Witch-hunts in Chinese history


Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
Las Vegas, NV USA
Thank you all for the answers.

Do we have any concrete information about massive killing of witches by either the people or the authorities, similar to 15-17th century Europe?
What we are talking about is the killing of women. Just in case it's not clear, there are no such things as witches; only women accused of having non existent supernatural powers.
May 2009
Sorcery and black magic werent really gender-specific in China so there was never any special attention paid to female practitioners. Although there are plenty of folk tales about female ghosts and demons tricking men and leading them to ruin. The whole fox-fairy myth is this kind of story. Im not sure if there were any real life cases of women being accused of being ghosts or fox-fairies, but its possible.

In the 12th century a writer named Hong Mai traveled around China collecting supernatural stories from people. His book (Record of the Listener) is an interesting look into the medieval Chinese mind and what they believed in and feared.
Jan 2016
United States, MO
As Stevapalooza has pointed out. The book Soulstealers is the best one that I know of. What witch hunts require is an easily targeted subpopulation that stands outside of or threatens the status quo. In 18th century China, this ended up being the guanggun (bare branches). Basically there were many poor homeless single men who fled destitute mountain regions and moved into more well off urban centers. They were like migrant workers and many of them became adepts in the buddhist monastic order in an attempt to improve their situation. Vast swathes of poor men roaming around is unbalancing to the status quo and family order so the men were easy scapegoats for all kinds of things and sometimes accusations of sorcery were leveled at them.
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