Above is a charm carried by a Chinese soldier in 1938, re-printed in the journal Youth Front in 1938. It seems to be a Communist publication, although this being the period of the United Front it is pretty mild in its communism, calling for the unity of all groups and parties in opposing the Japanese. In any case, both the Nationalists and the Communists were, as good children of May 4th, opposed to superstition. The article praises both freedom of religion and the contributions religious groups had made to the war effort.1 Still, given China’s long history of corrupt government and uneven education superstition (presumably meaning religious views that did not count as proper religion) was quite common. Even the Japanese ridiculed these charms.
“It is laughable that they carry these charms, showing not only that they fear death, but how badly they need to die. These charms also show why our brave soldiers kill them so easily.”
Always good to be able to cite an (unnamed) enemy source on topics like this. Of course the charms don’t work and may actually do harm. This one, like most, was to be written on paper, then burned and drunk with water. Charms like this were an old part of Chinese popular religion. The Boxers had ones that would make you immune to bullets. This one reveals something about the anti-Japanese resistance of Chinese soldiers/militia/whoever, as it will make it possible for you to go without eating for ten days. The article says that this is laughable. but I might go with tragic instead.
from 青年战线 No 1, 1938, p.20
- Gregor Benton has a lot of nice stuff on the Communists and religious groups in New Fourth Army [↩]