Ritual, in bearing the intent of perpetual iteratibility, offers the possibility of a veneer of continuity in the face of historical, cultural, and political ruptures. Hence the title of Pamela J. Stewart and Andrew Strathern's volume—Asian Ritual Systems: Syncretisms and Ruptures.

Although the book purports to address ritual systems in Asia, most of the contributors write about the Chinese world of China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong—with one sole exception, which is on Buddhism in India. While the editors have tried to introduce a comparative perspective by interjecting materials from Papua New Guinea in both the introduction and epilogue, the geographic mainstay remains Chinese East Asia.

That said, the contributions to the book are highly eclectic, both in terms of historical time frames and, more importantly, what constitutes ritual. The chapters range from discussions of imperial rituals under Emperor Huizong (r. 1100–1125) of the Northern Song dynasty (960–1127), to Christian...

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