Chinese Manichaeism

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Chinese icon of Mani depicted on a hanging scroll, 14th/15th century.

Chinese Manichaeism is the form of Manichaeism (摩尼教 Móníjiào or 明教 Míngjiào, "bright religion" or "religion of light") transmitted and practiced in China.

Chinese Manichaeism represents a set of teachings with the purpose of inducing awakening (佛 ), and it is a dualistic religion that believes in the eternal fight between the principles of good/light and evil/darkness, the former being represented by a God known as Shangdi, Míngzūn 明尊 "Radiant Lord" or Zhēnshén 真神 "True God". Salvation is delivered by the Living Spirit (淨活風 Jìnghuófēng) of God, of whom there have been many manifestations in human form, including Mani (摩尼 Móní).[1]


Manichaeism was introduced into China in the Tang dynasty,[2] through Central Asian communities.[2] It never rose to prominence, and was officially banned and persecuted through the suppression of non-Chinese religions started by the Emperor Wuzong of Tang.

Since its introduction, Manichaeism was deeply sinicised in its style, adapting to the Chinese cultural context.[3] After the Tang, Manichaeism survived among the population and had a profound influence on the tradition of the Chinese folk religious sects integrating with the Maitreyan beliefs such as the White Lotus Sect.[4]

Present-day Manichaeism[edit]

Cao'an ("Thatched Hut") in Jinjiang, Quanzhou, Fujian.

In modern China, Manichaean groups are still active in southern provinces, especially in Quanzhou[5] and around the Cao'an, the only Manichaean temple that has survived until today.[6] There is a Chinese Manichaean Council with representatives in Tibet and Beijing.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dr. Char Yar. "Monijiao (Manichaeism) in China". Lecture presented at the Worldwide Conference for Historical Research, 2012.
  2. ^ a b Ma (2011), p. 55-56.
  3. ^ Ma (2011), p. 56.
  4. ^ Ma (2011), p. 19-56.
  5. ^ Jennifer Marie Dan. Manichaeism and its Spread into China. University of Tennessee, 2002. pp. 17-18
  6. ^ Wearring (2006), p. 260.


  • Wearring, Andrew (2006). "Manichaean Studies in the 21st Century". Through a Glass Darkly: Reflections on the Sacred. Sydney University Press. ISSN 1444-5158.
  • Ma, Xisha; Huiying Meng (2011). Popular Religion and Shamanism. Brill. ISBN 9004174559.

External links[edit]