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Images figure prominently in the first extant text dedicated to the Mountain of Five Plateaus (Wutai shan 五臺山): Huixiang’s 慧祥 (seventh-century) Ancient Chronicle of Mount Clear and Cool (Gu Qingliang zhuan 古清涼傳). In addition to renderings of Mañjuśrī, the central chapters of this two-folio work mention statues of Maitreya, Śākyamuni, and Samantabhadra housed in temples, stūpas, and a cavern at the emerging center of Buddhist activity. The total absence of Buddhist statues from the Ancient Chronicle’s little-studied fifth and final chapter is thus striking. Exploring the narratives compiled in the “Miscellaneous Accounts of Branches and Tributaries” (Zhiliu/zashu 支流) chapter I will consider what the absence of images (as well as monastics and Mañjuśrī) from these materials suggests about regional religious life during the period. I will also consider how these records teach us about the roles that images played in the textual construction of mountains as Buddhist sites in medieval East Asia more generally.
The early eighth-century Chinese Buddhist apocryphal scripture known as Lengyan jing or Śūraṃgama sutra contains some vivid and lengthy descriptions of demonic states that may arise for the practitioner in deep states of meditation. In some of these states, the practitioner is said to experience profound mis-perceptions of reality that are said to correspond to the teachings of named non-Buddhist individuals or schools in India. References to Jains or Nirgranthas abound in Chinese Buddhist literature, and the Jains are frequent targets of religious polemic, but other, more obscure, ascetic traditions are also the topic of lively discussion for Buddhist authors. In this paper, I ask why Buddhists in East Asia—especially those who had never been to India—showed such anxiety and concern about non-Buddhist teachings.
I begin by asking why when Xuanzang returned to China from 16 years of traveling and living in Central and South Asia did he bring 657 books but only seven icons? Is there a reason for the apparent lack of interest or value in the icons vs. that of the texts? I find that comparing the lists of the seven icons that are listed in the same order in Xuanzang’s Record and in his Biography that there are major differences recorded between the two in terms of size, material, and identification for almost all of the sculptures. The essay is an exploration of what are these discrepancies between the two lists, and what they may reflect in terms of Xuanzang’s understanding of the icons. I end with some thoughts on how the modern practice of art history may compound the difficulty in our understanding of this evidence.
Professor Deeg in his notes comments on the nature of the texts (the Records and the Biography) in which the icons are identified, and how these texts should be considered in identifying the icons in terms of their Buddhist doctrinal character. In using the texts, Xuanzang’s agenda and personal preferences can be suggested, making categories of meaning that help to explain and identify the objects.
Stone lanterns were important ritual architectures of the monastic compounds in medieval Chinese Buddhism and Daoism. They became flourishing in the Tang dynasty, and both declined afterward. This study examines the textuality and materiality of these stone lanterns by focusing on their inscribed texts and images. In analyzing extant inscriptions and images of these stone lanterns, this study reveals the literary structure, doctrinal ideas, and ritual practices in Buddhist and Daoist liturgical rituals centered on these stone lanterns and their roles in medieval religious life. This comparative study will shed new light on how Buddhist and Daoist monasticism in medieval China competed for their spiritual power by constructing their stone lanterns to carry on their historical traditions, honor their gods and deities, reach their soteriological goals, and serve the worldly needs of their practitioners.
Mahābodhi Temple in Bōdhgayā once housed a statue depicting Śākyamuni’s attainment of enlightenment after successfully subjugating Māra. This statue was unique in at least two respects. The first of these was its location. It stood at the very site where tradition holds the Buddha achieved enlightenment [bodhi], under the renowned bodhi-tree. Second, its reputed crafter, the future Buddha Maitreya, contributed to the sense that this was an important object. This temple was given the name “Mahābodhi” (great enlightenment; Da Puti si 大菩提寺 in Chinese) partly because of the site’s liminal significance during the Buddha’s life. Due to extraordinarily symbolism, this statue came to be venerated by pilgrims both from across South Asia and more remote areas including China. Famous Chinese pilgrims who paid personal homage to this statue included Xuanzang 玄奘 (602-64), and Yijing 義淨 (635-713). The Tang general-adventurer Wang Xuance 王玄策 (fl. 643-61) went further; he arranged for its replication and returned to China with the copy. This image immediately became a model for local craftsmen and artisans who produced further copies of the statue. Evidence suggests that in the following decades and centuries, models travelled far beyond the Tang capitals, reaching westward to Dunhuang and east to Korea, or even Japan.
Built upon Prof. Shinohara’s seminal studies on Tiantai historiography and Buddhist biographies, my paper examines the construction of the Tiantai lineage in late imperial China. It compares the Comprehensive History of the Buddhas and Patriarchs (Fozu tongji 佛祖統紀) with the Tiantai Transmission of the Buddha’s Mind Seal (Tiantai chuanfo xinyin 天台傳佛心印), another — but much shorter — work of Tiantai historiography composed in Yuan Dynasty, which was influential and controversial in the Ming and Qing. It explores how the Tiantai advocates in the Ming and Qing endeavored to fit themselves into the Tiantai narrative of history, trying to distinguish themselves from and, paradoxically, keep a rapport with other Buddhist schools.
