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Goddess on the FrontierReligion, Ethnicity, and Gender in Southwest China$
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Megan Bryson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780804799546

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804799546.001.0001

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Holy Consort white Sister

Holy Consort white Sister

Baijie Shengfei and Dali Buddhism

(p.51) 2 Holy Consort white Sister
Goddess on the Frontier

Megan Bryson

Stanford University Press

The second chapter focuses on the Buddhist Baijie Shengfei, a hybrid figure whose identity combines elements of the Indian goddess Lakṣmī and local dragon maidens. This chapter demonstrates how her hybridity and gendered characteristics relate to Dali rulers’ religious self-representation. It argues that though Baijie Shengfei appears in tantric Buddhist materials as the consort of the wrathful Indian Buddhist protector Mahākāla, she herself does not embody the sexuality or violence seen in images of many Indian and Tibetan tantric goddesses. Dali rulers embraced images of fierce tantric masculinity, as shown in Dali-kingdom depictions of Mahākāla, but this did not extend to female figures like Baijie. This stemmed from Dali rulers’ close interactions with China, in which Dali could exploit stereotypes of martial masculine barbarism to their advantage, but not stereotypes of sexually uninhibited barbarian femininity.

Keywords:   Baijie Shengfei, Dali kingdom, Buddhism, Mahākāla, gender, hybridity

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