Guest Lecture: Jātaka, Purgatory, and Supernatural Stories (zhiguai)—On the Classicization of Buddhist Stories from the Perspective of Fayuan zhulin

Dunhuang Mural, “Nine-Colored Deer King” 敦煌壁畫《鹿王本生》


Speaker: Professor Yu ZHANG (Shanghai International Studies University)

Date: Thursday, March 28, 2024, 2:00 pm PDT

Venue: UBC Asian Centre, Room 604

In-person registration:

Zoom registration:

This lecture is presented in Mandarin.



This presentation focuses on the collection Fayuan zhulin compiled by the Tang Dynasty’s Buddhist scholar Daoshi, and explores the role of Fayuan zhulin in the canonization of Buddhist stories, focusing on the Jātaka (Buddha’s past life stories), purgatory, and supernatural stories. The Jātaka stories can be divided into types such as treasure hunting in the sea, love, wit, socio-economic life, animals, etc. The hell stories include resurrection, hell travel, ghost stories and love between humans and ghosts, etc. The supernatural stories (zhiguai) were originally unrelated to Buddhism and were also absorbed and utilized by Buddhism. These stories together constitute the surreal world of the story in Fayuan zhulin.

About the speaker:

Professor Yu ZHANG is a professor in Institute of Literary Studies at Shanghai International Studies University. He was a visiting scholar at Harvard University in 2010 and 2015. His research interests include Buddhist Literature and Classical Chinese Poetry. His publications include a monograph titled Xinxing and Shichan: Essays on Scholars and Buddhism in the Northern Song Dynasty  (2012 East China Normal University Press), a Chinese translation of Stephen Teiser’s The Scripture on the Ten Kings:and the Making of Purgatory in Medieval Chinese Buddhism (2016 Shanghai Guji Press), and more than 50 articles.