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Chinese Buddhist millenarian movement that was often persecuted because of its association with rebellion. The movement had roots in 4th-century worship of the Buddha Amitabha, whose devotional cult inspired Mao Ziyuan to form the White Lotus Society, a pious vegetarian group of monks and laity. By the 14th century it had developed into a millenarian sect that combined Maitreyan and Manichaean beliefs and was active in rebellions at the end of the Yuan dynasty. The society became most prominent through its role in the White Lotus Rebellion (1786–1804), a large-scale uprising in central China that contributed to the fall of the Qing dynasty. It was eventually put down by peasants organized into local militia defense corps. Later Chinese governments came to use the term White Lotus for all illegal millenarian groups. Some observers saw the Nian Rebellion of 1852 as well as the secret society behind the Boxer Rebellion as new manifestations of the White Lotus Society.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on White Lotus, visit Britannica.com.
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