• Official Chinese historiography contains valuable information on local resistance to the centralised empire in early medieval China (3rd–6th cent.). Sinologists specialised in the study of Chinese religions commonly reconstruct the religious history of the era by interpreting some of these data. In the process, however, the primary purpose of the historiography of local resistance is often overlooked, and historical interpretation easily becomes ‘overinterpretation’—that is, ‘fabricating false intensity’ and ‘seeing intensity everywhere’, as French historian Paul Veyne proposed to define the term. Focusing on a cluster of historical anecdotes collected in the standard histories of the four centuries under consideration, this study discusses the interpretation of the some of the supposedly ‘religious’ data they contain.