Records of the Miraculous Responses and of the Manifestations of the Vinaya(hererafter GTZ) was compiled in 667, several months before Daoxuan’s death. The Taisho edition (T1898) was based on the woodblock print, published in 1718 by the book merchant Nakano, located in Kyoto. The Nakano edition is a collation of the text that is included in the Second Goryeo Canon, the old manuscript, and two other woodblock prints, known as the “old edition” and the “other edition.”
The Taisho edition of another text, with the title Records of the Miraculous Responses of the Vinaya Master Daoxuan (T2107), is the identical work. This edition is based on the Second Goryeo Canon. And fortunately its first Goryeo Canon edition is still preserved in the Nanzenji, Kyoto, which was discovered in the past decades. The colophon inscriptions suggest that the Kaibao edition of the Records of the Miraculous Responses of the Three Treasures in China mistakenly included the GTZ in its first scroll. The editors of the first Goryeo Canon extracted this part, and placed this new text under the label character 右 according to the classification of Kehong’s Phonetic and Semantic Dictionary. Sugi, the supervisor of the second Goryeo Canon discovered this editorial error and recorded it in his Collation Remarks.
Kehong knew the existence of GTZ via the Sequel to the Catalogue of Buddhist Teachings compiled in the Kaiyuan Era, expanded in the Zhenyuan Era, before obtaining the manuscript from a sthavira Huicheng who was in charge of collating the Buddhist texts. The text Kehong worked on, which contained a preface by Yancong and deviated in structure from all extant editions, testifies a unique textual form circulated in north China during the late Tang and the five dynasties. In addition, all but one miraculous stories in GTZ were quoted in the encyclopedic Pearl-forest of the Dharma Garden. This fact, considering its overlapping with the Records of Miraculous Responses of Preservation, indicates that Daoxuan embarked on an ambitious project towards the very end of his life. The sermons of the heavenly gods were recorded and were subsequently stored in Ximing Monastery. His collaborators Daoshi and Yancong participated in the revision of these records and produced the definite copy respectively. The unfinished condition of Daoxuan’s work partially explains the fact that the titles and the number of scrolls of Daoxuan’s works vary in different catalogues compiled in Tang and Song era.
The Fo benxing ji jing 佛本行集經 [Sutra of the Collection of the Past Activities of the Buddha], “translated” by the late 6th century Gandharan monk Jñānayaśas – of Dhyānayaśas, as I reconstruct the name – is the first Buddha biography in Chinese which was “translated” into a Western language – into English by Samuel Beal – and has no known Indian original or counterpart (like Aśvaghoṣa’s Buddhacarita or the Lalitavistara). Since then, the text has been used – if at all – uncritically by scholars and no real research has been done on it. This paper will address the possible reasons for this negligence but will then focus on certain features of the text, as, for example, its North-western origin and its potential value for the interpretation of Buddhist narrative art, particularly from Gandhāra.
In recent articles and his book, Spells, Images, and Mandalas, Dr. Koichi Shinohara has written extensively on the evolution of Esoteric Buddhist ritual texts into mandalas that express the earliest Esoteric pantheons and their imagery. Dr. Shinohara discusses a number of images and mandalas within his work, and his innovative studies provide the perfect foundations to study subsequent developments that have a dearth of scholarly attention—namely the origins of the Taizōkai mandala 胎蔵界曼荼羅, the earliest widely-known mandala still used today.In this paper, I will explore the textual and iconographic connections between the texts and mandalas examined by Dr. Shinohara and their connections to the Taizōkai mandala and its origins. I will focus on the Sheda Yigui 攝大儀軌 , the Taizō Zuzō 胎蔵図像 iconographic scrolls, and Yixing’s commentary to the Mahavairocana-sūtra. These materials—often ignored in modern scholarship—bridge the gap between the texts and mandalas detailed in Dr. Shinohara’s recent studies and are all associated with the Indian monk Śubhakarasiṃha.I argue that Śubhakarasiṃha consciously built upon the framework established by many of the works studied by Dr. Shinohara, expanding Taizōkai-related teachings to both encompass and eclipse the Esoteric Buddhist teachings that had already been transmitted to China. Rather than focusing on the pantheon present in the sūtras he himself translated, Śubhakarasiṃha used the Taizōkai-related teachings to engineer a complete and systematized pantheon of Esoteric Buddhist deities—each with an established spell, image, and presence in the most populated mandala in the history of Buddhism.In highlighting the ritual and iconographic connections between these works, this paper will serve to connect Dr. Shinohara’s aforementioned studies to the greater body of research on the ritual and iconography of Chinese Esoteric Buddhism as well as Japanese Shingon Buddhism.
The early biographies of the Buddha are always fragmentary, scattered in the Buddha’s teachings, either expounding the doctrine or supplying the background of the teaching. Gradually, the biographical stories of the Buddha become abundant. And the reason why the Buddha renounced the family life has caught people’s attention. Then “the great renunciation” of the Buddha stands out, turning into an important theme in Buddhist literature and sculptures. This paper will thoroughly survey the Buddha’s biographical materials in Buddhist scriptures and iconographies, trying to sketch the development of the episode “the great renunciation” in the textual and iconographical traditions. This process reveals not only the interactions between the literary and sculptural traditions, but also the mutual influences among different biographies of the Buddha in different sects.
