2. Buddhist Monasteries in Tang China
Each ward contained one or several courtyards, depending on their size and function. Inside were public agencies, monasteries, ancestor temples, and countless larger and smaller residences … The similarities in the layout of the courtyards made it easy to exchange functions—for instance, to convert a private residence into a monastery or a monastery into a government office.
There were multi-story buildings, halls towering high, and densely built houses. A total of ten or more compounds with one thousand eight hundred and ninety-seven houses altogether.
2.3. Textual Sources of Information on Regional Monasteries
3. The Kaiyuan Monastery in Sizhou, Jiangsu Province
3.1. Textual Sources
3.2. The First Phase of the Reconstruction: Master Chengguan
3.3. Further Reconstruction and Expansion under Mingyuan
3.3.1. Mingyuan’s Early Career: Expansion of the Kaiyuan Monastery and Its Function as a Flood Barrier
In the first year of the Yuanhe era (806), he was asked by the multitude to become the abbot of this monastery, the next year he was appointed by the government [authorities] as Great Monastic Rectifier in the region, overseeing the twelve divisions. Two hundred steps north from the Kaiyuan monastery, [he] built seven lecture halls [and] six monastic compounds.
There are heavy rains in the low land between the Huai and Si [prefectures]; they cause yearly floods. The Master [Mingyuan] planned with Su Yu, a commandery governor, [and] other [officials] to establish a monastic ward in the wasteland to the west of the Shahu [area] in order to prevent water flow. [They] constructed two hundred [buildings, including] gates, corridors, halls, kitchens, [and] stables; [they] planted ten thousand pine, cedar, willow, [and] cypress trees. Since then, the monks and the laity have been in no danger of flooding.
3.3.2. The Ordination Platform and the New Complex
Soon after that, the monastery burned in a fire. For a few years, the monastery was in a state of disrepair, the statues were destroyed, [and] the monks scattered.
The Master [Mingyuan] and Wang [Zhixing], a military commander in Xuzhou, were destined [to meet]. United in their intentions, [they] joined forces to rebuild the monastic compound. Thus, the master was invited to accept the position of Rectifier of Monks of the three prefectures [and] a petition was presented [to the emperor] with a request to establish an ordination platform without delay. The profits from the donations enabled [rebuilding] on a larger scale, the Palace Attendant [Wang Zhixing] also assisted [by donating] household goods amounting to ten thousand [in cash], [and the reconstruction] was completed.
From tower halls, residential halls, corridors, kitchens, [and] granaries to houses for monks, servants52, workers, [and] livestock. There were a total of two thousand and several hundred buildings. Inside [these buildings], there were ample statues [and] utensils … Star-shaped decorations adorned the buildings; [they seemed to have] emerged from beneath the earth, or descended from heaven. Donations arrived every single day; the sound of bells and chanting never ceased. The four varga53 know [where to find] refuge, [an] uncountable [number of] people [have] converted [to Buddhism].
自殿閣堂亭廊庖廪藏，洎僧徒臧獲傭保馬牛之舍，凡二千若干百十間，其中像設之儀，器用之具，一無闕者 … 輪奐莊嚴，星環棋布，如自地踴，若從天降。供施無虛日，鍾梵有常聲，四眾知歸，萬人改觀。
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These are the official figures of monastic institutions that were dismantled and destroyed during the Huichang 會昌 persecution of Buddhism (840–46). See (Weinstein 1987, p. 134).
There are a handful of exceptions to this rule, including Evelyne Mesnil’s excellent study on the Dashengci monastery 大聖慈寺 in Chengdu (Mesnil 2006).
See Daoxuan’s Zhong Tianzhu Sheweiguo Qihuansi tu jing 中天竺舍衛國祇洹寺圖經 (Diagram and Sūtra on the Jetavana Temple of Vaiśālī in Central India), which includes a sketch of his vision of the ideal monastery, the Jetavana monastery in India, where the Buddha lived and preached (Ho 1995). See (Teiser 2006, pp. 140–41) for descriptions of the individual buildings within the complex.
On Daoxuan’s inclusion of bath and toilet houses on his diagram, see (Heirman and Torck 2012, pp. 37–40).
Huili 慧立 (615–c. 677) and Yancong 彥悰 (fl. 688), Da Tang da Ciensi sanzang fashi zhuan 大唐大慈恩寺三藏法師傳 (Biography of the “Master of the Three Canons,” Dharma Master [Xuanzang] of Great Cien Monastery [under] the Great Tang), T no. 2053.50: 258a16–17 (translation by He 2013b, p. 71).
Local gazetteers are major sources of information on local monasteries from the Song Dynasty onwards. The term “local gazetteers” was often used collectively to refer to various kinds of geographical texts. These works played a crucial role in reinforcing the links between China’s central government and the provinces. Moreover, they provided vital information on strategic locations and military matters because they included comprehensive reports and maps of the whole empire. As a result, they were produced in vast quantities in China’s provinces. On the historical development of local gazetteers, see, among others, (Hargett 1996).
Wenyuan yinghua was compiled by a team of scholars led by Li Fang 李 昉 (925–996) after 980 but not published until 1201–1204. For details of the strategies used in the selection of texts for the Wenyuan yinghua as well as the anthology’s compilation and transmission, see: (Owen 2007, pp. 259–326; Ling 2005).
Tang Wencui was the work of a single compiler, Yao Xuan 姚 铉 (968–1020), who completed it in 1011. His son presented the manuscript to the emperor in 1020, but it was not published until 1039. See (Shields 2017, pp. 306–35) for recent research into this anthology.
