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A Galaxy of Immortal Women: The Yin Side of Chinese Civilization Paperback – May 8, 2012

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Exterminating Angel Press (May 8, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935259148
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935259145
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,268,923 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


ForeWord Reviews Mother’s Day Staff Pick: “Books Mom Will Love”

“Written in a readable first person and presented in textbook format with chapter subheads, this catalogue of goddesses ranges from the dawn of creation and the half-snake goddess Nü Wa, to 20th century heroines such as Deng Yingchao, wife of Zhou Enlai. In addition to serving as a valuable historical reference guide, Griffith’s study sheds light on the evolution of women’s roles in Chinese society.” —Publishers Weekly

“To read through this compendium of female icons in the Chinese culture is to appreciate the ebb and flow of the changing Chinese environment across the thousands of years and especially to appreciate the role women have played in such a changing culture.” —New York Journal of Books

From the Back Cover

"This is a very ambitious and timely book, a book that many historians, literary theorists and story tellers who care about China and its "Other Half of the Sky" want to write, but Brian Griffith did it first, with such scope, ease and fun."   
--WANG PING, author of The Last Communist Virgin and Aching for Beauty: Footbinding in China
"This book is a most engaging and entertaining read, and the depth of its scholarship is astounding. Griffith vividly describes the counterculture of Chinese goddesses, shows that their fascinating stories are alive and active today, and points us toward a more inclusive and caring partnership future."      
--RIANE EISLER, author of The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics and The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future
"It is a great pleasure to read A Galaxy of Immortal Women: The Yin Side of Chinese Civilization--especially to know that our book was its author's inspiration. Now a wonderful book on the same subject appears that should be an added treasure for our audience. I really hope,by virtue of this book, that the yin side of Chinese civilization will be fully known by, and bring blessing to, the world."      
-- MIN JIAYIN, Editor-in-Chief of The Chalice & The Blade in Chinese Culture, by The Chinese Partnership Research Group

More About the Author

Brian Griffith is an independent historian who's interested in culture wars and cultural creativity. So far he's written four books. The Gardens of Their Dreams: Desertification and Culture in World History examines how environmental degradation has affected society across the center of the Old World from ancient times forward. Correcting Jesus: 2000 Years of Changing the Story and Different Visions of Love: Partnership and Dominator Cultures in Christian History reflect on the culture wars that have raged within Christianity from the religion's beginning down to the present. A Galaxy of Immortal Women: The Yin Side of Chinese Civilization explores the alternative traditions and religions of Chinese women, which offer the world a powerful vision for partnership, health, and spirituality. He lives in a multicultural marriage in the multicultural hub of Toronto.

Customer Reviews

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A Galaxy of Immortal Women: The Yin Side of Chinese Civilization was an entertaining read with lots of history.
Kimberly Burnham
It is so solidly researched and written and so accessible to the lay public (and to scholars as well) that it deserves a very wide reading audience.
Grady Harp
This is the kind of book that should be required reading for college courses on Chinese history/civilization as well as women's studies.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By COSMIC TRAVELER on December 19, 2012
Format: Paperback
Chinese Women is not, as I imagined from the title, a book full of simple legends about women of great skills or accomplishments from Chinese fairy tales. Rather this is a marvelous book about the other side of Chinese culture - the feminine polarity in Chinese history. Although the Chinese culture that is so familiar today seems to be male-dominated, the author introduces the reader to an undercurrent of feminine wisdom and strength that supports the society.

Brian Griffith, author of Chinese Women, introduces us to the idea of female leadership in the dimly lit past of Chinese history through snippets of folklore and myth; especially regarding powerful women, immortalized over time as goddesses. Griffith tells us of the legend or the memory, of a time when people lived together without the need for what we think of today as `power. They simply accepted leadership from the people (male or female) who were best equipped (by virtue of their natural capabilities) to provide guidance and direction for the group.

Griffith dips in and out of Chinese history and legends, quoting illustrative snippets of text from ancient historians and writers (i.e. the Songs of Chu from around 300 BCE and an inscription on Shang dynasty oracle bones from around 1300 BCE.) Griffith doesn't limit his research to ancient texts, however. He searches for insight, and provides many more snippets quoted from such modern day scholarly writers as Joan Judge, (The Precious Raft of History: The Past, The West, and the Woman Question in China, 2008) and Chang Mo-chun, (Opposition to Footbinding, 1992).

Chinese Women manages to be entertaining and easy to read, and yet be quite impressive in terms of the scholarly work, and its breadth historical insight. Griffith displays his remarkable ability to translate not Chinese words, but a Chinese subcultural mindset that exists beneath the male-dominated and more accessible historical records.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Joseph S. Maresca HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on August 18, 2012
Format: Paperback
A Galaxy of Immortal Women-The Yin Side of Chinese Civilization
by Brian Griffith is an informative book on the plethora of
immortal women who made contributions to virtually every area
of Chinese life over the centuries. Griffith documents goddess
figures from prehistoric times, famous heroines of resistance
movements, enlightened immortals, spiritual heroins and
superwomen of the people.

Griffith presents famous women deity. For example, the greatest
deity in China is Kuan Yin who is the goddess of universal
compassion. Chen Jinggu lead a band of sworn sisters who were
known as the fighting shamanesses. Lo Shen is a mythical
spirit of nature. Feng Bo Bo represents the primordial forces
of winds and storms. Shin Mu is the holy mother of perfect intelligence.

Confucious spoke of a Golden Age where the land would be
green with hillside forests, languid ponds and sparkling
fresh beaches. The author explains Confucian legends; whereby,
the primordial father-figures exuded virtues like compassion
and generosity. The Confucianists presented idealized pictures
of their ancestors. Examples of famous Buddhist and Daoist
Masters include Mazu, Chen Jinggu, Yeshe Tsogyal,Xie Xiran
and Zu Shu.

Ma Tsu is a famous goddess who saved men at sea. She saved
people in her dreams and was a boat woman on the coast of Fujian.
Later, great temples were erected to Ma Tsu or Mazu. Today,
she is worshiped by over a hundred million people on the
southern coasts of China and Taiwan.

In popular folklore, the Double Seven Festival is a feast day
for women according to Griffith.
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
In Brian Griffith's A GALAXY OF IMMORTAL WOMEN: THE YIN SIDE OF CHINESE CIVILIZATION there is more finely research data and information not only about Chinese culture from its recorded beginnings (and that is as extensive as anyone could imagine!) from 2100 BCE to the present, but there is also a wealth of information about the extraordinary importance of the role of women in Chinese civilization that dates back to its beginning and about which few of us has any concept. Griffith has not only done his homework, he is also on a mission in this book to bring to the world's attention those near secret facts (to Western civilization) of the importance of the Chinese goddesses that are connected to every aspect of living, including the presence of religions that are as mighty as Confucianism that has been at China's core for so long. His text is accompanied by maps, datelines, timelines of the development of Chinese history - a most important, a gift for writing in a style that makes this significant book read like a novel. Griffith does not preach, he illuminates, and his technique is to incorporate a good deal of humor and fascinating asides that keep the reader glued to this tome that in other hands might become didactic ennui.Read more ›
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