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Article

The Cult of the Underworld in Singapore: Mythology and Materiality

Department of Chinese Studies, National University of Singapore, Singapore 119260, Singapore
Religions 2020, 11(7), 363; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11070363
Received: 27 May 2020 / Revised: 10 July 2020 / Accepted: 13 July 2020 / Published: 17 July 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Chinese Temples and Rituals in Southeast Asia)
Myths provide hagiographic and iconographic accounts of the gods, which shape rituals that are performed in cults associated with these gods. In the realization of iconographies and ritualization of narratives in myths, material objects play an active role. This article examines the pattern of worship in the cult of the Ah Pehs, a group of Underworld gods whose efficacy lies in the promise of occult wealth, and focuses on the material aspects such as offerings and paraphernalia associated with these gods. Though ritual texts and scriptures are absent in the Ah Peh cult, symbols in the form of material objects play a crucial role. These objects are also considered as synecdoche for the gods in certain cases. The first part of this paper presents a case study of the autonomous ritual of “Burning Prosperity Money”, which reveals the cycle of occult exchange between gods and devotees. The second part involves an imagery analysis of the material objects central to the cult, and argues that in the system of reciprocity with the gods, material objects common to the everyday life are reinterpreted and enchanted with a capitalist turn, resulting in the development of occult economies within the local Chinese religious sphere. View Full-Text
Keywords: Underworld gods; Ah Peh; materiality; mythology; occult economy Underworld gods; Ah Peh; materiality; mythology; occult economy
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MDPI and ACS Style

Wang, D.K.L. The Cult of the Underworld in Singapore: Mythology and Materiality. Religions 2020, 11, 363. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11070363

AMA Style

Wang DKL. The Cult of the Underworld in Singapore: Mythology and Materiality. Religions. 2020; 11(7):363. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11070363

Chicago/Turabian Style

Wang, Dean K.L. 2020. "The Cult of the Underworld in Singapore: Mythology and Materiality" Religions 11, no. 7: 363. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11070363

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