Buddhism Material Culture
by
John Kieschnick
  • LAST REVIEWED: 05 May 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 23 March 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195393521-0002

Introduction

The study of material culture belongs to a relatively young discipline that examines artifacts as well as ideas about, and practices related to, artifacts, with artifacts defined as material objects created or modified by people. Aspects of research in material culture overlap with art history, archaeology, and anthropology, but studies in material culture approach the subject from a different perspective, focusing on areas not necessarily emphasized in these disciplines. Unlike traditional art history, material culture studies concentrate on the function of objects, devoting little attention to their aesthetic qualities, with more emphasis, for instance, on miracles associated with icons than on the style or iconography of icons; unlike traditional archaeology, material culture studies do not necessarily focus on extant artifacts, giving as much attention to references to objects in texts as to extant objects; and, unlike traditional anthropology, material culture studies often give great emphasis to historical development, often over vast expanses of time. While the field of material culture studies has flourished for decades, religious studies have been slow to recognize the importance of material things. Many areas of religion in which material culture plays a prominent role remain largely unexplored, including the place of objects in ritual, religious emotion, pilgrimage, and doctrine. Readers interested in the material culture of Buddhism will want to consult entries for Buddhist art, archaeology, and anthropology as well; in the entries below, the focus is on areas of material culture not necessarily emphasized in these disciplines as well as on studies within these disciplines that are especially relevant to the study of material culture. The term visual culture overlaps with much of what is considered material culture, but excludes objects associated with other senses, such as taste, smell, and touch, which are covered by the term material culture. The material culture approach is particularly well suited for exploring the qualities of particular classes of objects. What is it about relics as body parts that accounts for their appeal? Why are miracles so often associated with physical representations of holy figures and how do these differ from textual representations? How do clothing and food differ from language as a medium of communication? To highlight this aspect of research in Buddhist material culture, the scholarship listed below is divided according to type of object. At the same time, material culture studies also offer an opportunity to examine attitudes toward the material world as applied to a wide variety of objects normally separated by discipline. The doctrine of merit inspired the creation of a wide variety of different types of objects, and the monastic ideal of renunciation permeates many different areas of Buddhist material culture.

General Overviews

No general study of Buddhist material culture is available as yet, and the major encyclopedias of Buddhism do not include entries for “material culture.” Even encyclopedias of religion do not contain entries for material culture. Most of the best general work on religion and material culture has been done by scholars working on American religion. Representative works include McDannell 1995 and Morgan 2005. The journal Material Religion: The Journal of Objects, Art and Belief is the primary outlet for new articles on religion and material culture, and often includes scholarship on Buddhist material culture. Kieschnick 2008, while addressing the place of objects in religious emotion in general, also provides discussion specific to Buddhism. Regionally, Karlsson 2006 provides the best overview of the material culture of early Buddhism. Kieschnick 2003 and Rambelli 2007 provide brief overviews of Buddhist attitudes toward the material world in their introductions before turning to examine China and Japan, respectively. Thematically, Proser 2010 provides a broad introduction to the place of material culture in Buddhist pilgrimage, while Gerhart 2009 explores the role of material culture in the specific, but prevalent, area of death ritual in Japan. Bogel 2009 is especially useful for discussion of material culture in Buddhist ritual.

  • Bogel, Cynthea J. With a Single Glance: Buddhist Icon and Early Mikkyō Vision. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2009.

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    A wide-ranging study of esoteric visual culture in East Asia in the 8th and 9th centuries that covers free-standing icons, mandalas, robes, ritual implements and architecture, drawing on archaeology, ritual texts and—especially worthy of note—literary works.

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    • Gerhart, Karen M. The Material Culture of Death in Medieval Japan. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2009.

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      Examines funerals of lay people and monks in medieval Japan with particular attention to objects employed in the funeral rites. While not exclusively Buddhist, much of the material presented here is tied closely to Buddhism.

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      • Karlsson, Klemens. “The Formation of Early Buddhist Visual Culture.” Material Religion 2.1 (March 2006): 68–95.

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        Overview of visual culture in early Indian Buddhism, including informed discussion of aniconism, ornament, and the first images of the Buddha, that takes into account competing theories and attempts to provide an overall chronology for the formation of a distinctively Buddhist visual culture.

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        • Kieschnick, John. The Impact of Buddhism on Chinese Material Culture. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003.

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          An overview of Buddhist attitudes toward objects along with case studies of the histories of particular Buddhist objects in China, including icons, relics, the monastic uniform, the rosary, the ruyi sceptre, books, monasteries, bridges, the chair, and sugar and tea, grouped under the headings of sacred power, symbolism, merit, and accidents and incidentals.