From the Southern Song dynasty, several drawings are extant illustrating the layout of historical monasteries. Unlike painterly illustrations such as those seen wall paintings in cave temples and monastic halls, or the painting scrolls that were fashionable during the Kamakura period, these drawings depict monastic architecture seemingly in their entirety, utilizing orthographic projection or rudimentary perspective. They have been regarded as true representation of architecture at the time of drawing. However, are there other possibilities in reading these drawings?
This paper will study the drawing accompanied the Guanzhong chuanli jietan tujing 關中創立戒壇圖經 [Illustrated Scripture on the Building of Ordination Platform in Guanzhong] contained in Taishō Tripiṭaka, vol. 45, no. 1892; and the Wushan shisha tu 五山十剎圖 [Illustrations of the Five Mountains and Ten Major Monasteries]. Jietan tujing is attributed to Master Daoxuan and said to have been completed in 667. The version contained in Taishō is said to have been transmitted to Enchin 圓珍 (814-891), a monk from Enryakuji 延曆寺 north of Kyoto who visited China in the 4th year of Gangyō 元慶 (881). This version was reprinted by Weiding 惟定 of Wolong Jingdeyuan 臥龍景德院 in the 22nd year of Shaoxing 紹興 (1152). Since it is said the woodblocks for the Tujing was engraved again by Weiding, the date for the illustrations might be dated to 1152. On the other hand, Wushan tu were drawn by monk Tettsū Gikai 徹通義介 (1219–1309) of Daijō-ji 大乘寺 in Kanazawa 金澤. Tettsū travelled to Zhejiang and visited many Chan monasteries in 1259 and drawn the diagrams for replication in Japan. While Jietan tujing consists of one illustration, Wushan tu consists of 70 diagrams, 3 of which detailed monastery layout, 18 diagrams of architecture sections, elevation and details, and the rest of the diagrams contain drawings of furniture and ritual paraphernalia.
Both Jietan tujing and Wushan tu were painted for illustration of architectural layout and details for the transmission of a set of ‘correct information’ about monasteries depicted. The purpose of the illustrations might be for supplementing written texts so that the visual information might more accurately reflect the ‘true picture’ of monastic architecture of Jetavana Monastery in Savatthi, or Jingshansi 徑山寺, Lingyinsi 靈隱寺, Tiantongsi 天童寺 etc., in Zhejiang province. These are not illustrations to illustrate biography, or historical episodes or novels. They are not illustrations of sutra with religious purposes. These diagrams attempt to present a comprehensive picture of the layout, building forms and spatial relationship, furniture, and other objects found in these monasteries. Why would diagrams be a better means for the transmission of true images of these monasteries? How would these diagrams be read and used at the time, away from the spatial and cultural contexts of the location of the monasteries, i.e. India and China, for readers in China and Japan? This paper will present the meaning of the Jietan tujing and Wushan tu in their role in the transmission of the ideal architecture model for Discipline School and Chan/Zen School.
The fifth chapter and twelfth fascicle of Daoshi’s 道世 seventh-century Forest of Pearls from the Dharma Garden (Fayuan zhulin 法苑珠林) features a mini-anthology of over ten mythological accounts of the Buddha and his disciples coming together to preserve the dharma for posterity (Shinohara 2019, 201-225). Most of these accounts are copied over from Chinese Buddhist scriptures, but the final one is copied from a compilation of divine revelations recorded from Daoshi’s close colleague, the renowned vinaya master Daoxuan 道宣, in a work called the Daoxuan lüshi ganying ji 道宣律師感應記, a special text on cultic objects preserved nowhere else that Shinohara has returned to teach us about (2000, 2003). Now that Shinohara has fully translated this chapter of the Forest of Pearls, even more of us can take a closer look at Daoshi’s accomplishment.I argue that Daoshi’s mini-anthology about the canon’s “collections” jieji 結集 strives to offer his readers a useable multiplicity of accounts about the recurring origins of the dharma at Buddhist councils. Just as entire canons of the Buddha’s teachings were preserved in order to reach a diversity of sentient beings, so too did Buddhas and their disciples meet multiple times in order to preserve multiple collections. I show how, precisely, Daoshi adapts and amends a parallel mini-anthology about compiling the Buddhist canon from the first prefatory fascicle of Sengyou’s 僧祐 Chu sanzang jiji 出三藏記集 of the sixth century, returning to the scriptural sources Sengyou cited to quote more fully from them, replacing other quotations, and adding entirely new excerpts. While the scriptural accounts of Buddhist councils attest to the dharma’s oral preservation, only Daoxuan’s revelation promises that these scriptures have been written down in multiple scripts, stored in heavenly deep storage in caves and stupas, and entrusted to reliable dragons, gods, and demons. Daoshi’s expansion of Sengyou’s forest suggests, in the early Tang, a deepening interest in the origins and ontology of Buddhist scriptures, a greater confidence in managing discrepant sources, as well as a background insecurity concerning the scriptural tradition’s continued accessibility.
