New Books Network

Sarah Schneewind

Shrines to Living Men in the Ming Political Cosmos

Harvard University Asia Center 2018

New Books in East Asian StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in ReligionNew Books in Religion & Faith May 15, 2020 Sarah Bramao-Ramos

What recourse did you have in Ming China if your very excellent local official was leaving your area and moving on to a new...

What recourse did you have in Ming China if your very excellent local official was leaving your area and moving on to a new jurisdiction? You could try to block his path, you could wail and tear your hair out – or you could house an image of him in a temple, make offerings before it, and create a ‘living shrine.’

In Shrines to Living Men in the Ming Political Cosmos (Harvard University Asia Center, 2018), Sarah Schneewind explores every angle of this practice, covering everything from what living shrines looked like and how many there were, to how they functioned as both expressions of gratitude and (more importantly) ways through which Ming subjects could speak out publicly. Beautifully written and elegantly built, this book not only tells you everything you never knew you wanted to know about living shrines, it makes reading about them a joy.


Sarah Bramao-Ramos is a PhD candidate at Harvard University in the History and East Asian Languages program. She is interested in translation, Manchu books, and anything with a kesike.