The Buddhist Monastic Economy

In: Modern Chinese Religion I (2 vols.)


This chapter explores the range of economic activities Buddhist monasteries engaged in during the Liao, Jin, and Song dynasties. Monasteries faced challenges similar to other social groups: Buddhist monks or nuns and their respective institutions wanted to be seen as legitimate, hoped to have a long institutional life and faced the challenge of accessing local support, attaining imperial recognition, and earning the respect and admiration of their peers. Monasteries had to raise considerable income to stabilize their social positions not to mention spread the Dharma. A particular monastery’s own forces of production would directly impact its social position and religiosity. These forces produced economic capital that would shape the institution’s ability to negotiate an identity for itself.