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          • Kieschnick, John. “Material Culture.” In The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Emotion. Edited by John Corrigan, 223–237. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

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            A survey of the relationship between religious objects and emotions that includes some reference to Buddhism.

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            • Material Religion: The Journal of Objects, Art and Belief.

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              Established in 2005, publishing three issues a year, this is one of the major outlets for new research on religion and material culture, often containing articles on Buddhism.

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              • McDannell, Colleen. Material Christianity: Religion and Popular Culture in America. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995.

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                Provides a useful introduction, with working definitions of material culture, and details the reluctance of scholars of religion to address material culture. This is followed by case studies on, among other topics, the Bible as object, a Christian cemetery, Mormon clothing, and Christian retailing, all of which have parallels in Buddhism.

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                • Morgan, David. The Sacred Gaze: Religious Visual Culture in Theory and Practice. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005.

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                  Provides a thorough discussion of the term visual culture and the use of images in religion, including a perceptive analysis of idolatry and iconoclasm, as well as a discussion of gender and nationalism in the use of images. This work contains occasional references to Buddhism, but for specialists in Buddhism it is of interest primarily for comparative purposes.

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                  • Proser, Adriana. Pilgrimage and Buddhist Art. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010.

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                    Catalogue of objects associated with Buddhist pilgrimage from across Asia, including icons, illustrated manuscripts, banners, paintings, maps, monks’ staffs, prayer wheels, vajras, amulets, portable shrines, mementos, and votive objects. Opens with a series of brief essays on Buddhist pilgrimage in different regions. Entries for individual items are excellent, with reference to relevant scholarship.

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                    • Rambelli, Fabio. Buddhist Materiality: A Cultural History of Objects in Japanese Buddhism. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2007.

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                      Draws on a wide variety of sources to examine attitudes toward Buddhist objects and their role in the history of Japanese religion from medieval times to the present. Includes a detailed discussion of the debate in East Asian Buddhism on the soteriology of inanimate things, as well as on the role of objects in the sacralization of everyday life in Japan.

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                      Icons

                      Images have attracted more scholarly attention than any other form of Buddhist material culture, inspiring a wide variety of approaches to analyze a vast body of material in museums, temples, and private collections throughout the Buddhist world as well as discussion of icons in both canonical and noncanonical Buddhist writings. A few representative works that explore ideas about icons and how they were used are listed here. In discussion of the function of Buddhist images in India, much of the attention has been on whether or not early Buddhist art is, in fact, aniconic and on whether or not there were reservations about representing the Buddha in early Buddhism (Huntington 1990, Swearer 2004) as well as and on the origins of the first images of the Buddha (Schopen 1997). Swearer 2004 is a study of perhaps the most important ritual associated with icons: consecration. Zürcher 1995 and Foulk 2001 provide clear overviews of the various ritual and extra-ritual uses of icons in Chinese Buddhism, while Sharf 2001 provides the best introduction to the various functions of icons in Japanese Buddhism. Davis 1998 is a useful starting point for exploring miracles associated with Buddhist images. The strong emotions elicited by icons and the doctrinal difficulties they have inspired are most vividly captured in acts of destruction, detailed in both Demiéville 1974 and Faure 1998.

                      • Davis, Richard H. Images, Miracles, and Authority in Asian Religious Traditions. Boulder, CO: Westview 1998.

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                        A collection of essays on miraculous images by six scholars focused on Buddhist images and drawing on material from India, China, and Japan.

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                        • Demiéville, Paul. “L’iconoclasme anti-bouddhique en Chine.” In Mélanges d’Histoire des Religions offerts à Henri-Charles Puech. 17–25. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1974.

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                          An early and still unsurpassed exploration of iconoclasm in Chinese Buddhism.

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                          • Faure, Bernard. “The Buddhist Icon and the Modern Gaze.” Critical Inquiry 24 (Spring 1998): 768–813.

                            DOI: 10.1086/448893Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                            Reflections on the perception of Buddhist icons by modern Western intellectuals, and an assessment of what is lost when a Buddhist image is removed from its original context.

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                            • Foulk, T. Griffith. “Religious Functions of Buddhist Art in China.” In Cultural Intersections in Later Chinese Buddhism. Edited by Marsha Weidner, 13–29. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2001.

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                              An overview of the various uses of Buddhist art in China, from ritual to ornament.

