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Signs from the Unseen Realm

Signs from the Unseen Realm: Buddhist Miracle Tales from Early Medieval China

A translation and study by ROBERT FORD CAMPANY
Copyright Date: 2012
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  • Book Info
    Signs from the Unseen Realm
    Book Description:

    In early medieval China hundreds of Buddhist miracle texts were circulated, inaugurating a trend that would continue for centuries. Each tale recounted extraordinary events involving Chinese persons and places-events seen as verifying claims made in Buddhist scriptures, demonstrating the reality of karmic retribution, or confirming the efficacy of Buddhist devotional practices. Robert Ford Campany, one of North America's preeminent scholars of Chinese religion, presents in this volume the first complete, annotated translation, with in-depth commentary, of the largest extant collection of miracle tales from the early medieval period, Wang Yan'sRecords of Signs from the Unseen Realm,compiled around 490 C.E.In addition to the translation, Campany provides a substantial study of the text and its author in their historical and religious settings. He shows how these lively tales helped integrate Buddhism into Chinese society at the same time that they served as platforms for religious contestation and persuasion. Campany offers a nuanced, clear methodological discussion of how such narratives, being products of social memory, may be read as valuable evidence for the history of religion and culture.Readers interested in Buddhism; historians of Chinese religions, culture, society, and literature; scholars of comparative religion: All will findSigns from the Unseen Realma stimulating and rich contribution to scholarship.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6571-9
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. Conventions
    (pp. xvii-xxii)
  6. PART I Signs from the Unseen Realm and Buddhist Miracle Tales in Early Medieval China
    (pp. 1-62)

    As far as we know, a minuscule number of monks and laymen of foreign extraction, often with the help of Chinese assistants, began translating Buddhist scriptures from Indic languages into literary Chinese in the middle of the second century of the common era.¹ Buddhist-inspired visual imagery was deployed in various places throughout China around this same time.² But in this earliest period, the audience for the translated texts was vanishingly small, and the Buddhalike images that have been unearthed seem to be examples of the cross-culturally attested use of imported bits of exotic cultures as apotropaic devices—things deemed powerful...

  7. PART II Translation: Signs from the Unseen Realm
    (pp. 63-260)

    As a child I lived in Jiaozhi.² There was a Dharma master Xian 賢法師 there, a wise and virtuous monk from whom I received the five precepts.³ I was given a metal image of Sound Observer⁴ to make offerings to. Its form was different from those of today; on the other hand, it was not very old. It was of the type that was produced during the Yuanjia period.⁵ Its casting was done so skillfully that it seemed to be the actual [bodhisattva].⁶ I took it with me to the capital. At the time I was still a boy, and...

  8. APPENDIX 1. Fragments and Questionable Items
    (pp. 261-262)
  9. APPENDIX 2. List of Major Motifs
    (pp. 263-264)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 265-292)
  11. Index
    (pp. 293-300)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 301-307)