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Contents and AbstractsIntroduction: Religion, Ethnicity, and Gender in Dali chapter abstractThe introduction gives an overview of the goddess Baijie's four identities and the book's main themes of religion, ethnicity, and gender. It starts by examining the relationship between deities and society, with a focus on gendered deities, local deities, and deities of the Chinese frontier. It also introduces the Dali region, which it locates both in Zomia, the mountainous, stateless region that covers much of Southeast Asia and southwest China, and in relation to the Chinese state. Baijie's different forms illustrate how people in Dali managed the tensions between their local identities and the increasing proximity of the Chinese state. Finally, the introduction addresses historiographical and methodological issues that arise in studying Dali and concludes with an outline of each chapter. 1Baijie's Background: Religion and Representation in the Nanzhao and Dali Kingdoms chapter abstractChapter one goes back to the Nanzhao (649-903) and Dali kingdoms (937-1253) to understand the broader context in which the Buddhist Baijie arose. It shows that though Nanzhao and Dali rulers adopted most of their Buddhist texts from Chinese territory, they embraced Indian Buddhist images and claimed Indian origins for their Buddhist tradition. Moreover, it was their worship of distinctive deities with Indian iconography that distinguished their Buddhist tradition from that of Tang and Song China. This emphasis on India did not just stem from India's prestige as Buddhism's birthplace, but also from Dali's position in relation to China. While Nanzhao and Dali rulers could not claim equality with Chinese rulers as Sons of Heaven, their relative proximity to India meant that they could claim superiority as Buddhist monarchs. 2Holy Consort White Sister: Baijie Shengfei and Dali Buddhism chapter abstractThe second chapter focuses on the Buddhist Baijie Shengfei, a hybrid figure whose identity combines elements of the Indian goddess Lakmi and local dragon maidens. This chapter demonstrates how her hybridity and gendered characteristics relate to Dali rulers' religious self-representation. It argues that though Baijie Shengfei appears in tantric Buddhist materials as the consort of the wrathful Indian Buddhist protector Mahakala, she herself does not embody the sexuality or violence seen in images of many Indian and Tibetan tantric goddesses. Dali rulers embraced images of fierce tantric masculinity, as shown in Dali-kingdom depictions of Mahakala, but this did not extend to female figures like Baijie. This stemmed from Dali rulers' close interactions with China, in which Dali could exploit stereotypes of martial masculine barbarism to their advantage, but not stereotypes of sexually uninhibited barbarian femininity. 3Little White Sister: Baijie Amei, Dragons, and Kingship in Ming Dali chapter abstractThis chapter examines Baijie's next form, Baijie Amei, which developed in the fifteenth century after the Dali kingdom had become part of the Ming dynasty. Baijie Amei's legend shows how Dali elites drew on Chinese historiographical conventions in formulating a local Bai ethnic identity. According to her legend, Baijie Amei was born from a giant plum and conceived Duan Siping, founder of the Dali kingdom, after touching a dragon. This story mirrors Chinese tales about great rulers that claim dragon paternity, but diverges from Chinese conventions by giving Baijie Amei her own miraculous birth. Chinese officials accepted that male rulers could have miraculous births, but not that their mothers could, too. Baijie Amei remained a powerful symbol for Bai elites in Dali who claimed direct descent from her and worshiped her as a goddess that linked them to the illustrious Bai lineage of Dali's independent history. 4Lady of Cypress Chastity: Baijie Furen in the Ming and Qing chapter abstractAs the Ming dynasty continued and gave way to the Qing, more migrants from th
Megan Bryson is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Tennessee.