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While provisional, it will serve mainly to hint at the riches of Daoist lineages, ritual life, and manuals in this region. Household ritual specialists of both Orthodox Unity and Complete Perfection denominations were common in north China, and remain so today.
Throughout north Shanxi, besides the Li family and other Daoist bands in Yanggao, many other household groups are active. But while Chinese musicologists document Daoist rituals rather well, they tend to blur over social details. Even in north Shanxi the picture is complex. Not until did I find the time to visit them—and I soon realized that household Complete Perfection Daoists might also be common elsewhere. But at least until the s both Complete Perfection and Orthodox Unity Daoists might be either temple- or household-based, and in late imperial times the relation between the two was fluid; often a single lineage contained both temple and household priests, as we see below.
In south China, scholars basically find only household Orthodox Unity Daoists—with some exceptions in Guangdong. And for the latter, as well as the Jiangnan area, we should note the interchange between temple and household Daoists. In north Shanxi, ritual variation is rather slight; with a few minor exceptions, differences appear to be local—and not based on Complete Perfection or Orthodox Unity styles.
Ritual sequences, ritual segments, and the vocal, percussion, and melodic instrumental items within them, all have much in common. I often feel the only clear difference between the two notional branches is in their differently shaped hats, and their lineage names.
Around Shuozhou, as among the Orthodox Unity Daoists further north in Shanxi, the term yinyang is used, but the term daoshi also seems common. As elsewhere in north Shanxi, ritual bands generally have around six or seven members. We have mainly found Daoists in the vicinity of the towns of Shuozhou and Pinglu; no-one has yet suggested any leads in the north of the Shuozhou region, or further to the northwest. Whereas Yanggao county remains poor in industry, today the city of Shuozhou is rather like a mid-west oil town, with wide boulevards.