The Influence of Religion on Family
in China’s Northern Dynasties (Bei Chao)

by SHAO Zhengkun
March 9, 2011

The penetration of Buddhism and Daoism into the family of all social classes began in Northern Dynasties (Bei Chao BC.386~581), when both religions was witnessing an unprecedented development. This penetration made it possible for religions to be practiced by common people as their spiritual sustenance rather than as obscured theological and philosophical discussions among merely a few. This is an unusual development in the history of ancient China, given the fact that religion had never been so deeply embedded in the family life of common people. The religious revival emerging within families, as showed by many historical evidences, had in turn exerted profound impact on the family structure in China of Northern Dynasties. With that in mind, this lecture attempts to discuss how that change occurs, and what impacts it has on families in Northern Dynasties.

SHAO Zhengkun is an associate professor in the Research Center for Ancient Chinese Text in Jilin University and is now a visiting scholar in the Center on Religion and Chinese Society.