Presenting a thorough examination of the sacred forests of Asia, this volume engages with dynamic new scholarly dialogues on the nature of sacred space, place, landscape, and ecology in the context of the sharply contested ideas of the Anthropocene.

Given the vast geographic range of sacred groves in Asia, this volume discusses the diversity of associated cosmologies, ecologies, traditional local resource management practices, and environmental governance systems developed during the pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial periods. Adopting theoretical perspectives from political ecology, the book views ecology and polity as constitutive elements interacting within local, regional, and global networks. Readers will find the very first systematic comparative analysis of sacred forests that include the karchall mabhuy of the Katu people of Central Vietnam, the leuweng kolot of the Baduy people of West Java, the fengshui forests of southern China, the groves to the goddess Sarna Mata worshiped by the Oraon people of Jharkhand India, the mauelsoop and bibosoop of Korea, and many more. Comprising in-depth, field-based case studies, each chapter shows how the forest’s sacrality must not be conceptually delinked from its roles in common property regimes, resource security, spiritual matters of ultimate concern, and cultural identity.

This volume will be of great interest to students and scholars of indigenous studies, environmental anthropology, political ecology, geography, religion and heritage, nature conservation, environmental protection, and Asian studies.

chapter |10 pages


Forests, Rivers, and Civilizations—The Oikos, Polis, and Cosmos of Asia's Sacred Groves

part 1|93 pages

South Asia

chapter 2|14 pages

“Come Let Us All Play”

Sacred Groves, Sarna, and “Green” Politics in Jharkhand, India

chapter 3|14 pages

Forest Gods and Forest Conservation

Local Perceptions of Village Sacred Forests in the Bhimashankar Region, Western India

chapter 5|11 pages

Muslim Graveyard Groves

Plant Diversity, Ecosystem Services, and Species Conservation in Northwest Pakistan

part 2|81 pages

East Asia

chapter 7|17 pages

China's Fengshui Forests

The Fate of Lineage Wind-Water Polities Under Ecological Civilization

chapter 8|14 pages

Korea's Sacred Groves—The Maeulsoop

Forest Types, Ecosystem Services, and Current Distribution

chapter 9|19 pages

Utaki and Ashagi Sacred Forests in the Ryukyu Islands

Vegetation Structure and Conservation Management Challenges

part 3|107 pages

Southeast Asia

chapter 11|14 pages

Stories of the Trees

Understanding Traditions and Transitions in the Katu Peoples' Perceptions of Forests in Central Vietnam

chapter 12|14 pages

The Katu Spirit Landscape

Forests, Ecology, and Cosmology in the Central Annamites

part 4|15 pages

Asian Sacred Forests in Global Perspective

chapter |13 pages

Conclusions and Preludes

The Many Lives of Sacred Forests