Museum of Chinese Art and Ethnography Xaverian Missionaries - V.le S. Martino, 8 - Parma, Italy 0521-257.337

Popular Religion


Maloa (Prayer necklace)
Maloa - Prayer necklace, 20th century

While Chinese ceramics, painting and calligraphy give a picture of the cultural, political, social and economic climate which impacted the varied eras and their development, the images of popular devotion - well represented in our Museum - express the wisdom of the people who have produced them. These images show a conception of the world, with its cultural context, feelings and ideas, which we westerners call religion or religiosity.

Alongside the religious beliefs and practices taught by the great religions (Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism), China has always seen expressions of "popular religiosity" with a large assortment of customs, deities, or god-like historical figures.

The museum's collection documents various images of popular iconography, such as the Guanyin: in a porcelain statue, it is shown with the characteristic lotus flower; one wooden statue depicts the Guanyin as the "bestower of children"; another as the Guanyin "with basket of fish".

Guangdi (or Guanyu), venerated by the Taoist tradition, is another example of an image of popular religion.


Popular Religion