Selected References for Further Research 


Andrew Chittick, “Competitive Spectacle in the Northern and Southern Dynasties – with particular emphasis on ‘dragon’ boat racing,” Asia Major Third Series v.23 pt. 1 (spring 2010): 65-85. This article offers a more detailed look at the development of sport and spectacle in the period from the Han to the Tang empires.

Andrew Chittick, “The Song Imperial Navy and the Origins of Dragon Boat Racing,” Journal of Song-Yuan Studies, forthcoming. This article lays out a fuller argument for the evolution of jingdu boat racing into dragon boat racing as a result of the influence of the Song imperial

Andrew Chittick, “The Transformation of Naval Warfare in Early Medieval China: The Role of Light Fast Boats,” Journal of Asian History 44.2 (2010): 128-150.  Lays out the development of medieval naval warfare in more detail, including a discussion of the development of jingdu boat races.

David Hawkes (tr.): Ch'u tz'ŭ, the songs of the south: an ancient Chinese anthology (Penguin Classics, 2011). A complete translation of the poetry collection attributed to Qu Yuan.

Paul R. Katz, Demon Hordes and Burning Boats: The Cult of Marshal Wen in Late Imperial Chekiang (Albany NY: State University of New York Press, 1995). This study, though not primarily about dragon boats, has a good deal about the development of plague-expulsion cults, with references to boat-based rituals and the Duanwu festival.

Richard Rudolph, “Boat Models from Early Chinese Tombs,” American Journal of Archaeology vol. 78, No. 1 (Jan 1974): 65-68 (with pictures).  A very brief account of some archaeological discoveries of boat models, including the boat model pictured in the section on "Dragon Boat History."

Laurence Schneider, A Madman of Ch’u: The Chinese Myth of Loyalty and Dissent (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980).  A detailed and very worthwhile study of the history the Qu Yuan legend and its political significance, though the explanation of Qu Yuan’s connection with boat racing is based on outdated scholarship.

Richard Von Glahn, The Sinister Way: The Divine and the Demonic in Chinese Religious Culture (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004). The opening chapters of this book offer an excellent discussion of plague demons and spirit armies and their role in the early development of Chinese religious beliefs. 

About the Author 

Andrew Chittick is the E. Leslie Peter Professor of East Asian Humanities & History at Eckerd College, an independent national liberal arts college in St. Petersburg, Florida. He has been researching the origins and development of boat racing in China since 2003, and began publishing on it in 2010. His primary research is in the social, political, and military history of the medieval southern dynasties (5th-6th century CE); his first book, Patronage and Community in Medieval China: The Xiangyang Garrison 400-600 CE, was published by SUNY Press in 2010. In 2011 he launched a project to research traditional dragon boat racing practices in contemporary China. If you have information, photos, or video of traditional races in China or elsewhere in Asia, or have any other questions, please contact him at dragonboathistory@gmail.com.

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