In this study of early medieval Daoist fasting, Shawn Arthur argues that early medieval Daoism was a hybrid of medical and religious thought and practice, and introduces modern Daoist practice and non-Chinese practices for studying early Chinese scriptures. Arthur's innovative methods to describe the role of diets in Daoist practice combine sinology, anthropology, nutritional science, and evolutionary biology.

The primary focus of Early Daoist Dietary Practices is the second volume (juan) of the three-juan Lingbao wufu xu (Array of the five numinous treasure talismans), part of the fifth-century Lingbao (Numinous treasure) corpus. There are seven chapters and an introduction and conclusion. Four appendices include lists of recipe titles, purported effects of the drugs, names of single ingredients, and a selection of recipe translations. Arthur uses an impressive breadth of English-language secondary sources, but few Chinese- or Japanese-language studies.

The exclusive focus on herbal formulas in this juan...

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