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                              • Huntington, Susan L. “Early Buddhist Art and the Theory of Aniconism.” Art Journal 49.4 (1990): 401–408.

                                DOI: 10.2307/777142Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                Controversial article arguing that early Buddhist art depicts devotees venerating objects (trees, wheels, footprints, etc.) rather than scenes from the life of the Buddha in which the Buddha has been replaced by symbols in response to a taboo on creating images of the Buddha, as most scholars previously argued.

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                                • Schopen, Gregory. “On Monks, Nuns and ‘Vulgar’ Practices: The Introduction of the Image Cult into Indian Buddhism.” In Bones, Stones, and Buddhist Monks. Collected Papers on the Archaeology, Epigraphy, and Texts of Monastic Buddhism in India. By Gregory Schopen, 238–257. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1997.

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                                  An attempt to demonstrate through the use of inscriptions that the first to create images of the Buddha were not lay people, but erudite monks and nuns. This argument questions the generally held assumption that the creation of the first images of the Buddha was a concession to the demands of lay piety.

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                                  • Sharf, Elizabeth Horton, and Robert H. Sharf, eds. The Living Image: Japanese Buddhist Icons in Context. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001.

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                                    A collection of essays on Buddhist icons in Japan with an emphasis on their function in monasteries. The introduction to the volume includes a useful survey of scholarship on the function of icons in Buddhism, including analysis of why scholars have been slow to address the topic.

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                                    • Swearer, Donald K. Becoming the Buddha: The Ritual of Image Consecration in Thailand. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004.

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                                      Thorough, reliable treatment of image consecration in Thai Buddhism as well as an overview of the place of Buddhist images in Thailand and how they are made. Includes a helpful overview of the debate about alleged aniconism in early Buddhism, and also explores the relationship between Buddhist images and relics.

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                                      • Zürcher, Erik. “Buddhist Art in Medieval China: The Ecclesiastical View.” In Function and Meaning in Buddhist Art. Edited by K. R. van Kooij and H. van der Veere, 1–20. Groningen, The Netherlands: Egbert Forsten, 1995.

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                                        Provides a clear overview of how elite monks interpreted and made use of Buddhist art, arguing that aesthetic considerations were secondary to ritual concerns.

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                                        Relics

                                        For material culture studies, relics are especially interesting for how they compare with other areas of material culture, in particular icons. Like icons and sacred books, one can gain merit through venerating relics; also like icons and, to a lesser extent, sacred books, relics are sources of sacred power and miracles. But unlike these objects, relics are found rather than fashioned. After a long period in which relics were ignored in scholarship on Buddhism, research on Buddhist relics has flourished in recent decades. It is now possible to consult reliable studies on Buddhist relics in various regions, including India (Schopen 1997, Schopen 2004), Sri Lanka (Trainor 1997), China (Wang 2005), and Japan (Ruppert 2000). The best introduction to the topic is Strong 2004. A collection of essays on relics from various parts of the Buddhist world is found in Germano and Trainor 2004, providing useful comparisons for relics in different traditions (including, in one case, a comparison with Christian relics) and different approaches to the topic. A key issue in the history of relics is the extent to which different social groups adopt different attitudes toward them. The issue of whether or not the cult of relics originated among the laity is explored in Schopen 1997, and Ruppert 2000 describes how different types of people in medieval Japan employed relics differently. Hawkes and Shimada 2009 is provided as a representative work of the now considerable scholarship on the stupa, while Willis 2000 is an example of research on the smaller containers for relics usually housed inside of stupas.

                                        • Germano, David, and Kevin Trainor, eds. Embodying the Dharma: Buddhist Relic Veneration in Asia. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2004.

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                                          A collection of six articles and a lengthy introduction examining relics in India, Tibet, Japan, and Thailand. Taken together, the essays provide a useful overview to the cult of relics throughout the Buddhist world. The contributions by John Strong, drawing on accounts of both Christian and Buddhist relics, have implications for the study of religious material culture more generally.

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                                          • Hawkes, Jason, and Akira Shimada, eds. Buddhist Stupas in South Asia. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

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                                            A collection of sixteen essays that includes an overview of the history of the stupa in South Asia, the history of their study, and case studies of particular stupas.

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                                            • Ruppert, Brian Douglas. Jewel in the Ashes: Buddha Relics and Power in Early Medieval Japan. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000.

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                                              An analysis of relics in medieval Japan that provides rich social context for how relics were seen and used by various types of people, including rulers, women, and samurai, for a variety of purposes, including devotion, political power, wealth, prestige, and healing.

