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257 Part 4  The Biographical Genre in Local Buddhist Cults and Practice The essays in this section explore, from an anthropological perspective, the articulation of sacred biography in Thai and Burmese cultural practice. Schober presents mythic, textual, and ritual perspectives on Mahâmuni, an image believed to have been created as the Buddha’s Living Twin and representative in his absence. The essay explores the ways in which ritual service to this image is used to create the Buddha’s presence and shows how the image is used in the negotiation of royal and individual patronage, social status within communities, and nationalistic identification within both traditional and contemporary cosmologies. Taylor’s essay focuses on the simultaneous textualization and contextualization in an ascetic tradition that began in northeastern Thailand. He describes the process by which a local, oral hagiography at the Thai periphery is transformed to create a cult of relics patronized by Thai elites at the center of the nation. Houtman examines the biography of a modern Burmese lay meditation teacher from the perspective of indigenous literary conventions in order to legitimate its place within the hagiographic traditions. His discussion of the biography of this particular lay meditation teacher further engages critical perspectives on the categories by which Buddhist sacred biography is constructed. ...


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