1st Edition

Esoteric Buddhism and Texts Volume II, Material Culture, Rituals, Arts, Construction of Sacred Space and Narratives in East Asia

Edited By Jinhua Chen Copyright 2024

    This book explores trans-cultural and cross-border transformation of Esoteric Buddhism in East Asia, focusing on the significance of Esoteric Buddhism in relation to some forms of material culture, including rituals, arts, and the construction of sacred space and narratives.

    In East Asia, Esoteric Buddhism’s influences can be seen across all levels of society: not only in that it achieved a recognizable sectarian identity, but also because elements of esoteric teachings were absorbed by other religious schools, influencing their philosophical tenets and everyday practices. The influence was not confined to the religious sphere: scholars have been paying more and more attention to the significance of Tang Esoteric Buddhism in relation to material culture and the dissemination of Esoteric Buddhist technologies in South, Central, and East Asia. No matter how one looks at a maṇḍala—an integral feature of esoteric practice—or the uncannily expressive statues of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas or Yidam that come in all shapes and sizes, or the murals that depict the variegated, mysterious themes of the esoteric tradition, one can always recognise the profound connection between art and Esoteric Buddhism. Esoteric Influences also abound in East Asian literature across different genres, displaying its unique characters both in poetry and prose. Likewise, in architecture, one can readily make out the enigmatic, colorful and distinctive elements characteristic of the esoteric tradition. Monks initiated into the esoteric lineages not only brought Buddhist classics and practices to China, but also advanced knowledge in astronomy, calendarial calculations and mathematical theories.

    The chapters in this volume investigate the profound and far-reaching impacts wrought by Esoteric Buddhism on rituals, arts, and the construction of sacred space and narratives in East Asia. This book will be beneficial to advanced students and researchers interested in Religious Studies, History and Buddhist studies. It was originally published as a special issue of Studies in Chinese Religions.


    Jinhua Chen


    Part I: Mantra/Dhāraṇī and Esoteric Rituals


    1. Image, ritual and mantra: a study on Esoteric rituals of Dipper Mother Mārīcī

    Shu-Wei Hsieh


    2. Chinese and Tibetan Sources on the Dhāraṇī in Roll Seven of the *Śūraṃgama-sūtra

    George A. Keyworth


    3. Interpretation of the Unique Dhāraṇīs: Focusing on the Shi Moheyan lun 釋摩訶衍論

    Jiyun Kim


    Part II: Esoteric Arts


    4. Chinese visual texts, Japanese spatial contexts: Mandala installation and the reading of empowered space in Japan

    Pamela D. Winfield


    5. Dome of Heaven: the role of esoteric Buddhism in the Hall of heavenly kings at mogao

    Neil Schmid


    6. Images of thousand-armed and thousand-eyed Avalokiteśvara with Cintāmaṇicakra and Amoghapāśa as attendants: References to the chanting of the ‘Dabeixin Dhāraṇī’ 大悲心陀羅尼

    Tamami Hamada


    Part III: Sacred Space and Narratives


    7. Examining Amoghavajra’s flat-earth cosmology: religious vs. scientific worldviews in Buddhist astrology

    Jeffrey Kotyk


    8. Ximing monastery’s esoteric Buddhist traditions

    Ru Zhan


    9. Eison, Monkan, and the cult of founders in medieval Japan: on the construction of narrative and material selves in East Asian Buddhism

    David Quinter


    Jinhua Chen, Fellow of Royal Society of Canada, is Professor of East Asian Religions at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, and a Visiting Professor at several major universities, including TokyoU (2003-04) and Stanford (2012). He has published extensively on state-church relationships, monastic biographical literature, sacred sites, relic veneration, Buddhism and technology.