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                                              • Schopen, Gregory. Bones, Stones, and Buddhist Monks: Collected Papers on the Archaeology, Epigraphy, and Texts of Monastic Buddhism in India. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1997.

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                                                This collection of Schopen’s work includes several essays on the treatment of relics in the monastic regulations and in inscriptions in ancient Indian Buddhism.

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                                                • Schopen, Gregory. Buddhist Monks and Business Matters. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2004.

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                                                  A collection of Schopen’s writings, including essays on funerals and relics in ancient Indian Buddhism.

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                                                  • Strong, John S. Relics of the Buddha. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004.

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                                                    A reliable, detailed survey of the history and function of relics in Buddhism.

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                                                    • Trainor, Kevin. Relics, Ritual, and Representation in Buddhism: Rematerializing the Sri Lankan Theravada Tradition. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

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                                                      Pioneering study of relic veneration in Sri Lanka, focused on the premodern period and based primarily on Pali chronicles, though with some reference to contemporary practice.

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                                                      • Wang, Eugene Y. “Of the True Body: The Famen Monastery Relics and Corporeal Transformation in Tang Imperial Culture.” In Body and Face in Chinese Visual Culture. Edited by Wu Hung and Katherine R. Tsiang, 79–118. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005.

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                                                        A study of one of the most famous Buddhist relics in Chinese history, the Famen relic, with an overview of the veneration of relics in medieval China and reflections on the relationship of relics to notions of the Buddha’s body.

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                                                        • Willis, Michael. Buddhist Reliquaries from Ancient India. London: British Museum Press, 2000.

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                                                          Catalog of reliquaries from Sānchī, Satdhāra, Sonāri, Bhojpur, and Andher. The introduction includes useful discussion of the terminology and typology of relic containers.

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                                                          Scripture as Object

                                                          While the study of scripture has always been fundamental to the study of Buddhism, relatively little research has been done on the material culture of Buddhist books—that is, how they were manufactured, how they were used for both practical and devotional purposes and beliefs about scriptures as sacred objects. Schopen 1975 and Kinnard 2002 address the key theme of the emergence of the cult of the book in Mahāyāna Buddhism. Boucher 1991 provides a classic example of the direct equivalents drawn between the Buddha Dharma in written form and relics in a study of the use of the pratītyasamutpādagātha formula to consecrate stupas. Berkwitz, et al. 2009 provides a good overview of the ways in which Buddhist manuscripts have been manufactured and employed throughout the Buddhist world. Campany 1991 and Kieschnick 2001 describe devotional practices related to Buddhist scripture in China. Tsiang 2005, Tanabe and Tanabe 1989, and Wang 2005 explore attempts to represent scripture in painting and sculpture in China and Japan.

                                                          • Berkwitz, Stephen, Juliane Schober, and Claudia Brown. Buddhist Manuscript Cultures: Knowledge, Ritual and Art. London: Routledge, 2009.

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                                                            A collection of ten essays divided into four sections: ideologies, production, curating, and art and architecture. The majority of the essays treat South and Southeast Asia, but other regions are discussed as well.

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                                                            • Boucher, Daniel. “The Pratītyasamutpādagātha and Its Role in the Medieval Cult of Relics.” Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 14.1 (1991): 1–27.

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                                                              Examines the use of the pratītyasamutpādagātha formula in stupas and other reliquaries as an equivalent of relics.

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                                                              • Campany, Robert F. “Notes on the Devotional Uses and Symbolic Functions of Sūtra Texts as Depicted in Early Chinese Buddhist Miracle Tales and Hagiographies.” Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 14.1 (1991): 28–72.

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                                                                Draws on miracle tales to show how Buddhist scriptures were used in medieval China.

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                                                                • Kieschnick, John. “Blood Writing in Chinese Buddhism.” Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 23.2 (2001): 177–194.

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                                                                  A description and analysis of the practice of copying scriptures in one’s own blood as an act of devotion and asceticism in Chinese Buddhism.

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                                                                  • Kinnard, Jacob N. “On Buddhist ‘Bibliolaters’: Representing and Worshiping the Book in Medieval Indian Buddhism.” Eastern Buddhist 34.2 (2002): 94–113.

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                                                                    Examines representations of Buddhist books in Indian sculpture in conjunction with analysis of the rhetoric of the cult of the book in Mahayana scriptures.

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                                                                    • Schopen, Gregory. “The Phrase ‘sa pṛthivīpradeśaś caityabhūto bhavet’ in the Vajracchedikā: Notes on the Cult of the Book in Mahāyāna.” Indo-Iranian Journal 17.3–4 (November–December 1975): 147–181.

