Lineages, Networks, and the Lamp Records

in Review of Religion and Chinese Society
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This paper lays a foundation for spatial religious histories of Chan Buddhism in the Northern and Southern Song dynasties (960–1279). The Lamp Records (denglu 燈錄) texts are genealogically organized hagiographic records of members of the Chan lineages. Scholarly consensus holds that these records are primarily religious texts and of questionable historicity, but with a critical methodology it is possible to discover patterns in these documents which can be amplified and visualized using digital techniques. This paper blends gis geospatial analysis and traditional close reading of sectarian Buddhist sources and nonsectarian historical sources (such as “gazetteers” 地方誌). The author assembled a gis dataset to study the Chan abbots named in the Song-era Lamp Records texts, including each abbot’s lineage identity, temple location, and the number of full-fledged disciples recorded in a Lamp Records text. The results suggest that Chan lineages during the Northern Song as presented in the Lamp Records correspond to regional networks and were not necessarily doctrinal opponents. This paper concludes with a series of critiques regarding the power and limits of computational methods like gis. The author proposes that the task of the digital humanist is to go beyond building infrastructure and to engage in critical interpretation.

本文奠立了北、南宋時期(960–1279)禪宗空間歷史研究的基礎。作者援引由宋代禪林所撰《燈錄》以搜集北宋每位禪師的宗派、主持寺地名、弟子數量等信息,並運用gis系統呈现上述资料。《燈錄》系統地記載了禪宗的發展譜系。但是,學界普遍認為《燈錄》的記載頗具宗教導向,在史實性方面尚待考證。本文將gis空間分析技術(所謂遙距閲讀)與對宗派佛教文獻及非宗教歷史文獻(諸如地方誌)的近距閲讀相結合。分析結果顯示,根據《燈錄》的記載,北宋禪林宗派的劃分是基于地區網絡而不是教义竞争。論文还讨论了gis與宗教歷史研究方法論。 (This article is in English.)


Lineages, Networks, and the Lamp Records

in Review of Religion and Chinese Society



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Tsuchiya Taisuke (2008) for example has made major contributions to our understanding of the development of Linji Chan in the Northern Song dynasty including an analysis of contests between sub-branches.


Between 1973 and 1986Suzuki Tetsuo published a series of at least eight papers composed of tables charts and maps describing the cities and prefectures of Chan abbots from the Tang and Song. A citation to one of the eight papers is included in the bibliography.


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    Northern Song Chan lineages before the personal reign of Emperor Renzong.

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    Chan lineages roughly during the personal reign of Emperor Renzong (1034–1063).

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    Northern Song Chan lineages after the reign of Emperor Renzong.

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    Early Southern Song Chan lineages after the Jingkang Calamity of 1127.

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    A section of an early version of the dataset.

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    A section of the final dataset, formatted for use with gis software.

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