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Hualin International Journal of Buddhist Studies 3.1 (2020): 1–46;
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Manuscript Studies and Xuanzang Studies)

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An Investigation of the Relationship between Prince Shōtoku’s Shōmangyō-gisho and Two Dunhuang Buddhist Manuscripts: A Debate over Originality and Canonical Value

Texas Christian University

Keywords: Dunhuang manuscripts, false-composition-hypothesis, Fujieda Akira, Prince Shōtoku, Sangyō-gisho, Shōmangyō-gisho, true-composition-hypothesis

Abstract: This article examines the relationship between Nai 93 and Tama 24—two manuscript fragments discovered at Dunhuang—and the Shōmangyō-gisho, a Buddhist text written in classical Chinese that scholars traditionally attributed to Japan’s Prince Shōtoku (574–622). This discussion focuses on Fujieda Akira’s discovery that these Dunhuang manuscripts predate and closely resemble the text attributed to Shōtoku.

Fujieda’s research caused heated scholarly debate by questioning the Shōmangyō-gisho’s authorship and value, leading to the production of a substantial body of research in the late 1960s and 1970s seeking to clarify the relationship between the Shōmangyō-gisho and the Dunhuang manuscripts. Specialists in Shōtoku Studies saw these efforts as crucial because assertions of the Shōmangyō-gisho’s originality are central to its perceived value. One can view this research as part of the broader search for the ‘true record’, a goal that informed much of the scholarship on the Shōmangyō-gisho and two other Buddhist commentaries attributed to the prince. After discussing Fujieda’s work, the article examines how those who accept Shōtoku’s authorship of the Shōmangyō-gisho tried to respond to Fujieda’s key findings, focusing on how they address the Dunhuang discoveries in modern translations and critical editions of the text attributed to the prince. It concludes by offering an alternative angle of critical vision on the relationship between these texts that differs in key ways from this received body of scholarship.


This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.