The study of texts, images, saints and sages, encyclopedias, historiographical and hagiographical Buddhist literature written in the Sinitic language are all topics transformed by Prof. Koichi Shinohara’s research. Although he addressed the transmission and dissemination of esoteric Buddhist texts in medieval China and Japan, he has not yet investigated the books and images and transmission documents preserved and safeguarded in medieval Shingon 真言宗 libraries during the medieval period in Japan (ca. 1185-1603), including but not limited to Daigoji 醍醐寺, Ninnaji 仁和寺, Tōji 東寺, Chishaku’in 智積院 (where remaining materials from Negoroji 根来寺 are kept), Amanosan Kongōji 天野山金剛寺, and Shinpukuji 真福寺. To the best of my knowledge, Brian Ruppert (2009) was the first scholar outside Japan to address in English the overabundant texts from many of these medieval libraries that were painstakingly copied to ensure transmission documents from the “authentic hand” (jihitsu 自筆) of key teachers. In this paper I review and update Ruppert’s overview of sacred teachings documents (shōgyō 聖教) as “authentic hand” copies, and discuss how these documents functioned simultaneously as texts and images. Many of these ritual (jisō 事相) documents contain visual guides; scholastic or study-guide (kyōgaku 教学) documents almost always have colophons (okugaki 奥書 or shikigo 識語) to guide students, disciples, and patrons to view these documents as texts and images of transmission, practice, and study. Long after the period when many historians have restricted their research to the arrival and dissemination in Japan of Chan (Zen) Buddhist teachers from China, the transmission of these sacred teachings documents produced large, notably regional, libraries where hand-copied manuscripts and special printed texts preserved not only the idea that late Tang-era (618-907) Buddhist teachings were kept alive, so to speak, hundreds of years later, but that specific texts written or copied by instructors for debates and ritual performances—especially at Negoroji in the 12th – 14th centuries—required reproduction as texts and images. An overarching question addressed in this paper is: how and why were texts, images, sets of texts (‘canons’), commentaries, and ritual manuals explicitly perceived to be authentic in medieval Japan only if they could be shown to be legitimate copies from the hands of certain masters?
Despite mediocre artistic traits, a jowly-faced stone Buddha image stored in the collection of Shaoxing (Zhejiang) Museum is worth our keen attention. The image bears an extraordinary inscription, specifying the seldom witnessed iconographic subject in Chinese Buddhist art, Weiweifo 維衛佛 (or Vipaśyin, the first among the so-called Seven Buddhas of the Past). More intriguing is its alleged date. It is dated to 488 CE or the sixth year of Yongming 永明 (483–493), the regnal era belonging to Emperor Wu Di 武帝of Southern Qi 齊 (479–502), making the specimen as the earliest and largest freestanding stone Buddhist devotional image known to us from the lower metropolitan hydrosphere of Yangzi, a crucial, but archaeologically underrepresented, center of Buddhist activities during the Southern Dynasties period (420–589). At the same time, one may well quickly recollect a lore cited in Fayuan zhulin 法苑珠林 (T2122) under the section ‘Ganying yuan’ 感應緣 (juan 12) that Daoshi 道世 says to have gleaned from the obscure text Shi’er lingyan 十二靈驗. In 313, a certain Zhu Ying 朱應 of Wu Xian 吳縣 discovered a stone image of Vipaśyin, along with another Past Buddha Kāśyapa (Jiashe 葉), floated to the coast, so he transported them to Tongxuansi 通玄寺. Thereafter, in 488, his great-grandson Zhu Farang 朱法讓, too, discovered a piece of floating stone, so he presented it to Chanlingsi 禪靈寺. Curiously, the latter date 488 matches with the inscribed date of the Shaoxing image, and Zhu Ying’s Buddha was indeed Vipaśyin. To make things more complicated, we also recognize that several antiquarian epigraphic records, for instance, the gazetteer of the Kuaiji 會稽 region compiled as early as the Jiatai 嘉泰 reign (1201–1204) of the Southern Song 宋 (1127–1279) by Shi Su 施宿 (1164–1222), cite an inscription that is verbatim identical to what is written on the Shaoxing image. Nevertheless, the image frustrates modern art historians, for it hardly follows the late fifth-century Southern Chinese style. Further suspicious is the peculiar calligraphic writing itself engraved awkwardly on the back, where an aureole is otherwise expected. What is going on? Is this image a forgery? The presentation aims to unravel these problems and to demonstrate a fascinating juncture of Buddhist historiographical tradition with the so-called “metal and stone study” (Jinshi xue 金石學), a growing intellectual pursuit of post-Song China.
