How Zoroastrians were purged in China

In 12th-century China, there were several temples of Zoroastrianism, which the Chinese called Ao Jiao, left standing in several cities. By then, few people remembered the tenets and origins of the ancient Persian religion, which was first brought into China some 600 years previously by Central Asian traders. To attract foreign merchants, successive Chinese dynasties and govern­ments allowed Zoroastrians to build their temples in cities. Some members of royalty even practised the religion.

The Faravahar, a symbol of the Zoroastrian religion. Picture: SCMP

After Tang dynasty’s Emperor Wuzong’s anti-Buddhism purge (840-846), which extended to other foreign religions as well, the flames of Zoroastrianism dimi­nished in China until mention of it totally disappeared from Chinese texts after the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279).

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