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Series:

Henrik H. Sørensen

Abstract

This essay focusses on the experience of Korean Sŏn (Chan) monks travelling to Tang China in search of the Buddhist teaching. Particular to Sŏn pilgrim-monks is the quest for ‘mind to mind transmission’, which necessitated the undertaking of a spiritual journey to China, hoping to encounter a master with the authority to transmit the teaching. Such encounters do not only cement the historical relationship between two individuals, they also serve as a proof that a given monk is capable of initiating his own (Korean) lineage of transmission. This essay presents an analysis of the salient features involved in this transmission process with a special attention to epigraphical writings.

Series:

Sem Vermeersch

Abstract

This chapter studies the way Chinese Buddhist monks looked at their Korean counterparts, and how this perception of a Buddhist “other” changed over time from the beginning of the 6th to the late 10th centuries. This was the period when Buddhist exchanges between China and Korea were the most intensive. Throughout this period, a vast number of monks from peninsular kingdoms travelled to China and beyond; some eventually returned to their home country, but many stayed, and some left their marks on Chinese Buddhism. Given the lack of early Korean sources, much of our information about the biographies of these intrepid monks stems from Chinese biographic collections. So far, however, insufficient attention has been paid to the fact that these biographies were shaped by the ideals and motivations of their authors. Notably, Daoxuan, author of a seminal collection of monastic biographies, projected his own ideals of the observance of the Vinaya and doctrinal learning on the biographies of Wŏngwang and Chajang. The way he creatively reimagined these biographies has been accepted in Korean scholarship and continues to influence even present-day perceptions. While later biographies do not show such a strong auctorial hand, they equally tend to inscribe Chinese monastic ideals or other motivations on the Korean material.

Series:

Kaiqi Hua

Abstract

During Mongol rule in China and Tibet, especially under the reign of Qubilai Qan (1215–1294), the Mongol rulers had established the unspoken tradition of banishing for political reasons disliked Chinese and Korean royal family members to Tibet, and Tibetan and Mongolian royal family members to South China. These two areas were both culturally alien and geographically remote to the recipients of exile orders. But destinations of exile such as Sakya and Hangzhou had religious prestige in Tibetan and Chinese Buddhism respectively. The paper scrutinises the life of the last Song Emperor Zhao Xian 趙㬎 (1271–1323), who had travelled extensively across China and Tibet, and became a Tibetan Buddhist monk then known as Lhatsün (Tib. Lha btsun). From various sources in different language and literary forms, we are able to not only reconstruct Zhao’s travel routes and identity transformations, but also learn the motives and processes of Buddhist exile for the royals during the Mongol Yuan元Dynasty (1271–1368) through physical migration in space and textual reproduction in time. This paper demonstrates the role Buddhism played in cross-cultural and cross-regional contacts in the lives of individual migrants.

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Megan Bryson

Abstract

The Nanzhao (649-903) and Dali (937-1253) kingdoms controlled large swaths of territory centred in the Dali region of what is now southwest China’s Yunnan province. Dali served as a hub in transregional networks that linked it to Tang-Song China, Tibet, India, and Southeast Asia, meaning that people in Dali could have potentially developed a regional form of Buddhism that hybridized elements from each of its neighbours. Given that human agency and historical factors shape network formation, Dali Buddhism did not come equally from all possible routes. Extant sources show that ruling elites in the Nanzhao and Dali kingdoms relied more heavily on conduits linking Dali to Chinese territory for their Buddhist material, especially their texts. However, they emphasized instead their links to India and downplayed the China connection. I use texts and images related to the border-crossing bodhisattva Guanyin (Skt. Avalokiteśvara) to show how these documented and represented networks relate to each other in the Nanzhao and Dali kingdoms. Understanding networks and identity in Nanzhao- and Dali-kingdom Buddhism requires understanding not only how people interacted with each other, but also how they depicted those interactions. Regional and transregional forms of Guanyin from the Nanzhao and Dali kingdoms offer a way to examine both kinds of networks.

