Richard is our website creator and designer.
I met Richard through my wife Frances Wilks . It is sufficient to say that without Richard and his ideas there would be no project. It was Richard who had the idea to do this digitally, and persuade me to access Keith Stevenʼs hard drive from his family enabling us to extract the digital files on the Deities he had documented.
Richard was captivated by the project from the very beginning and agreed to taking it on despite already leading a busy life with so many other activities; a very keen golfer, President and Chief Tournament Director of the Penang Contract Bridge Society, an active full member of the Institution of Chemical Engineers. Richard has had a lifelong interest in Mathematics and Astrophysics. Richard is a strong proponent of the concept of life long learning, having gained a "first" in Astronomy through Distance Learning from UCLAN in 2015 and is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society.
Thank you Richard for your great efforts to this enterprise, for the time and personal energy contributed, and for your friendship. You outlined what could be accomplished after putting into good order the lifetime work of Keith Stevens.
Together we have achieved that target and more.
I owe so much to my wife Frances Wilkes for her continuous support through
this project , encouraging me though ill at the time, to go to Canterbury and acquire the files and notes of Keith Stevens after his passing in 2015. Also for introducing me to Richard Brewer who became the technical”life” and creator of the project.
Also for your love and much needed encouragement to the present day. I am so fortunate.
“Sotong” as he is known to his close friends for his own reasons prefers to remain anonymous.
However, I am unable to proceed without acknowledging his massive assistance to the project from the very beginning.
I have enjoyed many adventures with him visiting Singapore , Malaysian and Indonesian temples.
I owe “Sotong” a huge debt of gratitude. For his wisdom and brotherhood. I will respect his wish not to be mentioned by name, but it must be said his contribution was essential to the completion of the project. Sotong did me another massive favour. He introduced me to Shanghai Taoist master Jingchun
Jingchun is based in Singapore and Shanghai and is better known to many through his blog name Laozhouzhou.
“Laozhouzhou”, is a practising Taoist priest and part time Mandarin teacher. Jingchun gave much of his time in Shanghai during my visit to show my son Adam and I the temples of his city. He is the Project “Sifu”. Whenever an important debate arises regarding identity or history of a particular Deity, he will set the record straight. I am so grateful for his deep knowledge of the deities and willingness to answer my daily stream of questions while setting up project bookofxianshen.
Jingchun continues to be the project expert advisor.
Known to me as Ah Lau and Ah Loon.
I met these two solid friends in the late 1990s. They both liked to attend temple festivals and rituals and were happy to include me on their many trips all over Malaysia.
I have enjoyed their company for over 120 adventures to Melaka, Kuala Kangsar, Kuala Lumpur, Taiping and Ipoh.
Besides this, these two “brothers” introduced me to many temples on Penang island, Lauʼs regular phone calls to continue to give me a heads up on whatever is going on in the world of Templing.
Ah Loonʼs deep knowledge of his culture was a constant source of information to me when I began living in Penang. Lau continues to manage the temple set up by his father, Lian Hua Dian 蓮花殿 venerating Di Ren Jie 狄仁 傑 a famous Tang minister. It is the only one of its kind outside of China. Ah Loon performs the spiritual role at the temple as Ritual Master.
I met Shen U as a technician working with “Switch” an Apple computer outlet in Penang. We eventually became friends after he made several visits to sort out my computer issues.
Over the years Shen U has assisted with my large and ever growing photo archives to a point today they take up 8 gigabytes of space on my hard drives. As I said in my forward Shen U on so many occasions ”saved the day” when there was a technical problem to solve. He saw me through 3 separate computer upgrades to my current desktop iMac. . Without his help my massive photo archives would remain a mess.
I thank Shen U for his contribution to the project not only for the technical accessibility of the images , but introducing me to his friend Soon Kok Wei.
Kok Wei Has only come aboard in the last year, but his contribution as a research assistant has been enormous.
Together we have compiled at least 60 new deity titles for the Deity index. Kok Weiʼs deep knowledge and passion for Chinese history combined with his skills in translating Mandarin text has been extremely helpful to the project.
I had prayed to the gods for such a person, my need so great at that time , and the gods duly complied sending me Soon Kok Wei, via his close friend Goh Shen U. Kok Wei will continue taking care of the Mandarin text used in the project.He is the projects main research assistant.
I met Jave in the early 1990s. He is a practicing Taoist priest willing to share his vast knowledge of Taoist history and legend.