Talismans occupy an ambiguous position at the nexus of text and image. Furthermore, it crosses boundaries in terms of spiritual traditions, such as Daoism, Buddhism, and Korean shamanism. Focusing on a talisman known as “Talisman of the Pure Land in the Next Life” (tangsaengjŏngt’obu 當生淨土符) in contemporary Korea, this paper traces its modifications in pre-modern Korea and China. Today, Korean shamans offer this talisman to people seeking employment and promotion at their workplace. The origin of this talisman, however, lies in the Buddhist talismanic tradition, which was once deeply entwined with Daoist or Chinese native practices. Based on woodblock prints excavated from inside tombs and statues, this paper shows how the shape and function of this talisman gradually changed during the Koryŏ (918-1392) and Chosŏn (1392-1910) periods of Korea. The paper further traces its earlier form in Dunhuang manuscripts, where it appeared under a different name, “Seal of Spirit-Feet” (shenzu yin 神足印) with more complex explanations of its efficacies. Inter-regional and interreligious exploration of this talisman and its modification reveals a hitherto unknown links between Chinese and Korean religious practices as well as premodern Buddhism and contemporary shamanism.
*This is a presentation branched off a co-study by Prof. Paul Copp, Ven. Jeonggak, and Youn-mi Kim
This paper will concentrate on Buddhist material culture related to saintly figures, examining Buddhist relics and image as they are presented in the Ji shenzhou sanbao gantong lu 集神州三寶感通錄 (Collected Record of Miracles Relating to the Three Jewels in China; henceforth the Record of Miracles). The Record of Miracles is a collection of miracle tales compiled by the scholar monk Daoxuan 道宣 (596-667) in 664. Daoxuan did much of his compilation at Ximing Monastery in Chang’an alongside his close collaborator, Daoshi 道世, who in 668 would finalize his monumental Buddhist encyclopedia, the Fayuan zhulin 法苑珠林 (Forest of Pearls from the Dharma Garden). As Professor Koichi Shinohara has argued in the past, they drew from many of the same sources made available to them at Ximing and would perhaps have been working together to compile these stories—as it is attested by the high degree of textual overlap between the two texts.
This paper will by no means be an exhaustive analysis of the cult of saints in China. What this paper will do is analyse those historical and cultural conditions related to the cult of saints that concerned Daoxuan. He was a monk of great erudition who read translated Indic Buddhist texts and helped translate many into the Chinese idiom. His was a world at once informed by the experience of Chinese religious and political life, while simultaneously being coloured by his own prolonged literary encounter with the foreign philosophies and rites of Buddhist India. Bearing this in mind, by investigating the literary evidence related to relics and images, as well as Daoxuan’s experience with these cult-objects and the place they held in both his writing and his life, this paper will firstly draw some conclusions about the place of Buddhist objects in Chinese society. It will secondly demonstrate Daoxuan’s profound investment and personal interest in the cult of saints. These two points also touch on the works of Daoshi, who knew Daoxuan well and included many segments of the Record of Miracles into the Fayuan zhulin. Important instances where the Record of Miracles or where details about Daoxuan’s life are included in the encyclopedia will also be studied in this paper, adding to the work done by Shinohara in the late 1980s early 1990s.
The story of the ‘Swift-Eyed King’ (Ch. Kuaimu wang 快目王) sacrificing his eyes, as recorded in the Xianyu jing 賢愚經 (Skt. Damamūka-nidāna sūtra; Sūtra on the Wise and the Foolish), is a popular Buddhist jatakatale that highlights the theme of bodily sacrifice. According to the story, the ‘Swift-Eyed King’ gorged out his eyes as an alms-offering but later miraculously recovered his sight. The painting of this story could be found in the murals in Kizil and Dunhuang, as well as in Buddhist statues in the later epochs. This story is often depicted along with other stories related to the bodily sacrifice, together forming a collective theme. The story of ‘Swift-Eyed King’ is particularly important, as it contains a strong symbolism about eyes: that the sacrifice of mundane eyes is reward with the transcendental “eyes of wisdom” (Ch. huiyan 慧眼); and this symbolism may be related to the practices involving the visualization of bodily sacrifices which were practiced by the monks who visited the grottos. In terms of artistic expression, we could observe, as the history advanced, an increasing accretion of indigenous Chinese elements in the representation of the story. More importantly, the story of ‘Swift-Eyed King gorging his eyes is much more than a Buddhist story and an artistic theme but has concrete relationship with the monastic practices in the medieval China. By bearing in mind this cultural context, we could better fathom the popularity of the sacrifice stories and images during the medieval China and better reflect on the common Buddhist narrative which involves the sacrifice of the mundane body and the subsequent recovery of a “sacred” body and experience.
