This essay has two subjects: the “unity of the Three Teachings” (sanjiao heyi), which is often described as most characteristic of the Chinese religious system; and Mulian drama or Mulianxi, which is the oldest Chinese ritual drama that has been staged for more than nine hundred years since its first recorded performance in the Song dynasty (960–1279). The first concerns questions whether the Three Teachings (Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism) were syncretized into a unitary belief system in premodern China, and the second whether Mulianxi is a syncretic product of the Three Teachings.

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