Jave has taught me so much about the Taoist Deities and accompanied me on several journeys to visit temples. It is rare to find someone so young and knowledgeable who is so willing to impart his knowledge to anyone interested.
Jave hosts several websites & blogs about the taoist deities.
Currently this one is still active.
Dean Wang has only very recently come aboard .He is a researcher of Chinese history and the Deities. I thank him for his help in corroborating deity identities, and occasional research assistance for the project.
Jim secured a B.A. in Anthropology from Miami University with minors in Chinese art and Mandarin.
He curated ”Figures in a Garden - The Ideal World in Chinese Art”, an exhibition in 2015. Before he left for Taiwan, he worked for an on-line estate sale auction company.
Jim has produced several papers on Chinese Folk worship topics and maintains several blogs, among which is: "Journey to the West Research". He lives in Taipei , and spends his free time exploring Chinese temples "all over” and researching the rich historical and folk worship traditions of the country.
Jim has already contributed to several Deity biographies on our website, including Zhu Bajie and Qitian Dasheng , ( See Deity Refno 8620 and 5305/ 8900 ), who are among his most favourite deities.
We are delighted that Jim will continue editing and creating new articles for Book of Xian Shen, he is our “ Main Man" in Taipei.
Margaret Chan received her University education in England, gaining her Ph.D. from Royal Holloway, University of London. A fuller listing of her details can be found here.
She is currently Practice Assistant Professor of Theatre/Performance Studies School of Social Sciences
Singapore Management University
Margaret Chan received her PhD in Performance Studies from Royal Holloway, University of London. Her MA (Performance Studies) was awarded with distinction by the Central School of Speech and Drama, London. Margaret was awarded the UK Overseas Research Scholarship and also the Thomas Holloway (Founder) Scholarship to read for her PhD. Margaret also holds a Certificate of Teaching, Higher Education (Distinction) Royal Holloway, University of London. Her first degree was in Business Administration from the University of Singapore
Margaret’s research interest is in the field of Chinese spirit medium worship and Chinese Popular Religion. Her book, Ritual is Theatre, Theatre is Ritual: Chinese Spirit Medium Worship published by the Wee Kim Wee Centre, SMU and SNP Research represents a seminal investigation into the practice of tang-ki spirit medium worship, a signifying cultural practice of the Hokkien people. Although the worship is widespread in the major communities of the Chinese diaspora in Taiwan and South East Asia, the subject has received scant scholarly attention, so that Margaret’s research has contributed to world knowledge in this field. Her research covers Singapore, Fujian in China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.
Margaret is a pioneer of English Language Theatre in Singapore and was a journalist. She is Practice Asst Professor of Theatre/Performance Studies in the School of Social Sciences, and also teaches Creative Thinking for the Lee Kong Chian School of Business at SMU where Creative Thinking is a core module in the SMU curriculum. At SMU, Margaret also teaches Ethnography and Post-Modern Theatre Studies.
Margaret has kindly made her paper on Image Worship in China available on our site.
Thanks to Professor Kenneth Dean for his information on Marshal Tian, and his film “Bored in Heaven” .
We hope that Kenneth Dean will be our guide to the Fuzhou Deities. His magnificent work “The Ritual Alliances of The Putian Plains” is known to most China scholars.
Covid-19 has put a temporary stop to our endeavours to identify the more significant of the Putian deities.
We hope with his help to eventually cover more information on the Fuzhou Deities. Kenneth has very kindly permitted us to list his massive index of Henghwa deities from his Putian Alliances work.
Thanks are due to so many people over the last 40 years who have assisted in my own researches on Chinese deities.
Among these are Victor Yue, Raymond Goh ,Jim Kemp (from the Taoism -Singapore website, and Ah Hui (the medium at Xuan Long Tang , Clarke Quay).
Many others have also contributed to the Book of Xian Shen, we would like to acknowledge a few specific individuals.
Richard Brewer and myself wish to thank the small group of people who responded to our request for feedback on bookofxianshen website. In particular our appreciation goes to Falk and Tara Grunewald from Berlin who took time to make solid technical recommendations to improve the website .
Thanks to Professor Russell Kirkland from University of Georgia for permitting us to list his paper “Taoist sects” which was found in Keith Stevenʼs own files.
Thanks to Sharon Xing my Mandarin Laoshi (teacher) for her warm and friendly but also very adept way of teaching me “Zhongwen”and doing the occasional translating for me.