In 1947, Prof. Lao Gan identified the “Liuya baixiang” (六牙白象) in Teng county of Shandong province as a Buddhist image. Then Prof. Yu Weichao made the conclusion circulated as he published “Donghan fojiao tuxiang kao” (On Buddhist images in the Eastern Han Dynasty) in the 1980s. Afterwards, the issue of Buddhist images of the Eastern Han Dynasty has been a crucial and long-debated topic in the circles of art archeology in China, as seen in recently published works. However, if we put together what was artistically developed in India and Central Asia of the same period, we tend to believe that Buddhist images should be emerging around the middle and late 1 century AD instead of 1 century BC. This will bring two important consequences to our understanding of Buddhist images of the Han Dynasty.Firstly, to what extent could we believe the written records of the Han Dynasty which stated that Buddhist scriptures and images were introduced in the Emperor Ming of the dynasty? The paralleled shrines of Laozi and Buddha offered by Liu Ying, the lord of Chu, and the sacrifices made to Laozi and Budda under the imperial canopy of the Emperor Huan of the dynasty, were they actual images or just abstract symbols? Prof. Wu Hung has provided an example of two images of such sacrifices offering to memorial tablets instead of actual images. This will be probably bring us some reflections upon the phenomenon.Secondly, the Buddhist images of the Eastern Han Dynasty that have been widely accepted among Buddhist scholars and art historians in China are mostly Buddhist symbols that lack the original type in India and Central Asia and thus are deemed atypical. If these original images do not exist, how could Chinese Buddhists produce these Buddhist images? The actual archaeological artifact that has been verified so far is the Buddhist image carved on the money tree of the year 125, which was excavated in Fengdu, Sichuan province. If we use this as the reference to examine the Buddhist images in the Emperor Ming of the Han Dynasty and the so-called Buddhist images in the northern part of the dynasty, we should have new thoughts on this issue.In summary, bearing in mind the actual situations of the Gandhara area where Buddhist images first emerged, we should reconsider the authenticity of those Buddhist images of the Eastern Han Dynasty excavated in archaeology. They were probably not Buddhist images at all in the first place.
In honor of Koichi Shinohara, much of whose work has focused on the interplay between Buddhist images and texts, we would contribute an essay on sacred mountains as sites which assemble images and texts in particular ways, whose long histories have witnessed significant alterations as the cult sites accommodate to local and national historical changes. We propose to examine three sites: Kuaiji Mountain, as largely pre-Buddhist cult site dedicated to an ever-popular culture hero; Tiantai Mountain, and Yandang shan (both with a significantly larger Buddhist presence).Kuaiji Mountain saw temples erected to the Great Yu, the legendary flood-queller, and thus was a site supposedly visited by the First Emperor of Qin (Qin Shihuang) on his progress south, which “took off” in Eastern Han as a result of local infrastructure improvements, to become a center of pilgrimage equipped with local academies. The Tiantai and Yandang Mountains constitute two geologically related corridors of mountain ranges southeast of Hangzhou in Zhejiang province. Both are noted for the exceptional beauty of their aquatic and rock-based landforms, as well as the significant Buddhist and Daoist communities they were (and still are) home to. The body of literature attributed to them over the centuries reflects these geomorphological and cultural similarities, progressing from early travelogues (youji 游記) to mountain records (shanji 山記) and mountain gazetteers (shanzhi 山志). With the shift from imperial to state patronage in the modern era, another genre of literature becomes the formative, dominant force that determines the fate of the area: that new genre is the so-called Famous Mountain Scenic Area Masterplan (mingshan fengjingqu zongti guihua 名山風景區總體規劃). In the case of the Yandang Mountains, its masterplan brought a UNESCO inscription as a World Geopark in 2005. In the case of the Tiantai Mountains, its more modest masterplan boosted tourism and improved local infrastructure. Both mountains have long been on the agenda of noted travelers, itinerant monks, painters and poets, such that the accumulated body of literary and visual art is quite overwhelming.We hope in our paper to raise larger questions of heritage preservation of relevance to today’s world, among them: (1) What is required to develop a cult site and popularize it? (2) What is required to sustain the cult site, under different regimes? (3) How have the modern PRC policies marginalized the religious presence of these sites in recasting them as “scenic sites” and “tourist destinations”? (4) How have international connections affected historical preservation in the modern period at different sites? (Tiantai Mountain has always had international connections, but Yandangshan has only recently acquired these. Kuaiji Mountain, by contrast, has never had them.)
This talk is based on recent research I have carried out using the documents found inside Chinese deity images from Hunan province. One of the striking characteristics of these images is that the documents clearly name who the image is of and provide further information that allows us to know quite a lot about the image. Among the thousands of images studied, I have become increasingly interested in particular figures related to different guilds (woodcarvers, hunters, metalworkers, physicians, boat-builders, etc.). While we know much about guilds and religion in Europe, little has been written about the religious nature of guilds and their deities (hangye shen 行業神) in China. I will focus much of my attention on one particular deity, a certain Yangsi Jiangjun 楊四將軍, since I recently discovered an image of this figure in a private collection. Yangsi Jiangjun 楊四將軍 is the patron god of boatmen who work the rivers and lakes of China. This talk will also explore the religious nature of guilds and how the training of those within a guild is comparable to the training of a disciple by a master in a religious context.
Although Buddhist monastic rules were undoubtedly meant to solve problems they also could create them, or have unintended consequences. The rule against theft, for example, seems straightforward. But almost from the beginning, it seems, whether or not an action constituted theft was determined in part by the value of the thing taken. This meant that when the thing taken was a relic determining whether or not that constituted an act of theft would require determining its value, or putting a price on the sacred. The issue was even more complicated by the fact that relics were often said to be “priceless,” and if they had no price taking them could not be theft. Similarly, the various Prātimokṣas have a rule making it an offence to touch or pick up a rant or “jewel.” But since an image of the Buddha could be thought of and treated as the Buddha himself, and since the Buddha himself was considered one of the “Three Jewels,” could you pick one up or touch an image without offence? The paper will explore these issues in one Indian vinaya tradition.
