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Cultural Intersections in Later Chinese Buddhism

Marsha Weidner

Publication Year: 2001

In a demonstration of the value of interdisciplinary, culture-based approaches, this collection of essays on "later" Chinese Buddhism takes us beyond the bedrock subjects of traditional Buddhist historiography--scriptures and commentaries, sectarian developments, lives of notable monks--to examine a wide range of extracanonical materials that illuminate cultural manifestations of Buddhism from the Song dynasty (960-1279) through the modern period. Straying from well-trodden paths, the authors often transgress the boundaries of their own disciplines: historians address architecture; art historians look to politics; a specialist in literature treats poetry that offers gendered insights into Buddhist lives. The broad-based cultural orientation of this volume is predicated on the recognition that art and religion are not closed systems requiring only minimal cross-indexing with other social or aesthetic phenomena but constituent elements in interlocking networks of practice and belief.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press


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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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Introduction: Cultural Intersections in Later Chinese Buddhism

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pp. 1-10

histories based on canonical texts, biographies of great masters, and institutional records provide only a partial account of Buddhism in China. Likewise, the place of Buddhism in Chinese aesthetic life is much more complex than suggested by the selection of Buddhist objects and sites described in mainstream art historical scholarship. In historical and art historical accounts alike, traditional Chinese and Western notions of authoritative sources and subjects worthy of study have limited our perceptions of Chinese Buddhism. These views have ...

Liturgical Culture: Image, Text, and Ritual

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1. Religious Functions of Buddhist Art in China

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pp. 13-29

... numerous ways to look at and appreciate works of Chinese Buddhist art, and many different questions that one may ask about them. Images of buddhas, bodhisattvas, lohans, patriarchs, and other sacred figures associated with the Buddhist tradition in China might be appreciated, for example, from a purely aesthetic point of view. Or they might be viewed and interpreted as representational art that symbolizes various elements of ...

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2. Text, Image, and Transformation in the History of the Shuilu fahui, the Buddhist Rite for Deliverance of Creatures of Water and Land

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pp. 30-70

Along with being a very popular rite, the shuilu fahui (rite for deliverance of creatures of water and land) is arguably the most spectacular liturgy in the Chinese Buddhist repertoire. From at least the beginning of the Southern Song, larger monasteries made the shuilu available to their clientele through permanent chapels known as shuilu halls (shuilu tang or yuan). These structures complemented a well-established tradition of ad hoc (linshi) performance ...

Literati Culture: Calligraphy and Poetry

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3. Buddhist Literati and Literary Monks: Social and Religious Elements in the Critical Reception of Zhang Jizhi’s Calligraphy

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pp. 73-86

... was dominated, first in the Six Dynasties and Tang periods, by Daoistic nature similes used to capture the artist’s creativity (e.g., “like a rock falling from a high peak, bounding but about to crumble”), then in the Song dynasty was complicated by the rise of a competing Confucian paradigm of morality (“seeing the man in his writing”). The Song-dynasty contests between the Daoist and Confucian camps over the critical reputations ...

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4. Through the Empty Gate: The Poetry of Buddhist Nuns in Late Imperial China

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pp. 87-114

... a lay Buddhist scholar-official from Jiaxing (in present-day Zhejiang province) by the name of Gao Yiyong ( jinshi, 1613) wondered about the seeming absence of women in the written biographical and historical accounts of Buddhist monastic figures: Those who abandoned worldly glory and went in search of tranquility, seeking to transcend this dusty world and refusing to be entrapped by it, were for the ...

The Political Sphere: Painting, Architecture, and Music

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pp. 115-116

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5. Imperial Engagements with Buddhist Art and Architecture: Ming Variations on an Old Theme

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pp. 117-144

... by imperial edicts, subject to bureaucratic controls, the target of harsh criticism from Confucian officials, and in constant competition with other systems of belief, Buddhism still flourished in the Ming dynasty (1368–1644). In one form or another, the religion attracted believers from all segments of Ming society—elite and nonelite, male and female, ethnic Chinese and non-Chinese.Whatever judgments may be passed on its spirituality ...

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6. Miracles in Nanjing: An Imperial Record of the Fifth Karmapa’s Visit to the Chinese Capital

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pp. 145-169

... Hugh Richardson, then a member of the Indian legation in Tibet, traveled west from Lhasa to the seat of the incarnate Black-Hat (Zva-nag) Karmapas,Tsurphu Monastery. While there he was shown a fifty-meter-long silk handscroll that recorded the events surrounding the visit of the Fifth Karmapa (1384–1415) to the court of the Ming Yongle emperor, Zhu Di, in 1407.1 The Karmapa had been invited to Nanjing to perform a mass of universal ...

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7. Thangkas for the Qianlong Emperor’s Seventieth Birthday

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pp. 170-188

... royal birthdays were often occasions for great celebrations. This was especially so during the Qing dynasty (1644–1912), when the emperors and empresses reached the advanced age of sixty, seventy, or eighty. The birthday of the Qianlong emperor (r. 1735–1796) occurred on the thirteenth day of the eighth lunar month, and it was customary for him to celebrate it at the Bishu shanzhuang (Mountain manor for escaping the summer ...

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8 Beijing’s Zhihua Monastery: History and Restoration in China’s Capital

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pp. 189-208

... just inside the Second Ring Road, across from the International Post Office and hidden behind a cluster of high-rise apartment blocks, there is a walled compound of black-tile-roofed buildings. In the winter of 1986, when as a student exploring the alleys and out-of-the-way corners of the city I first visited the site, it was in disrepair, and a sign on the gate forbade entry to the public. A sincere conversation with the ...


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pp. 209-218


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pp. 219-220


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pp. 221-234

E-ISBN-13: 9780824862091
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824823085

Publication Year: 2001