By Philip A. Kuhn
Midway throughout the reign of the Ch'ien-lung emperor, Hungli, within the so much wealthy interval of China's final imperial dynasty, mass hysteria broke out one of the universal humans. It was once feared that sorcerers have been roaming the land, clipping off the ends of men's queues (the braids worn through royal decree), and chanting magical incantations over them with the intention to scouse borrow the souls in their vendors. In a desirable chronicle of this epidemic of worry and the reliable prosecution of soulstealers that ensued, Philip Kuhn offers an intimate glimpse into the area of eighteenth-century China.
Kuhn weaves his exploration of the sorcery circumstances with a survey of the social and monetary background of the period. Drawing on a wealthy repository of records present in the imperial files, he provides intimately the harrowing interrogations of the accused--a ragtag collection of vagabonds, beggars, and roving clergy--conducted less than torture by means of provincial magistrates. In tracing the panic's unfold from peasant hut to imperial court docket, Kuhn unmasks the political risk lurking in the back of the queue-clipping scare in addition to the complicated of folks ideals that lay underneath renowned fears of sorcery.
Kuhn indicates how the crusade opposed to sorcery offers perception into the period's social constitution and ethnic tensions, the connection among monarch and bureaucrat, and the interior workings of the nation. no matter what its meant reasons, the writer argues, the crusade provided Hungli a most appropriate probability to strength his provincial chiefs to crack down on neighborhood officers, to augment his own supremacy over most sensible bureaucrats, and to restate the norms of authentic behavior.
This wide-ranging narrative depicts lifestyles in imperial China because it was once really lived, usually within the individuals' personal phrases. Soulstealers deals a compelling portrait of the chinese language people--from peasant to emperor--and of the human condition.