Receptacle of the Sacred: Illustrated Manuscripts and the Buddhist Book Cult in South Asia

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University of California Press, Apr 12, 2013 - Social Science - 377 pages
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In considering medieval illustrated Buddhist manuscripts as sacred objects of cultic innovation, Receptacle of the Sacred explores how and why the South Asian Buddhist book-cult has survived for almost two millennia to the present. A book “manuscript” should be understood as a form of sacred space: a temple in microcosm, not only imbued with divine presence but also layered with the memories of many generations of users. Jinah Kim argues that illustrating a manuscript with Buddhist imagery not only empowered it as a three-dimensional sacred object, but also made it a suitable tool for the spiritual transformation of medieval Indian practitioners. Through a detailed historical analysis of Sanskrit colophons on patronage, production, and use of illustrated manuscripts, she suggests that while Buddhism’s disappearance in eastern India was a slow and gradual process, the Buddhist book-cult played an important role in sustaining its identity. In addition, by examining the physical traces left by later Nepalese users and the contemporary ritual use of the book in Nepal, Kim shows how human agency was critical in perpetuating and intensifying the potency of a manuscript as a sacred object throughout time.
 

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Contents

text Image and the Book
1
Buddhist Books and their Cultic Use
23
Innovations of the Medieval
43
Representing the Perfection of Wisdom
73
the visual World of Buddhist
113
esoteric Buddhism and
150
6
213
Notes
287
Bibliography
351
Index
367
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About the author (2013)

Jinah Kim is Assistant Professor of History of Art & Architecture at Harvard University.

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