By Philip A. Kuhn
Halfway 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 a view to thieve the souls in their vendors. In a desirable chronicle of this epidemic of worry and the legitimate prosecution of soulstealers that ensued, Philip Kuhn presents an intimate glimpse into the realm of eighteenth-century China.
Kuhn weaves his exploration of the sorcery instances with a survey of the social and monetary heritage of the period. Drawing on a wealthy repository of files present in the imperial data, he offers 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 courtroom, Kuhn unmasks the political threat lurking in the back of the queue-clipping scare in addition to the advanced of people ideals that lay underneath renowned fears of sorcery.
Kuhn exhibits how the crusade opposed to sorcery presents perception into the period's social constitution and ethnic tensions, the connection among monarch and bureaucrat, and the interior workings of the kingdom. no matter what its meant reasons, the writer argues, the crusade provided Hungli a correct probability to strength his provincial chiefs to crack down on neighborhood officers, to augment his own supremacy over best bureaucrats, and to restate the norms of reliable habit.