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T'ang Studies 23-24 (2005-06) The Gold-Colored World: "Eulogy on the Holy Regions of Mount Wutai" MARY ANNE CARTELL! HUNTER COLLEGE Dunhuang, an oasis on the Silk Road, is generally credited as the point of entry for Buddhism into China. Mount Wutai (Five Terrace Mountain 1iff. Lin, a sacred Buddhist mountain associated with the bodhisattva Mafijusrl, was an important pilgrimage site for the disciples of the Avatarp.saka, Pure Land, Tiantai, Chan, and Tantric schools. There must have been considerable communication between Dunhuang and Mount Wutai in the Tang and Five Dynasties era, judging from the materials found at Dunhuang, which include an intriguing corpus of poems celebrating the mountain appearing in over thirty manuscripts preserved in the Pelliot, Stein, Leningrad, and Beijing collections. 1 The authors are thought to be monks or lay devotees, and the poems date from the Late Tang to the Five Dynasties period. This essay focuses on one set of poems from the Wutai corpus: the "Eulogy on the Holy Regions of Mount Wutai" (Wutai shan shengjing zan 1iff.LlJ~:f:ff~),eleven poems by Xuanben, monk of the Golden Terrace ~ff.*'T~1js:, dating from the ninth century. The poems not only describe the most important miraculous sites on Mount Wutai but significant Indian figures as well. The "Eulogy" demonstrates an extraordinary mix of Chinese I wish to acknowledge the support of the Fulbright Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Research Foundation of the City University of New York during various stages of my research. I also thank the 2005 New York Conference on Asian Studies, where a version of this essay was presented. All translations are my own unless otherwise noted. 1 See Mary Anne Cartelli, "The Poetry of Mount Wutai: Chinese Buddhist Verse from Dunhuang" (PhD diss., Columbia University, 1999), for a detailed study of the entire corpus of poems. Cartelli: The Gold-ColoredWorld and Indian motifs. Xuanben portrays the different realms of gods and men living side by side in a higher reality not seen by an ordinary person, a recurring theme in Mount Wutai literature. He envisions the gold-colored world ofMaiijusri, describing a Chinese landscape bathed in golden light and transformed into a Buddhist paradise outside the boundaries of time and space. Xuanben takes us on a virtual journey through the five terraces following the traditional pilgrimage circumambulation route, but he also gives us a more profound look at the spiritual aspects of the Mount Wutai experience. The poet seems equally comfortable describing tangible mountain landscapes and abstract Buddhist concepts. To explicate these poems, I have utilized the sidra and pilgrimage literature associated with Mount Wutai as commentaries. The bodhisattva Maiijusri figures prominently in three major sutras that appeared in China between the second and fifth centuries: the Lotus, the Avata'J!Zsaka,and the Vimalakirti sutras.2 The Maftjufriparinirvd1 }a sutra, 3 which appeared in China by the third century, is also significant, as it and the Avata'J!Zsakasutra are believed to prophesy Maiijusri's appearance on Mount Wutai. The oldest pilgrimage record is by the Tang monk Huixiang ~#, the Gu Qjngliang zhuan ~1F1f¥JR1.w (Ancient Record of the Clear and Cold).4 Yet another significant source of material about Mount Wutai is Nitto guho junrei gyoki A)~f*1:t~t.t1::ygC (The Record of a Pilgrimage to China in Search of the Law), the diary of the Japanese monk Ennin [§]i- (793-864), who visited from 838 to 847.5 Yanyi 2.[-, a monk of the Northern Song, wrote a more 2 Miaofa lianhuajing~j>lt;'jjff1JJgL tr. Kumarajiva, 406. T 262: 9. Dafangguang fa huayan jing *:hJi~¥~#,ill (hereafter DFGFHYj), tr. Buddhabhadra, 418-421, T 278: 9; tr. Si~ananda, 695-699, T 279: 10. Weimojie suoshuojing f.iiUl'f§5PJT"ii5l.#,ill,tr. Kumarajiva, 406, T 475: 14. 3 Wenshu shili ban niepan jing )(JJKI~Hp;fIj¥1£!lli#,ill,tr. Nie Daozhen am~,yd century, T 463: 14. 4 Huixiang ~ff, Gu Qjngliang zhuan tlrnl~1$(hereafter GuQLZ), ca. 667, T 2098: 51. S Ennin, Nitta guM junrei gyaki Ajgf*I*~1I1T~c (hereafter NGfG), in Nitta 2 Tang Studies 23-24 (2005-06...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1759-7633
Print ISSN
0737-5034
Pages
pp. 1-45
Launched on MUSE
2021-04-08
Open Access
No
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