Religions (Jun 2020)

The Cao Đài Deathscape: Reimagining Death, Funerals, and Salvation in Contemporary Vietnam

  • Jérémy Jammes,
  • Shao Zhu Shuai

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 11, no. 6
p. 280


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This article sheds light on the sophisticated funeral process set up by the Cao Đài religion (or Caodaism), combining both a theological and an ethnographical analysis. After introducing how Cao Đài theology represents both the body and the spiritual components of each individual in the specific millenarian conception of existence that characterizes Cao Đài, we trace the ritual process of funerals from the altar and coffin preparation to the collection of prayers and talismanic rituals conveyed to save souls in a Cao Đài manner. Read together, these sources present a genuine project and spirit of reform in the ideas, imaginaries, and practices related to death in Vietnam from the 1920s onwards, crystallizing a specific Cao Đài identity in Vietnamese and also East Asian redemptive societies’ deathscapes.