Series:

Volume-editor Ann Heirman, Carmen Meinert and Christoph Anderl

Series:

Rob Linrothe

Abstract

The networks linking the Ming Chinese court with Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and lineages in Amdo, Kham and Central Tibet are well known and studied. Spectacular objects created at or by the Ming court were prized at the major Tibetan Buddhist monasteries supported directly by the Ming court, reminders of the monastery’s participation in wider networks of Buddhist teachings and support, helping to define their identities. This essay focuses on a partial set of eight Ming Dynasty textiles still in use at a shrine in the Western Himalaya that was never in contact with any Chinese state, and was in fact founded long after the Ming Dynasty ended. Yet the group of relatively well-preserved embroidered textiles, at least one of which has a Chinese inscription on the back, are hung during the monastery’s annual masked dance festival (Tib. ’cham), treasures displayed on an auspicious pair of days. How and when they were acquired by a monastery in southeastern Ladakh on the far Western border of Tibet is not known, though other objects in the same monastery can be shown to have been sent by the nineteenth-century 14th Karmapa. These objects are potent, physical reminders of the circulation and flow of people, ideas, practices, texts, and objects within Buddhist networks crossing linguistic, state, ethnic and cultural borders.

Series:

Pei-ying Lin

Abstract

Shōtoku Taishi 聖徳太子 (Prince Shōtoku, 573–621) has stimulated the longstanding interest of modern scholars. The cult of Shōtoku Taishi was a far-reaching movement across Japan throughout several centuries, and the belief that he was Huisi’s慧思 (515–577) reincarnation is an important element in his extensive cult in the Buddhist world. This paper focuses on the connection between the Japanese prince and the legend cycles of the Chinese patriarch Huisi from the eighth century onwards. In particular, this paper discusses the networks of authors of this reincarnation story, namely Du Fei 杜朏 (c. 710–720), Jianzhen 鑑真 (688–763), Situo 思託 (722–809), Saichō 最澄 (767–822) and Kōjō 光定 (779–858). The self-definition of these authors involves how Buddhist monks located themselves in a broader context of East Asian Buddhism. It is concluded that the reincarnation legend reveals the authors’ motives with respect to rearranging the association between China and Japan. Their self-definition matured as the reincarnation story developed into a mature form.

Series:

Steven Trenson

Abstract

This chapter discusses the basic characteristics and historical formation of the combination of the deities Fudō Myōō 不動明王 (Skt. Acala[-nātha] Vidyārāja) and Aizen’ō 愛染王 (Skt. Rāgarāja) in Shingon 真言 esoteric Buddhism. In medieval Japan, various beliefs and practices were established in Shingon, in particular in the Ono 小野 branch of the tradition, which centred on these two deities. Their cult eventually came to constitute one of the most important elements marking the identity of Shingon esotericism, but little is known about how the Fudō-Aizen combination was initially formed. Traditionally, scholars have emphasized that the cult was created in Japan. The present chapter, however, aims to expand this view by looking at the issue from the standpoint of two different intersecting networks, a ‘translocal’ human network stretching between China and Japan and a ‘local’ conceptual network of ideas and practices developed in Shingon. In other words, it argues that the Fudō-Aizen combination became one of the hallmarks of medieval Shingon through the combined result of two factors, one being the translocal dissemination of Chinese esoteric Buddhist doctrines to Japan, and the other a specific, local ritual development within the Ono branch of Shingon.

Concretely, the chapter highlights two important clues to investigate the formation of the Fudō-Aizen combination in Shingon. The first clue is the composition of the ‘Aizen Mandala’ 愛染曼荼羅 said to have been brought to Japan from China by the Tendai 天台 monk Enchin 円珍 (814–891), but which circulated among both Tendai and Shingon circles in the medieval era. In this regard, it is argued that the notion of Fudō-Aizen must have been part of the knowledge of the Buddhist intellectual circles that produced the Aizen Mandala and that its origin might therefore ultimately lie in China. The second clue concerns the Rain Prayer Sutra ritual (Shōugyōhō 請雨経法), one of the earliest ritual practices of the Ono branch of Shingon which involved a meditation on Fudō and Aizen. With respect to this ritual it is shown that its structure was actually based on key notions found in the Yuqi jing 瑜祇経, an important Chinese scripture brought to Japan in the early ninth century. In this way, the chapter contends that the Fudō-Aizen cult was initially formed in Shingon as the result of integrating esoteric beliefs transmitted translocally from China to Japan into the local, conceptual network of rainmaking.

Series:

Volume-editor Ann Heirman, Carmen Meinert and Christoph Anderl