The Making of a Savior Bodhisattva: Dizang in Medieval China (Google eBook)

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University of Hawaii Press, 2007 - History - 305 pages
6 Reviews
In modern Chinese Buddhism, Dizang is especially popular as the sovereign of the underworld. Often represented as a monk wearing a royal crown, Dizang awaits the faithful to help them navigate the complex underworld bureaucracy, avert the sufferings of hells, and arrive at the happy realm of rebirth. The author examines this important Buddhist deity during his formative period--before he settled into his modern role as beneficient ruler of the underworld, when his iconography and hagiography were still rife with possibilities. She begins by problematizing the reigning evolutionary model of Xizang as the gradual sinicization of the Indian Ksitigarbha, a relatively unknown bodhisattva, into Dizang, an underworld deity. Such a model obscures the many-faceted personality and iconography of Dizang. Rejecting it, the author deploys a broad array of materials (scripture, epigraphy, art, ritual texts, and narrative literature) to recomplexify Dizang and restore what this figure meant to Chinese Buddhists from the fifth to tenth centuries. Rather than privilege any one genre of evidence, the author treats both material artifacts and literary works, canonical and noncanonical sources, to uncover forgotten aspects of the medieval Dizang. Through her analysis, the Dizang cult, far from being an isolated phenomenon, is revealed as integrally woven into the entire fabric of Chinese Buddhism, functioning as a kaleidoscopic lens encompassing a multivalent religio-cultural assimilation and so resists the usual bifurcation of doctrine and practice or "elite" and "popular" region. The Making of a Savior Bodhisattva presents a fascinating wealth of material on the personality, iconography, and loreassicated with the medieval Dizang, while it elucidates the complex dynamics underlying the making of a savior cult in Chinese religion.
  

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Careful, solid research! Dazzling in its range of evidence, engagingly and detailed in its analysis ... vividly brings to life the cult of the bodhisattva Dizang (the Chinese Jizō) in its complex formative period in medieval China (P. Tan, Ph.D., independent scholar)

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I am personally drawn to the bodhisattva Jizo in modern Japanese Buddhism, and have long wanted to know about the sources for this deity in Indian and Chinese Buddhism. This book amply satisfies my curiosity. It paints a brilliantly detailed, nuanced overview of the early Chinese development of Jizo. One particular strength is the engaging and compelling analysis of the visual images and popular narratives.  

Contents

I
1
II
27
III
29
IV
36
V
41
VI
50
VII
52
VIII
55
XXVI
158
XXVII
160
XXVIII
165
XXIX
167
XXX
169
XXXI
172
XXXII
177
XXXIII
194

IX
61
X
68
XI
75
XII
79
XIII
81
XIV
84
XV
89
XVI
97
XVII
101
XVIII
107
XIX
115
XX
118
XXI
120
XXII
125
XXIII
135
XXIV
142
XXV
150
XXXIV
197
XXXV
198
XXXVI
203
XXXVII
209
XXXVIII
212
XXXIX
216
XL
219
XLI
225
XLII
229
XLIII
241
XLIV
252
XLV
257
XLVI
258
XLVII
259
XLVIII
295
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About the author (2007)

Zhiru Ng is associate professor of religious studies at Pomona College.

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