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A great number of historical examples show how desperate people sought to obtain a glimpse of the future or explain certain incidents retrospectively through signs that had occurred in advance. In that sense, signs are always considered a portent of future events. In different societies, and at different times, the written or unwritten rules regarding their interpretation varied, although there was perhaps a common understanding of these processes.
This present volume collates essays from specialists in the field of prognostication in the European Middle Ages.
Contributors are Klaus Herbers, Wolfram Brandes, Zhao Lu, Rolf Scheuermann, Thomas Krümpel, Bernardo Bertholin Kerr, Gaelle Bosseman, Julia Eva Wannenmacher (†), Matthias Kaup, Vincent Gossaert, Jürgen Gebhardt, Matthias Gebauer, Richard Landes.
Editor / Translator: Daniel Canaris
The True Record of the Lord of Heaven (Tianzhu shilu, 1584) by the Jesuit missionary Michele Ruggieri was the first Chinese-language work ever published by a European. Despite being published only a few years after Ruggieri started learning Chinese, it evinced sophisticated strategies to accommodate Christianity to the Chinese context and was a pioneering work in Sino-Western exchange. This book features a critical edition of the Chinese and Latin texts, which are both translated into English for the first time. An introduction, biography, and rich annotations are provided to situate this text in its cultural and intellectual context.
Buddhist Statecraft in East Asia explores the long relationship between Buddhism and the state in premodern times and seeks to counter the modern, secularist notion that Buddhism, as a religion, is inherently apolitical. By revealing the methods by which members of Buddhist communities across premodern East Asia related to imperial rule, this volume offers case studies of how Buddhists, their texts, material culture, ideas, and institutions legitimated rulers and defended regimes across the region.
The volume also reveals a history of Buddhist writing, protest, and rebellion against the state.
Contributors are Stephanie Balkwill, James A. Benn, Megan Bryson, Gregory N. Evon, Geoffrey C. Goble, Richard D. McBride II, and Jacqueline I. Stone.
Author: Gregory N. Evon

Abstract

Offering a long view on the relationship between Buddhism and statecraft in the Korean context, this paper focuses on the Koryŏ 高麗 (936–1392)-Chosŏn 朝鮮 (1392–1910) transition when popular sentiment toward Buddhist means of statecraft was waning. Commencing with an overview of Koryŏ procedures of Buddhist statecraft, the study continues with an analysis of Chosŏn attitudes toward the region’s Buddhist past and exposes how notable Chosŏn politicians openly criticized Buddhism, situating it as a problem for statecraft and not a support. Revealing how statecraft was subsequently restructured in the Chosŏn to more closely align with Confucian norms than Buddhist ones, the paper ultimately suggests that Chosŏn rulers maintained an arms-length relationship with Buddhists and their traditions as a means of appeasing their populace. As such, the paper argues that the traditional alignment between Buddhism and the state in Korea had always been as much about statecraft as religious ideology or conviction.

Open Access
In: Buddhist Statecraft in East Asia

Abstract

A detailed study of the esoteric turn taken in state-protection Buddhism by the Tang 唐 (618–907) court, this paper focuses on the patronage of the esoteric master Amoghavajra (Bukong jin’gang 不空金剛) (704/5–774) at the court of Tang Daizong 代宗 (r. 762–779). In particular, and using a rare piece of entombed biography (muzhi 墓誌) as its source material, the study highlights the unique role of the “Commissioner of Merit and Virtue” (gongde shi 功德使) at the court and exposes how the person who held this role was both a commander of imperial troops as well as an administrator of Buddhist clergy. Ultimately, the paper positions Amoghavajra and the rise of his esoteric tradition within the Tang need for an imperial religion supported by a Buddhist-military complex and therefore adds valuable new data to the study of religion and state violence.

