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From Serindia to Japan: A Sketch of the Buddhist Library of Ximing Monastery in the Eighth-Century Chang’an

  • Xiang WangEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

Presented in the cultural context of medieval Chang’an city and the broader network of Silk Road Buddhism from Serindia to Japan, this article provides a study on the libraries of Ximingsi (Ximing Monastery) and its celebrated tripitaka (Buddhist canon) from the eighth to the early ninth century. First of all, the Putiyuan library at Ximingsi, established by the Indian master Subhakarasimha (637–735), bore witness to multiple projects of scriptural translation, including the gems of esoteric literature that attracted generations of Japanese dharma seekers to cross the ocean. On the basis of the Putiyuan collection and other major bibliothecas, the Buddhist exegetes at Ximingsi produced a standard Zhenyuan shijiaolu (Zhenyuan Catalogue) employed in the subsequent ninth century, as criteria for monastic collections all over East Asia. This remarkable catalogue represented not only the highest achievement in Buddhist bibliography, but also a remarkable testimony to the build-up of the monastic collections at Ximingsi until 800. After the Zhenyuan Catalogue was transmitted to Japan, it became the benchmark catalogue on which some regional temples in the fledging political entity began to build up their libraries. The Library of Ximingsi is an excellent point of departure for the investigation of a number of topics of Buddhist manuscript culture, including monastic collection, Buddhist bibliography and the rich history of cultural exchanges along the ancient Silk Road among Central Asia, Tang China and medieval Japan.

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.General Education Office, United International CollegeZhuhaiChina

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