A World of Their Own, Adeline Herrou

A World of Their Own,
Daoist Monks and Their Community in Contemporary China,
Three Pines Press – 01/2013


Following the fate of a small Daoist community temple, the Wengongci in the town of Hanzhong, Shaanxi, the author examines the structure of the temple, the monastics living in it, its surrounding lay community, and the gods worshiped in its confines. In a second part, she outlines the individual’s path as a Daoist monastic today, from the choice of the religious life through the various forms of training to advanced ordinations and activities in the society. Her third part discusses the greater community of the Dao in terms of pseudo-kinship structures and gender issues. The book is full of amazing detail and reliable, on-the-ground information on the actual practice of Daoism in China today. It speaks both with the voices of the monastics and lay followers themselves as well as from the analytical perspective of the anthropologist. A must for anyone interested in the true face of religiosity and spiritual practice in China today.


Adeline Herrou is a researcher at Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris, France. She grew up in Paris and specializes in Chinese anthropology and Daoist monasticism. She has been active in fieldwork in Shaanxi and Beijing since 1993. He main publication is La vie entre soi. Les moines taoïstes aujourd’hui en Chine (2005), the foundation of this new work.