’s wider musical landscape, and its unique in providing a complete history of music in a single county in China over the twentieth century. It integrates individual, local, and national histories with musical expertise and musical change.

Ethnic-minority music in China provides a vivid example of the tremendous cultural changes over the past century, and minority traditions continue to evolve as China encourages ethnic diversity within the unified socialist nation. China’s policies towards minority arts and the increasing impact of tourism are well illustrated by this Naxi case study. The book also features a music CD with many of the examples discussed in the text.

Helen Rees is an Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Since 1989, she has carried out research on the traditional and tourist-oriented musics of the Naxi ethnic minority and Han ethnic majority of Yunnan Province, southwest China. She is also co-editor of Understanding Charles Seeger, Pioneer in American Musicology (1999).


A God's Own Tale
"It provides a thorough history of the cult of Wenchang, the patron saint of scholars, one of the deities still worshipped by the Chinese in their temples today. The Book of Transformations is a delightful and unqiue autobiography of the god in which he traces his various lives in the world and his various divine appointments. Kleeman's chapter by chapter commentary to the translation is jampacked with information on customs and traditions in traditional China, those of the aristocracy, and those of the common folk. It is also loaded with information on the workings of Chinese folk religion and Buddism and Taoism, and in following the incarnations of Wenchang, the reader learns a good deal along the way about the history of China from early Chou time into the fourth century of the Common Era."

- Robert G. Henricks, Dartmouth College

This scripture was revealed through spirit writing in 1181. It traces Wenchang's development through his many transformations culminating in his apotheosis as director of he Wenchang Palace and custodian of the Cinnamon Record that determines men's and women's fates. The god has since assumed a high position in the Taoist pantheon, has been introduced into the school system and Confucian temples, and now controls the all-important civil service examinations in China.

The text translated here provides a unique window into the religious world of Traditional China. Numerous anecdotes of good- and evil-doers reveal the ethical dilemmas facing men and women of the time, from social questions like infanticide and discrimination against women to more purely religious issues such as how evil gods are punished and how China's divergent religious traditions can be reconciled.

Terry F. Kleeman is Associate Professor of Chinese and Religious Studies, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Colorado at Boulder