Thriving under an anti-superstition regime : the dragon mother cult in Yuecheng, Guangdong, during the 1930s

Shuk Wah POON

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)


China’s quest for modernity since the early twentieth century has put popular religion in a vulnerable situation. A large number of temples were demolished or converted for other purposes in the Republican period as a result of the campaigns against "superstition." Interestingly, during the 1930s, the popularity of the "ancestral temple" of the Dragon Mother (Longmu) located on the northern bank of the West River in Guangdong did not merely continue but flourished. This article explains the various factors that helped promote the expansion of the Dragon Mother cult, including the inconsistencies in government policies towards popular religion, the importance of the annual pilgrimage to the Dragon Mother for the regional economy and government revenue, and the development of the modern means of transportation. The concluding part examines the importance of this case study in rethinking the issue of rural-urban divide in Republican China.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-58
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Chinese Religions
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015



  • Dragon mother
  • Guangdong
  • Pilgrimage
  • Republican China
  • West river
  • Yuecheng

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