Ritual Is Theatre, Theatre Is Ritual; Tang-Ki: Chinese Spirit Medium Worship


Margaret Chan
2001. SNP International
Softcover. 22.5cm x 15.5cm, 184 pages
19+ pages of colour photograph
ISBN: 9789812481153

Product Description

Tang-ki worship or spirit mediumship has its roots in pre-Chinese animism of more than 5000 years ago, but its practice is alive and evolving within the Hokkien communities of Taiwan and Southeast Asia. Little academic documentation has been written about Tang-Ki rituals, which use self-multilation and theatrical performances to temporary encompasses the body of gods.

This phenomenon has received scant scholarly attention largely because it is seen by the educated as a mere superstitious practice. There are no sacred texts, nor canons, nor dogmas in tang-ki worship. Margaret Chan’s book not only includes thorough research written in a lyrical way, but full color photos of worshippers in practice. Provocative and theatrical, this book is only for the strong-willed and curious.

The author also discusses the social dynamics of tang-ki worship as a communal theatre and provides a provocative hypothesis on the religious nature of traditional Chinese theatre forms. It is held that the very act of taking on an image by an actor in theatre is a transmogrifying ritual where a mortal transforms into a god.  This book will be of interest to the general reader and the specialist alike.

Table of Contents




The Origin of Tang-ki Worship

Mythology as Dramatic Canon

Costumes, Make-up and Props of Tang-ki Worship

The Tang-ki as Cosmic Actor

Performance Training and Ritual Scripts

Tang-ki Worship as Theatre of Pain

Tang-ki Worship as Communal Theatre

The Magic of Theatre

Conclusion: Tang-ki Worship Today



Calender of Taoist Events in Singapore, 2005

Eras in Chinese History with Tang-ki Highlights




About the Author

Margaret Chan holds a PhD (Royal Holloway, University of London) and an MA (Distinction) (Central School of Speech and Drama, London) in Performance Studies (Theatre Anthropology. She has a Certificate of Teaching, Higher Education (Distinction) (Royal Holloway, University of London. Her first degree was that of Bachelor of Business Administration (University of Singapore).

Chan held the Overseas Research Students Award, U.K., 1999-2002 and the Thomas Holloway (Royal Holloway, Founder’s Scholarship), 1998-2002.

Additional Information

Weight 550 g
Dimensions 22.5 x 15.5 x 1.5 cm