Open Access
In: Buddhist Statecraft in East Asia
Author: Megan Bryson

Abstract

This paper connects the visual depictions of Dali Kingdom 大理 (937–1253) rulers in the Dali-produced Painting of Buddhist Images (Fanxiang juan 梵像卷) with traditions of imperial support and legitimation connected to the Scripture for Humane Kings (Renwang jing 仁王經), a text that was integral to the state-protection Buddhism of the Chinese Tang (618–907) dynasty. Arguing that the expression of the Dali rulers in the painting as “Humane Kings” served to elevate the status of the Dali ruler over and above that of the Chinese Song 宋 dynasty (960–1279) ruler, the study shows how procedures of Buddhist statecraft are constructed in hybrid and regionally-specific ways in order to serve localized political narratives and programs of state legitimation. Specifically, in the case of Dali, such procedures allowed for the independent assertion of imperial authority and cultural distinctiveness against the backdrop of China.

Open Access
In: Buddhist Statecraft in East Asia
In: Buddhist Statecraft in East Asia

Abstract

This study explores the ways in which King Chinhŭng (r. 540–576) of Silla 新羅 (trad. 57 BCE–935 CE) deployed Buddhist symbolism, architecture, and ritual as a means of supporting his rule and legitimating his power. To explore the Buddhist Statecraft of King Chinhŭng, the paper introduces us to the first of Silla’s Buddhist monastic overseers, an emigré Koguryŏ monk named Hyeryang 惠亮 (fl. 540–576), who aided the King in his establishment and implementation of state-protection rituals. Both the ecclesiastical position of the monk and his program of Buddhist statecraft expose important connections between the Buddhism of Silla and that of China; however, much of the imagery involved in the creation of the King’s Buddhist identity reveals an equally important commitment to Indian Buddhism and Indic notions of an ideal ruler. In sum, the study demonstrates that modalities of Buddhist statecraft are inherently syncretic and dynamically re-created across the spectrum of East Asia.

Open Access
In: Buddhist Statecraft in East Asia

Abstract

By asking the question of how Empress Dowager Ling’s (d. 528) posthumous name—Ling 靈—was heard and understood by the people who lived in the Northern Wei 北魏 (386–534) capital of Luoyang in the sixth century and who saw the demise of their court, their Empress Dowager, and their city, this paper probes the nature of the Empress Dowager’s contested rule and her close affiliation with Buddhists and Buddhist institutions. The paper highlights certain and particular ambivalence toward Buddhist statecraft at the court of the Empress Dowager and reveals that her own patronage of the Buddhist tradition was not supported by her courtiers who believed Buddhism to be an increasingly defiled and dangerous source of social and political power in their time. Finally, this paper argues that, to her supporters, the name Ling was auspicious and associated with popular Buddhist ritual; whereas, to her detractors, the name suggested the unnatural usurpation of political order associated with popular Buddhist rebellion.

Open Access
In: Buddhist Statecraft in East Asia

Abstract

This study examines the fuju fuse 不受不施 (“neither giving nor receiving”) controversy that divided the Nichiren sect in seventeenth-century Japan, highlighting the issue of Buddhist resistance to the state. Rooted in the founder Nichiren’s (1222–1282) teaching of exclusive devotion to the Lotus Sūtra, fuju fuse doctrine meant that a Nichiren priest should neither accept donations from, nor perform ritual services for, nonbelievers in the Lotus, to avoid complicity with “slander of the True Dharna.” Fuju fuse proponents accordingly refused to participate in state-sponsored ceremonies or to receive offerings from rulers who were not Lotus devotees, asserting the claims of the dharma over those of worldly rule. Their stance proved intolerable to the newly established Tokugawa shogunate, which sought to subordinate Buddhist temples within its own ideology and bureaucratic structure. Faced with government threats, the Nichiren sect divided over whether to compromise the strict fuju fuse principle to ensure institutional survival. Eventually, the conciliatory faction gained control of the sect, while committed fuju fuse adherents suffered arrest, exile, and execution. By way of historical analysis, the chapter situates fuju fuse resistance within a long, transregional tradition of Buddhist moral exemplars who defied the state.

Open Access
In: Buddhist Statecraft in East Asia