                                                                      DOI: 10.1007/BF00221011Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                      Seminal article on the cult of the book in early Mahāyāna Buddhism.

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                                                                      • Tanabe, George Joji, and Willa Jane Tanabe, eds. The Lotus Sutra in Japanese Culture. Papers presented at the first International Conference on The Lotus Sutra and Japanese Culture, held at the University of Hawaii in 1984. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1989.

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                                                                        A collection of ten essays on the Lotus Sutra. Of these, Miya Tsugio’s “Pictorial Art of the Lotus Sutra in Japan” is the most directly relevant for the study of material culture, but other essays in the volume make reference to uses of physical copies of the scripture as well.

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                                                                        • Tsiang, Katherine R. “Embodiments of Buddhist Texts in Early Medieval Chinese Visual Culture.” In Body and Face in Chinese Visual Culture. Edited by Wu Hung and Katherine R. Tsiang, 49–78. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005.

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                                                                          Examines Buddhist scriptures engraved in stone in 6th-century China, drawing links between engraved scripture, icons, and relics.

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                                                                          • Wang, Eugene. Shaping the Lotus: Buddhist Visual Culture in Medieval China. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2005.

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                                                                            Well-illustrated, densely detailed study of representations and transformations of motifs from the Lotus Sutra in China in painting, sculpture, and architecture, including a discussion of manufacture and use.

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                                                                            Ritual Objects and Amulets

                                                                            Aside from icons, relics, and scripture, scholarship on other forms of Buddhist material culture is sparse. One area in particular that seems ripe for exploration is Buddhist ritual objects, for which there is ample textual and archaeological material, most of which can be studied in conjunction with contemporary ethnology. Morse 2004 provides a brief overview of the field and a taxonomy of Buddhist ritual objects. Regionally, research has focused on Tibet (Huntington 1975, Simpson 1896, Hunter 1985) and Japan (Morse and Morse 1995, Saunders 1960). Durt 1929– provides an overview of one of many of the standard accoutrements of East Asian monasteries. Tambiah 1984 and Douglass 1978 address a class of objects—amulets—that are sacralized through ritual, but that play a pervasive role in everyday life.

                                                                            • Douglass, Nik. Tibetan Tantric Charms and Amulets: 230 Examples Reproduced from Original Woodblocks. New York: Dover, 1978.

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                                                                              Collection of reproductions of woodblock prints of Tibetan amulets and charms intended for prayer flags and prayer beads, to be worn, burnt, or consumed, with a brief introduction describing their manufacture and use.

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                                                                              • Durt, Hubert. “Chōmyōtō 長明燈.” In Hōbōgirin: Dictionnaire encyclopédique du bouddhisme d’après les sources chinoises et japonaises. Edited by Jacques May et al., 360–365. Paris: Adrien Maisonneuve, 1929–.

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                                                                                A brief overview of the “ever-burning lamp,” a common fixture in Buddhist monasteries.

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                                                                                • Hunter, Alvin. “Tibetan Prayer Wheels.” Arts of Asia 15 (1985): 74–81.

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                                                                                  A general description of Tibetan prayer wheels. No reference to scholarship or original sources, but contains useful description of types of prayer wheels and is illustrated with photographs of a variety of types of prayer wheels.

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                                                                                  • Huntington, John C. “The Phur-Pa: Tibetan Ritual Daggers.” Artibus Asiae 33 (1975): 3–63.

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                                                                                    Short, well-illustrated monograph on the iconography and ritual function of phur-pa.

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                                                                                    • Morse, Anne Nishimura. “Ritual Objects.” In Encyclopedia of Buddhism. Edited by Robert E. Buswell Jr., 726–729. New York: Macmillan, 2004.

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                                                                                      A brief survey of Buddhist ritual objects with a very brief bibliography, reflecting the dearth of scholarship in the field.

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                                                                                      • Morse, Anne Nishimura, and Samuel Crowell Morse. Object as Insight: Japanese Buddhist Art & Ritual. Katonah, NY: Katonah Museum of Art, 1995.

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                                                                                        Exhibition catalogue of Japanese Buddhist ritual objects, including icons, banners, chimes, altar pieces, ritual manuals, monks’ staffs, robes, rosaries, censers, incense braziers, reliquaries, paintings, vajras, and bells, with introductory essays by four scholars on “Ritual in the Buddhist Temples of Japan,” “Space and Ritual: The Evolution of the Image Hall in Japan,” and “Japanese Decorative Arts: The Formative Period, 552–794.”