The medieval Japanese Buddhist teacher Nichiren (1222-1282), known for his message of exclusive devotion to the Lotus Sūtra, devised a calligraphic mandala as an object of veneration (honzon) for his followers. Down its center is inscribed the title of the Lotus Sūtra in the mantric formula Namu Myōhō-renge-kyō, flanked by the names of two buddhas Śākyamuni and Prabhūtaratna as attendants and surrounded by the names of representatives of the Lotus Sūtra assembly on Eagle Peak. Composed entirely of Chinese characters, along with two Siddham glyphs, Nichiren’s “great mandala” (daimandara) embodies the dual aspects of image and text. As image, it represents an enlightened cosmos, the realm of the primordially awakened buddha of the Lotus Sūtra. At the same time, its use of characters, rather than anthropomorphic or symbolic images, preserves and underscores its continuity with the Lotus text. Nichiren’s calligraphic mandala would become an identity marker for his later tradition. This paper, however, considers it in light of broader medieval Japanese doctrinal discourses about the Lotus Sūtra and how Nichiren drew on them to interpret text-image interface. Nichiren appropriated elements of original enlightenment (hongaku hōmon), which encouraged spatialized, mandalic representations of the Lotus Sūtra assembly, not as an event in the mythic past but as an ever-present reality. He also interpreted Tendai readings of the Lotus as the “perfect teaching” embodying the interpenetration of the dharmas to underscore his arguments for the soteriological power of its written characters and their unique ability to empower insentient buddha images as objects of worship. Recent scholarship has shown that Buddhist scriptures have been revered, not only for their discursive content, but as potent objects with talismanic powers; what mattered about sacred texts was not necessarily what they said but their ritual efficacy. The case of Nichiren’s mandala suggests that, at least in some instances, the power of a text as sacred object and its intellectual content were deemed inseparable.
Daoxuan 道宣, the master of the Darmagupta School in the Tang Dynasty, is the originator of the Four-part Vinaya school (Sifen Lüzong ) and is also called the “Father of Chinese Buddhist Historiography” by Buddhist historians. He has an imperishable glory in the history of Buddhism in China and even East Asia. Among the three books of Daoxuan on Buddhist history : Xu Gaoseng Zhuan 續高僧傳 Guang Hongming Ji 廣弘明集 and Ji Shenzhou Sanbao Gantong Lu (“Collected Record of Miracles Relating to the Three Treasures in China” 集神州三寶感通錄), the latter two were written in the first year of Linde 麟德 (664). Especially for Dao Xuan, who deeply felt that his natural span of life was approaching, Shenzhou Sanbao Gantong Lu can be said to contain his last profound meaning.
This paper intends to explore Daoxuan’s profound meaning for the revival of Buddhism in the Sui Dynasty，by the narrative of “Gantong” in Buddhism history from the Northern Zhou Dynasty to the Sui Dynasty in Ji Shenzhou Sanbao Gantong Lu.Through analyzing the items such as the Daci Temple Pagoda 大慈寺塔 in Xiangzhou 相州 built by Emperor Wen of the Sui Dynasty and the stone image of Riyan Temple 日嚴寺 in the Sui Dynasty and combining it with the abolition of Buddhism by Emperor Wu of the Northern Zhou Dynasty, the rebellion of Yuchi Jiong 尉遲迥 in the early Sui Dynasty, the rebellion of Yang Xuangan 楊玄感 during the reign of Emperor Yang of the Sui Dynasty, and revolt of Maitreya believers in the sixth year of Daye, it points out the meaning behind the writing of Buddhist history in Daoxuan’s Ji Shenzhou Sanbao Gantong Lu.
In the period of the prevalence of the Latter Dharma Idea in the Middle Ages, Dao Xuan tried to adopt different narratives and judgments on Emperor Wen and Emperor Yang of the Sui Dynasty. In fact, it implied his denial of the edict of elimination in Wude 武德 issued by Tang Gaozu 唐高祖 and his sense of crisis of the Latter Dharma, and also contained his hope for Tang Gaozong 唐高宗 and Wu Zetian 武則天 to protect Buddhism.
The concept of “visual narrative” is a can of worms. The term, largely taken for granted, is bandied around with ease and facile assumptions. Yet, what do we really mean by the term? Where precisely do we locate the “narrative?” What is the narrative about? There are easy and hard cases. The easy cases are straightforward: a text contains a narrative; it is subsequently illustrated, i.e., visualized in material forms. The narrative is thus to be located in the source text. The hard cases are less straightforward, often in the form of assemblages of pictorial or sculptural scenes. The medley of source texts informing them are unrelated to one another. These texts may contain narratives. Yet they do not explain the latent threadline that ties up the assemblage of scenes cobbled together from various source texts. It is this organizing threadline that concerns us here.My focus is on visual programs featuring meditation scenes that embellish Buddhist cave sanctuaries. While the scenes appear to be about meditations, the logic behind the assemblage of “narrative” scenes featuring meditation and other contents is irreducible to the source texts. Nor are they about meditation per se. A latent narrative informs the assemblage of these otherwise unrelated scenes. This is this deep script that my paper attempts to uncover.
