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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.

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Henrik H. Sørensen

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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.

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Ann Heirman

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When discussing Buddhism in ancient India and China, monasteries always occupy a central place, as monastic life is a major factor in the creation of Buddhist identity. In all kinds of texts, and certainly in disciplinary texts, monastic life therefore receives a great deal of attention: monks represent the Buddhist community and the Dharma. This is also the case with respect to bodily care. Although bodily care practices might seem trivial, they reveal what the community stands for, at least normatively. In this paper, I discuss how this normative ideal was transferred from India to China, taking into account the role of Buddhist monastics in the social networks to which they belonged. I explore how the threshold for becoming a monk advanced over time, with purity attaining an ever more central position in Buddhist discourse on bodily care.

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Bart Dessein

Abstract

This contribution argues that one’s Buddhist identity is not a monolithic singularity, but a layered construct, consisting of the acceptance of the Buddha-word (Buddhavacana) as one’s core Buddhist identity, one’s particular monastic school and code as a first layer around this Buddhist ‘nucleus,’ and philosophical interpretations of the Buddha-word as the outer layer of one’s Buddhist identity. These three layers are represented in the traditional three collections of Buddhist literature (tripiṭaka): Sūtra, Vinaya, and Abhidharma. The ‘canonical’ status of the Abhidharma collection is the least stable of these three. The ‘Abhidharmic’ layer is therefore the layer that enables ‘networking,’ as the acceptance of the Buddha-word and one’s monastic affiliation are beyond negotiation. It is to this intricate connection between identity formation, canonisation, and networking in the Indian and Chinese political spheres that the subsequent pages are devoted.

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Claudine Bautze-Picron

Abstract

Whereas the historical connections of Bagan with India, Ceylon or China from the eleventh to thirteenth centuries are generally known, the art-historical consequences of these exchanges have only partly been appreciated. The purpose of this paper is to present unpublished aspects of late thirteenth-century murals found in some temples at the site and which are more particularly related to the Yuan connection. The overwhelming presence of ornamental motifs with a Chinese or Mongol origin aside, specific iconographic motifs, e.g., the representation of Mongols, the depiction of dreadful door-keepers, or the image of the short-necked Buddha will presently retain our attention.

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Uganda Sze Pui Kwan

Abstract

James Summers occupied the professorship of Chinese for two decades at King’s College London. He was also a trailblazer in promoting the study of Japanese culture in Victorian Britain, but he has been an underrated and understudied figure in British history.

Summers was an ardent supporter of modern printing. He believed printed media was the most effective medium to transform British perceptions of Asia, which in turn would help support Britain’s foreign political, commercial and missionary enterprise. He also orchestrated the printing of catalogues and journals in his capacity as library assistant to the British Museum and the India Office Library. He even set up his own press to print a newspaper in order to disseminate knowledge of East Asia to a broader readership. Based on primary materials that have rarely been used before, this paper positions Summers in the study of book history, material culture and print mediums in order to reassess his pioneering efforts in Sinological studies.

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Jamie Jungmin Yoo

Abstract

This research aims to revisit the study of the Ch’ŏngjanggwan chŏnsŏ (Complete works of Yi Tŏngmu, 1741-1793), with particular emphasis on its collaborative production, transmission, and modern appropriation. By analyzing eight different versions from North America, Japan, Korea, and China, I explore how each text was constructed by multiple agencies and constantly transformed through historical transmission. In the process of the collaborative production of the book, the selection of a primary author’s work was reinterpreted by the choices of those who received and collected the given collection of Yi’s writings. Although Yi is considered the author, each manuscript collection was transformed without his knowledge or consent. Thus, through a complex process of adaptation and transformation, a multiplicity of agencies involved in the production of the book have filtered and negotiated the author’s original intention. Addressing the notion of “social authorship,” this research challenges the solitary author model as well as the notion of canon as a complete and fixed entity. All the texts examined in this study were cultural and social products. Ch’ŏngjanggwan chŏnsŏ was produced and transformed through constant negotiations among the original author, editors, and readers. Although it has been valued as one of the most important literary canons of late Chosŏn, the collection was not a closed set of texts; rather, the particular set of texts in any version is “fluid and flexible,” and transformation during transmission was expected.