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                                                                                        • Saunders, E. Dale. Mudrā: A Study of Symbolic Gestures in Japanese Buddhist Sculpture. New York: Pantheon, 1960.

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                                                                                          The bulk of this book describes mudrās, but section four, “The Attributes,” discusses objects held in the hands of divinities, including conch shells, ropes, rosaries, vajras, swords, mirrors, and bells.

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                                                                                          • Simpson, William. The Buddhist Praying-Wheel: A Collection of Material Bearing upon the Symbolism of the Wheel and Circular Movements in Custom and Religious Ritual. New York: Macmillan, 1896.

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                                                                                            A study of the prayer wheel from more than one hundred years ago; dated in many respects, but sadly still the most thorough treatment of the topic.

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                                                                                            • Tambiah, Stanley. The Buddhist Saints of the Forest and the Cult of Amulets. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1984.

                                                                                              DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511558177Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                              A wide-ranging work that has received mixed reviews. Contains a lengthy section titled “The Cult of Amulets: The Objectification and Transmission of Charisma” that discusses sacralized objects in Thailand, including Buddhist amulets worn on the person.

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                                                                                              Clothing

                                                                                              Research on Buddhist clothing has focused on the symbolism of monastic robes and debates over the propriety of various innovations to the traditional monastic uniform. Tanabe 2004 gives a brief survey of monastic robes throughout the Buddhist world. Regionally, this has been done for Southeast Asia (Bizot 1993), China (Griswold 1963, Kieschnick 1999), and Japan (Faure 1995, Kennedy 1991). Salgado 2004 describes controversies over nuns’ robes in contemporary Sri Lanka. Adamek 2000 examines the use of a particular type of robe as a symbol of status and imperial favor in medieval China, while Silk 2003 explores lore about a robe passed down from one Buddha to the next as a means of legitimation for early Mahāyāna teachings. Riggs 2004 discusses the robe in relation to modernity and commercialization.

                                                                                              • Adamek, Wendi Leigh. “Robes Purple and Gold: Transmission of the Robe in the Lidai fabaoji (Record of the Dharma-Jewel through the Ages).” History of Religions 40.1 (August 2000): 58–81.

                                                                                                DOI: 10.1086/463616Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                The history of the “purple robe,” bequeathed to eminent monks by the emperor in medieval China.

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                                                                                                • Bizot, François. Le bouddhisme des Thaïs: Brève histoire de ses mouvements et de ses idées des origines à nos jours. Bangkok: Éditions de Cahiers de France, 1993.

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                                                                                                  Includes a survey of the history of monastic clothing in Thailand with reference to other parts of Southeast Asia as well.

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                                                                                                  • Faure, Bernard. “Quand l’habit fait le moine: The Symbolism of the Kāṣāya in Sōtō Zen.” Cahiers d’Extrême-Asie 8 (1995): 335–369.

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                                                                                                    Analysis of the symbolism of monastic robes in Sōtō Zen.

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                                                                                                    • Griswold, A. B. “Prolegomena to the Study of the Buddha’s Dress in Chinese Sculpture.” Artibus Asiae 26.2 (1963): 85–131.

                                                                                                      DOI: 10.2307/3249039Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                      Detailed description of monastic robes as reflected in Chinese statues of the Buddha.

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                                                                                                      • Kennedy, Alan. Manteau de nuages: Kesa japonais. Paris: Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 1991.

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                                                                                                        Catalog of extant Chinese and Japanese Monastic robes from the 18th and 19th centuries. Richly illustrated with a brief but useful introduction to the form, function, and history of monastic robes.

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                                                                                                        • Kieschnick, John. “The Symbolism of the Monk’s Robe in China.” Asia Major, 3d ser., 12.1 (1999): 9–32.

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                                                                                                          Study of changes in the monk’s robe in medieval China and debates over its symbolism.

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                                                                                                          • Riggs, Diane E. “Fukudenkai: Sewing the Buddha’s Robe in Contemporary Japanese Buddhist Practice.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 31.2 (2004): 311–356.

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                                                                                                            A study of sewing groups formed in modern Japan to create robes for Zen priests. Includes discussion of the symbolism of the robe, sewing robes as a form of self-cultivation, lay–monastic relations, and competition with the commercial industry that has grown up around the production of monastic robes.

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                                                                                                            • Salgado, Nirmala S. “Religious Identities of Buddhist Nuns: Training Precepts, Renunciant Attire, and Nomenclature in Theravāda Buddhism.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 72.4 (2004): 935–953.

