This chapter narrates the desolation of the Shaolin Temple by the Manchu during the Qing dynasty. In particular, it discusses how a handful of martial monks had escaped to the South of China, where they established a secret society for the purpose of “overthrowing the Qing and restoring the Ming” (fan Qing fu Ming). Flaunting an overtly anti-Manchu ideology, this society had been variously engaged in mutual aid and in criminal activities, which led to repeated armed clashes with the state. The story of Shaolin's downfall and the rebellion of its monks has been variously approached by scholars—some have emphasized its communality with the messianic lore of millenarian sects, while others have highlighted its indebtedness to popular narratives such as Water Margin.
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