International Encyclopaedia
of the Histories of Anthropology

The French missionary Paul Vial (1885-1917), of the Société des Missions étrangères de Paris, lived in China from 1880 until his death. Established in Yunnan province, he was at the origin of an interfaith meeting involving Catholicism and scriptural shamanism practised by insiders from the Tibeto-Burmese Yi-Sani minority. For thirty years he studied their history, religion, customs, language and writing. The publication of a dictionary on the language and (shamanic) writing of the Yi-Sani in 1909 crowned his work. The work of this priest, who is both an ethnographer and “Father of Shamanic Spirits”, is of great importance for the anthropology, history and study of the religions of Yunnan.

Keywords: Ethnography | Christian missions | Missionary | Colonialism | Last quarter of the 19th century | First quarter of the 20th century | Chine | Yunnan | Yi-Sani | Chinese Minority Groups | Religion | Shamanism | Writing

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