Disease Perception and Social Order in Yi Traditional Ritual Therapy

The Case of the Hongyi Branch in DaShuiGou, Maojie, China


  • ChunXiang Lei Xinyang Normal University
  • Yang Chao University of Sydney




Understanding Disease, Ritual Therapy, Purity, Bodily Experience, Social Order


Perspectives of the Yunnan Hongyi towards disease are closely related to their religion and culture. In the culture of the Hongyi, the causes of diseases are categorized into three factors: the soul; the ghost; and uncleansed (object/s). Whenever their people are feeling unwell, they will perform rituals to cure their illness. They have three different ritual therapies: namely, change of soul ritual; farewell to ghost ritual; and the Tutou ritual, each corresponding to the three factors causing illness. Through the performance space and ritual habits of these three healing rituals, the Hongyi achieve the purity and integrity of humans, integrating their view of various medical systems and their religious world via bodily experience, reorganizing the relationship between human and supernatural forces, and ultimately returning to the social order.


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Author Biographies

  • ChunXiang Lei , Xinyang Normal University

    ChunXiang Lei is a Lecturer in Sociology at Xinyang Normal University, China. Her research fields focus on ethnology, medical anthropology, and religious anthropology in Southwest China.

  • Yang Chao, University of Sydney

    Yang Chao is an undergraduate student enrolled in the Faculty of Science at the University of Sydney, Australia.


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How to Cite

Lei , C., & Chao, Y. (2023). Disease Perception and Social Order in Yi Traditional Ritual Therapy: The Case of the Hongyi Branch in DaShuiGou, Maojie, China. Fieldwork in Religion, 18(2), 217–235. https://doi.org/10.1558/firn.26573