The Impact of Buddhism on Chinese Material Culture

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Princeton University Press, 2003 - History - 343 pages
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From the first century, when Buddhism entered China, the foreign religion shaped Chinese philosophy, beliefs, and ritual. At the same time, Buddhism had a profound effect on the material world of the Chinese. This wide-ranging study shows that Buddhism brought with it a vast array of objects big and small--relics treasured as parts of the body of the Buddha, prayer beads, and monastic clothing--as well as new ideas about what objects could do and how they should be treated. Kieschnick argues that even some everyday objects not ordinarily associated with Buddhism--bridges, tea, and the chair--on closer inspection turn out to have been intimately tied to Buddhist ideas and practices. Long after Buddhism ceased to be a major force in India, it continued to influence the development of material culture in China, as it does to the present day.

At first glance, this seems surprising. Many Buddhist scriptures and thinkers rejected the material world or even denied its existence with great enthusiasm and sophistication. Others, however, from Buddhist philosophers to ordinary devotees, embraced objects as a means of expressing religious sentiments and doctrines. What was a sad sign of compromise and decline for some was seen as strength and versatility by others. Yielding rich insights through its innovative analysis of particular types of objects, this briskly written book is the first to systematically examine the ambivalent relationship, in the Chinese context, between Buddhism and material culture.

 

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Contents

IX
24
X
29
XI
52
XII
80
XIII
83
XIV
86
XV
116
XVI
138
XXIII
220
XXIV
222
XXV
249
XXVI
262
XXVII
275
XXVIII
281
XXIX
284
XXX
289

XVII
153
XVIII
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XIX
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XX
185
XXI
195
XXII
215
XXXI
292
XXXII
295
XXXIII
301
XXXIV
303
XXXV
335
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Page xi - In the eating of coarse rice and the drinking of water, the using of one's elbow for a pillow, joy is to be found. Wealth and rank attained through immoral means have as much to do with me as passing clouds.
Page 6 - EB TYLOR. —Primitive culture. Researches into the development of mythology, philosophy, religion, language, art, and custom. — London, 2 vol.
Page 15 - ... minus its moral factor or "moment," and, as we can now add, minus its "rational" aspect altogether. It will be our endeavour to suggest this unnamed Something to the reader as far as we may, so that he may himself feel it. There is no religion in which it does not live as the real innermost core, and without it no religion would be worthy of the name.
Page 10 - Ages, still plastic and naive, longs to give concrete shape to every conception. Every thought seeks expression in an image, but in this image it solidifies and becomes rigid. By this tendency to embodiment in visible forms all holy concepts are constantly exposed to the danger of hardening into mere externalism.

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