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Taijitu symbols are used in Faist traditions.
A folk Taoist ritual master in China.

Faism (Chinese: 法教; pinyin: Fǎjiào; literally: "religion of the rites"),[1][2] also Folk Taoism (Chinese: 民间道教; pinyin: Mínjiàn Dàojiào), also called Redhead Taoism or Redhat Taoism, defines a large group of Chinese orders of religious ritual mastery occupying the boundary line between Zhengyi Taoism and the Chinese folk religion.[3] The "masters of rites", the fashi (法師), are also known as hongtou daoshi (紅頭道士), meaning "redhead" or "redhat" daoshi ("masters of the Tao"), contrasting with the wutou daoshi (烏頭道士), "blackhead" or "blackhat" priests, of Zhengyi Taoism that were historically ordained by the Celestial Master.[3]

Zhengyi Taoism and Faism are often grouped together under the category of "daoshi and fashi ritual traditions" (道法二門道壇). Although the two types of priests have the same roles in Chinese society—in that they can marry and they perform rituals for communities' temples or private homes—Zhengyi daoshi emphasize their Taoist tradition, distinguished from the more vernacular tradition of the fashi.[3][4]

Faist priests are practitioners of tongji possession, healing, exorcism and jiao rituals[5] (although historically they were excluded from performing the jiao liturgy[3]). They aren't shamans (wu), with the exception of the fashi of the Lushan school.[5]


Lushan Faism[edit]

The Lushan (Mount Lu) school of Faism (Chinese: 閭山法教; pinyin: Lǘshān Fǎjiào), also known as Sannaism (pinyin: Sannaijiao; literally: "religion of the Three Ladies", is present in Fujian, southern Zhejiang and Taiwan.[6] It is very active nowadays, and is related to the worship of the goddess Chen Jinggu or Lady Linshui, who is very popular in the same area.[6] It is also related to the Wang Laomu religion, and competing with Maoshan Taoism.[6]

The tradition shows similarities with Yao and Zhuang ritual traditions, and has incorporated elements of Tantra, such as the use of mudra and vajra.[6] Lushan fashi perform rituals as the head of celestial troops while invoking the "Three Ladies" (sannai): Chen Jinggu and her two disciples, Lin Jiuniang and Li Sanniang. Although Lushan fashi are men, in performance they wear the ritual red skirt of Chen Jinggu and a crown or headdress with the words "Three Ladies" painted on it.[6] Lushan fashi also practice a shamanic voyage rite called "crossing the roads and the passes" (guo luguan).[6]

Pu'an Faism[edit]

The Pu'an school (Chinese: 普唵派; pinyin: Pǔǎn pài) is present in west-central Fujian and southern Jiangxi.[7] The historical figure of the monk Pu’an is worshipped by the practitioners as their "founding master" (zushi).[7] Their texts, rituals and iconography incorporate Tantric themes adapted in a Taoist style, and have elements of the Zhengyi and Lushan traditions.[7]

Xujia Faism[edit]

The Xujia school (Chinese: 徐甲派; pinyin: Xújiǎ pài) is another form of Faism.[2]

See also[edit]


  • Taiwan Folk Religion Society. Faism and Folk Religion 2009, 法教與民俗信仰學術研討會論文集 2009. 文津, Tai bei shi : Wen jin, 2011.09. ISBN 9789576689451
  • Yu-chi Tsao. On Ritual of Pu-An Fa-Jiao (普唵法教): The Case Study of Hexuan Taoist Altar in Tainan. Graduate Institute of Religious Studies, 2012.
  • John Lagerwey. China: A Religious State. Hong Kong, University of Hong Kong Press, 2010. ISBN 9888028049
  • John Lagerway. Popular Ritual Specialists in West Central Fujian. Shehui, minzu yu wenhua zhanyan guoji yantao hui lunwen ji. Taipei: Hanxue yanjiu zhongxin. 435–507. 2001
  • Edward L. Davis. Encyclopedia of Contemporary Chinese Culture. Routledge, 2005. ISBN 0415241294
  • The Lady Linshui: How a Woman Became a Goddess. In: R. Weller and M. Shahar (eds). Unruly Gods. Divinity and Society in China. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i. 1996
  • Lushan Puppet Theatre in Fujian. In: Daniel L. Overmyer (ed.). Ethnography in China Today: A Critical Assessment of Methods and Results. Taipei: Yuan-liou, 243–56. 2002
  • Julian F. Pas. Historical Dictionary of Taoism. Part of: Historical Dictionaries of Religions, Philosophies, and Movements Series. Scarecrow Press, 2014. ASIN: B00IZ9E7EI


  1. ^ Faism and Folk Religion 2009.
  2. ^ a b Yu-chi Tsao, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d Pas, 2014. p. 259
  4. ^ Edward L. Davis. Encyclopedia of Contemporary Chinese Culture. ¶ Daoism (Zhengyi tradition)
  5. ^ a b Lagerway, 2010.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Edward L. Davis. Encyclopedia of Contemporary Chinese Culture. ¶ Lüshan jiao (Sannai jiao)
  7. ^ a b c Edward L. Davis. Encyclopedia of Contemporary Chinese Culture. ¶ Pu’an jiao

External links[edit]