While Zunsheng Dhāranī tomb pillars in the Tang almost always included the entire Zunsheng Dhāranī Sutra and its ancillary texts, their counterparts in the Liao-Jin-Yuan periods saw a trend of inscriptional texts overshadowing the space and importance of scriptural texts. Many Zunsheng pillars did not even inscribe the Dāranī itself, whose very presence allegedly imbued the pillars with miraculous religious power, such as relieving the deceased from the hells and removing bad karma. Focusing on the region of northern Shanxi where Mt. Wutai is located, this paper analyzes the shift of documentary claims of Zunsheng Dhāranī tomb pillars from privileging scriptural texts to inscriptional texts from the Tang to the Song, Liao, Jin, and Yuan dynasties. This location is significant because the sacred Buddhist mountain had close association with the popularity of the Zunsheng Dhāranī Sutra and Zunsheng pillars in Tang China. From the Tang onward, pious Buddhists installed Zunsheng pillars carved with all or part of the Zunsheng Dhāranī Sutra near their ancestors’ tombs. Such Zunsheng pillars, naturally called tomb pillars, often also bore epitaphs or other inscriptions about the installers’ families. The paper discusses the trend of change in Zunsheng tomb pillars by foregrounding the following questions. How did changes in people’s epigraphic practices in northern Shanxi affect their perception of a Zunsheng pillar’s imagined power? Was the material presence of the Zunsheng Dhāranī crucial for a pillar to sustain its supposed religious power? How did people define a tomb pillar without scriptural texts a Zunsheng pillar? The paper makes two arguments. First, material and visual forms of a Zunsheng pillar gradually overtook textual forms to convey religious messages that were inherently attached to the pillar. Second, the importance of Zunsheng tomb pillars as a medium for kinship records increasingly surpassed that for scriptural texts in northern Shanxi after the Jin dynasty, attesting to the shifting dynamics in the relationship between Buddhist followers and Buddhist texts or objects.
King Qian Chu 錢俶王 (Zhongyi 忠懿; r. 947-978) was the longest reigning ruler of the Wuyue state 吳越國 during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms 五代十國 period. Known for their support for Buddhism, Wuyue monarchs established a significant number of Buddhist institutions and monuments, branding the region as a “Buddha land” 佛國, a legacy that continues to the present day. One of the hallmarks of Qian Chu’s reign was his invoking of the Aśoka model of erecting an alleged 84,000 stūpa reliquaries throughout his territory. He was abetted in his quest by the presence of an Aśoka stūpa 阿育王塔 in Mingzhou 明州 (contemporary Ningbo), based on the legend of the Aśoka’s dispersion of śarīra reliquaries of the Buddha’s remains throughout the known world in the 3rd century BCE. On three occasions, Qian Chu minted miniature Aśoka-style stūpa reliquaries and printed copies of a dhārani sūtra, The Precious Chest Seal Dhārani Sūtra (full title: The Precious Chest Seal Dhārani Sūtra of the Whole-Body Relics Concealed in the Minds of All Tahtāgatas (Yiqie rulai xin mimi quanshen sheli baoqie yin tuoluoni jing 一切如来心秘密全身舍利寶篋印陀羅尼経, Skt: Sarvatathāgatā-adhiṣṭhāna-hṛdaya guhyadhatu karaṇḍa-mudra-dhāraṇī-sūtra; CBETA T 19-1022A). The sūtra was acquired in Śri Lanka and translated into Chinese by Amoghavajra, or Bukong Jin’gang 不空金鋼 (shortened to Bukong 不空; 705-774). It has a rich history of transregional dissemination stemming from its origins and transmission throughout China and to Japan. My presentation aims to examine Qian Chu’s printed text from several angles, including the advent and use of printing technology, the role of the Aśoka stūpa cult in Wuyue, the relation between the illustration on the frontispiece of Qian Chu’s printed copy and the contents of the dhārani sutra, and the place of esoteric teachings in Wuyue Buddhism.
This paper examines the Sūtra of the Great Divine Spells of Auspiciousness (大吉义神咒經) and its profound influence on image-making and liturgical performance in Yungang, a 5th century court rock-cut cave monastery. The paper will first explore the translation of the text including the actual date of the translation and the significant meaning of jiyi in the social and political context of the protection of kingship, power struggle and Dharma protection. The focus will be on the relationship between the text and the subjects of the second-phase caves in Yungang, and the text and ritual performance. I will argue that the visual representations of many types of Dharma protector deities in a systematic Buddhist cosmological pantheon in the Yungang caves are primarily based on the Sūtra of the Great Divine Spells of Auspiciousness. I will also argue that the reason the visual representations of Mahesvara in Yungang differentiates themselves significantly from other early images in India, Khotan and Dunhuang, and were not phallic, is precisely because the images were depicted based on the Da jiyi sutra, which was translated in Yungang, and had little to do with the Chinese tradition, as has been previously suggested. It is significant to note that the sacred texts translated in Yungang by Tanyao, the founder of the Yungang monastery, played a significant role in image-making, function and ritual practices.