                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1093/jaarel/lfh084Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                              Includes a section on controversies over the color that Buddhist nuns in Sri Lanka should be allowed to wear.

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                                                                                                              • Silk, Jonathan A. “Dressed for Success: The Monk Kāśyapa and Strategies of Legitimation in Earlier Mahāyāna Buddhist Scriptures.” Journal Asiatique 291.1–2 (2003): 137–172.

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                                                                                                                Analyzes legends of the link between the last Buddha, Śākayamuni, and the next one, Maitreya, through the figure of Kāśyapa as a means of legitimating Mahāyāna teachings. The robe, supposedly passed from Śākayamuni to Kāśyapa for safekeeping, is a central motif in these legends.

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                                                                                                                • Tanabe, Willa Jane. “Robes and Clothing.” In Encyclopedia of Buddhism. Edited by Robert E. Buswell Jr., 731–735. New York: Macmillan, 2004.

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                                                                                                                  Brief encyclopedia entry surveying the variety of Buddhist monastic robes.

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                                                                                                                  Food

                                                                                                                  From the perspective of material culture studies, research on Buddhist food should focus on particular types of food prepared in Buddhist contexts, food as an offering, and Buddhist attitudes toward food in general. What little work has been done on the subject has focused on vegetarianism among monastics in China (Mather 1981, Kieschnick 2005) and Japan (Jaffe 2005). Lu 2002 examines vegetarianism as a marker of identity and ascetic practice among lay women. The importance of food for distinguishing Buddhism from its rivals is emphasized for India in Ulrich 2007 and for China in Kleeman 1994. Benn 2005 addresses drinking habits among monks in China, while Ardussi 1977 discusses beer drinking in Tibetan yogic songs, providing an example of the rhetorical use of food in Buddhist writings. Langer 2007 provides a discussion of food offerings associated with death ritual. Thus far, little attempt has been made to relate Buddhist attitudes toward food to Buddhist attitudes toward other types of objects.

                                                                                                                  • Ardussi, John A. “Brewing and Drinking the Beer of Enlightenment: The Dohā Tradition in Tibet.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 97.2 (1977): 115–124.

                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.2307/599000Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                    Study of Tibetan yogic songs in which drinking beer is employed as a metaphor for meditation, with a brief discussion of the tension between monastic proscriptions on alcohol and the popularity of beer in Tibet.

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                                                                                                                    • Benn, James A. “Buddhism, Alcohol, and Tea in Medieval China.” In Of Tripod and Palate: Food, Politics and Religion in Traditional China. Edited by Roel Sterckx, 213–236. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

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                                                                                                                      On the role of Buddhism in the rise of tea drinking in medieval China as an alternative to alcohol.

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                                                                                                                      • Jaffe, Richard M. “The Debate over Meat Eating in Japanese Buddhism.” In Going Forth: Visions of Buddhist Vinaya. Edited by William M. Bodiford, 255–276. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2005.

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                                                                                                                        Concise narrative and analysis of the discussion and events, beginning in the 17th century, that led to the abandonment of vegetarianism in modern Japanese Buddhism.

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                                                                                                                        • Kieschnick, John. “Buddhist Vegetarianism in China.” In Of Tripod and Palate: Food, Politics and Religion in Traditional China. Edited by Roel Sterckx, 186–212. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

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                                                                                                                          A survey of the history of Chinese Buddhist vegetarianism, emphasizing that the associations between meat and decadence were at least as important in the history of vegetarianism as ethics.

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                                                                                                                          • Kleeman, Terry F. “Licentious Cults and Bloody Victuals: Sacrifice, Reciprocity and Violence in Traditional China.” Asia Major Third Series 7.1 (1994): 185–211.

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                                                                                                                            Study of sacrifice, the food of the gods, in premodern China that points out the centrality of animal sacrifice in both the state cult and in popular religion, in contrast to the condemnation of the practice in Buddhist and Daoist writings.

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                                                                                                                            • Langer, Rita. Buddhist Rituals of Death and Rebirth: Contemporary Sri Lankan Practice and Its Origins. London: Routledge, 2007.

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                                                                                                                              Includes a discussion of food offerings in the context of death ritual in contemporary Sri Lanka with reference to historical precedents.

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                                                                                                                              • Lu, Huitzu. “Women’s Ascetic Practices during the Song.” Asia Major 15.1 (2002): 73–108.

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                                                                                                                                Focuses on ascetic practices related to food among medieval Chinese Buddhist women.

