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Religions in China - Zoroastrianism

While the two other "Persian" religions, Nestorianism and Manicheism are Christian or have at least a Christian base, Zoroastrianism (Zoroastrism, Parsism, Mazdaism, in Chinese xianjiao 祆教) is a pure Persian religion that has influenced Manicheism and Buddhism - at least in the belief in the Amitabha Buddha, the Light Buddha. The believers of Zoroastrianism are called Mazdayasnians because they venerate the highest deity Ahura Mazda. The founder of this dualistic religion was Zarathustra who lived around 1000 BC in Persia and wrote his religious chants in the language of Zend-Avesta, an old form of Persian. Creator of the world is the already mentioned Ahura Mazda, his counterpart is the deity Angra Mainyu who is the incorporation of dark and evil. This cosmic dualism is linked by ethics and the spiritual-mental world to the material world of man. All life and thought is thus acting in a state of everlasting fight of bad against evil. A further central point of Zoroastrianism is the tendency to a kind of eschatology that purposes the coming of the last judgement and physical resurrection. The pantheon of Zoroastrianism comprises angels and demons ("devils") like Mithras, a belief that influenced late Judaism and Christianity. The dualism of bad and evil that is reflected in the teachings of Mani, the founder of Manicheism, as well as in Buddhist teachings of heavens and hells, originates in the Persian dualism of the two gods Hormuzd and Ahriman.
The fire was a symbol for the good, for the light, and Parsians were called fire worshippers, a name that was also used by the Chinese (baihuojiao 拜火教, huoxianjiao 火祆教). During the Southern and Northern Dynasties, Zoroastrianism founded its roots in the city states of the Silkroad. During the Northern Qi Dynasty (6th century) a court of dependencies (honglusi 鴻臚寺) was installed that served as embassy of Persia. The embassadors also administrated the Zoroastrian parishes (safu 薩甫) in China. The central administration of Zoroastrians was undertaken by an office called sabaofu 薩寶府. The spread of Zoroastrianism by missionaries was prohibited, and in the years from 841 on all foreign religions were prohibited, and although some parishes could survive until the Song period Zoroastrianism soon lost its ground and vanished.



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