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                                                                                                                                • Mather, Richard B. “The Bonze’s Begging Bowl: Eating Practices in Buddhist Monasteries of Medieval India and China.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 101.4 (1981): 417–424.

                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.2307/601214Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                  A study of eating practices in medieval monasteries, including eating before noon, begging, and vegetarianism.

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                                                                                                                                  • Ulrich, Katherine E. “Food Fights: Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain Dietary Polemics in South India.” History of Religions 46.3 (2007): 228–261.

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                                                                                                                                    Examines dietary polemics in South India between the 6th and the 11th centuries, highlighting how Buddhists distinguished themselves from Hindu and Jain followers on the basis of what they ate and didn’t eat.

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                                                                                                                                    Monasteries

                                                                                                                                    Much of the scholarship on the material culture of Buddhist monasteries has focused on architecture (Döhring 2000, Prip-Møller 1982, Huntington 1985, Li 2010). Pichard and Lagirarde 2003 provides a useful overview of the subject. Levine 2005 and Rong 2004 discuss the monastery as a repository of precious objects. Goodwin 1994 is a rich study of fundraising for Buddhist monasteries. Buswell 1992 is included as an example, in this case contemporary, of how different spaces within the monastery are perceived and used.

                                                                                                                                    • Buswell, Robert E., Jr. The Zen Monastic Experience: Buddhist Practice in Contemporary Korea. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                      Although not specifically about the material culture of the monastery, contains useful descriptions of the arrangement and use of, for instance, the meditation hall and the bath hall in a contemporary Korean monastery.

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                                                                                                                                      • Döhring, Karl. Buddhist Temples of Thailand: An Architectonic Introduction. Bangkok: White Lotus, 2000.

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                                                                                                                                        Originally published in German in 1920 as Buddhistische Tempelanlagen in Siam(Bangkok: Asia Pub. House), this is a survey of Thai Buddhist temples by an architect, packed with photographs, floor plans, and line drawings. It is similar to what Prip-Møller did for China at roughly the same time.

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                                                                                                                                        • Goodwin, Janet R. Alms and Vagabonds: Buddhist Temples and Popular Patronage in Medieval Japan. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1994.

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                                                                                                                                          Study of fundraising for temple construction in medieval Japan that also examines fundraising for related projects, including sutra copying, bridges, baths, and irrigation works.

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                                                                                                                                          • Huntington, Susan L. The Art of Ancient India: Buddhist, Hindu, Jain. New York: Weatherhill, 1985.

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                                                                                                                                            Large, detailed, well-illustrated survey of art in ancient India, which includes extensive discussion of Buddhist architecture for the entire period of Indian Buddhist history.

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                                                                                                                                            • Levine, Gregory. Daitokuji: The Visual Cultures of a Zen Monastery. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                              A wide-ranging series of case studies of pre-Meiji painting, sculpture, and calligraphy stored in, or associated with, Daitokuji, one of the most prominent Buddhist monasteries in Japan. Includes ample discussion of not only the objects themselves, but also how they have been employed, including, for instance, a section on the practice of “airing” the treasures once a year.

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                                                                                                                                              • Li, Yuqun. “Classification, Layout, and Iconography of Buddhist Cave Temples and Monasteries.” In Early Chinese Religion. Part Two: The Period of Division (220–589 AD). Vol. 1. Edited by John Lagerwey and Lü Pengzhi, 575–738. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2010.

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                                                                                                                                                Detailed description of evidence for Buddhist monasteries in the first five hundred years of Buddhism in China.

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                                                                                                                                                • Pichard, Pierre, and François Lagirarde, eds. The Buddhist Monastery: A Cross-Cultural Survey. Paris: École Française d’Extrême-Orient, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                  A large, rich collection of essays introducing the layout, function, and distribution of monasteries throughout the Buddhist world. Useful as a starting point for a broad comparison of the material culture of Buddhist monasteries.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Prip-Møller, Johannes. Chinese Buddhist Monasteries: Their Plan and Its Function as a Setting for Buddhist Monastic Life. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 1982.

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                                                                                                                                                    A richly illustrated survey of Chinese Buddhist monasteries from the 1930s. Originally published in 1937 (Copenhagen: G. E. C. Gads Forlag).

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                                                                                                                                                    • Rong, Xinjiang. “Khotanese Felt and Sogdian Silver: Foreign Gifts to Buddhist Monasteries in Ninth and Tenth-Century Dunhuang.” Asia Major, 3d ser., 17.1 (2004): 15–34.

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                                                                                                                                                      Examines evidence for gifts to medieval Chinese monasteries and the function of monasteries as repositories for precious objects.

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