The Wenyuan yinghua includes five scrolls of specifically Buddhist ji (juan 817–821). The Tang Wencui boasts a total of nine Buddhist ji on a single scroll (juan 76).
The Wenyuan yinghua contains no fewer than ninteen scrolls of monastic stelae inscriptions (juan 850–868). Five of the Tang Wencui’s total of fifteen scrolls of inscriptions cover Buddhist topics (juan 61–65). It is striking that the sixth-century literary anthology Wen Xuan 文選 (A Selection of Refined Literature), compiled by Xiao Tong 蕭統 (501–531), an important precursor to the Wenyuan yinghua and the Tang Wencui, contains no texts that could be described as ji. Moreover, it contains just five stelae inscriptions, only one of which—the “Toutuosi beiwen” 頭陀寺碑文 (“Stele Inscription for the Toutuo Monastery”), composed by Wang Jin 王巾 (?–505)—was written for a Buddhist monastery. This points to an unprecedented proliferation of both of these literary genres in the Tang era. For more details, see (Sokolova 2021, pp. 40–43).
Jiangnan (literally, “South of the River”) refers to the area south of the Yangtze River that stretches from Suzhou and Hangzhou in the east to Nanchang and Jiujiang in the west. This region provided a safe haven for thousands of intellectuals in the wake of An Lushan’s rebellion.
See Li Yong’s “Da Tang Sizhou Linhuai xian Puguangwangsi bei” 大唐泗州臨淮縣普光王寺碑 (“Stele Inscription for Puguangwang Monastery in Linhuai County in Sizhou of the Great Tang [Dynasty]”), Quan Tang wen 全唐文 263, pp. 2672–73.
Juean 覺岸 (1286–1355), Shishi jigu lüe 釋氏稽古略 (An Outline of Historical Researches into the Śākya Family Lineage), T no. 2037.49: 817c24–25.
This scandal is discussed later in this paper.
Nittō guhōjunrei kōki 4.137.
For a comprehensive study on Li Ao, including his ties with Buddhism, see (Barrett 1992).
Wenyuan yinghua 789, p. 4981; Quan Tang wen 637, p. 6427. The prominent Tang literatus Liang Su 梁肅 (753–793) composed an earlier inscription for the Kaiyuan monastery, as is documented by Cui Gong 崔恭 (?–?) (Tang Wencui 92, pp. 381–82; Wenyuan yinghua 789, p. 49881), but this was probably lost in the fire that destroyed the monastery itself.
(Tang Wencui 85, pp. 291–292; Wenyuan yinghua 688, p. 4269).
(Wenyuan yinghua 688, p. 4269; Quan Tang wen 637, pp. 6423–24).
For a study on Han Yu, see (Hartman 1986).
See Quan Tang shi 全唐詩 342, p. 3831.
Bai Juyi’s inscription for Mingyuan is missing from both the Tang Wencui and the Wenyuan yinghua. A version of the text is included in the Quan Tang wen 678, pp. 6935–6936, but I follow the version contained in the Bai Juyi jijianjiao 白居易集箋校 (ed. Zhu 1988, pp. 3729–30).
Bai Juyi jijianjiao, p. 3729.
Jianzhen was originally from Guangling 廣陵 in Jiangsu. For his biography, see Zanning 贊寜 (919–1001), Song gaoseng zhuan 宋高僧傳 (Biographies of Eminent Monks [Compiled] under the Song Dynasty), T no. 50.2061: 797a24–c11.
Wenyuan yinghua 789, p. 4981. Quan Tang wen 637, p. 6427.
Quang Tang shi 342, p. 3831.
Typically, only abbots had sufficient authority to commission bells. See (Burdorf 2019, p. 325).
For Wang Zhixing’s biography, see Jiu Tangshu 舊唐書 156, pp. 4138–41.
Han Chong 韓崇, Baotiezhai jinshi wen bawei 寶 鐵 齋 金 石 文 跋 尾 (Colophons on Inscriptions on Bronze and Stone from the Baotiezhai [House]), cited in (Barrett 1992, p. 80).
Song gaoseng zhuan, T no. 2061.50: 737a6.
See the biography of Chengguan in Song gaoseng zhuan, T no. 2061.50: 737a5–6.
For a discussion of this network, see (Hamar 2002, pp. 31–42).
Daoxuan’s Sifen lü 四分律, Dharmaguptaka vinaya (Vinaya in Four Parts; T no. 1428.567), is frequently cited in stelae inscriptions and the biographies in Song gaoseng zhuan as a text that monks were required to study prior to ordination and to qualify as vinaya masters.
Xuanzang 玄奘 (600?–664) translated Vasubandhu’s fifth-century text Jushe lun 俱捨論 (Treasury of the Abhidharma; full title Apidamo jushe lun 阿毘達磨倶舍論; T no. 29.1558), one of the most important classical Indian works on abhidharma, into Chinese in 651.
Bai Juyi jijianjiao, p. 3728.
The Great Monastic Rectifier was a monastic supervisor whose principal responsibility was to maintain the moral standards of his fellow monks and nuns. He was recruited from within the saṃgha and appointed by the emperor. See (Forte 2003) for further details.
Bai Juyi jijianjiao, p. 3928.
Shu Sunju 叔孫矩 (?–?) “Da Tang Yangzhou Liuhexian Lingjusi bei” 大唐揚州六合縣靈居寺碑 (“Stele of the Lingju Monastery in the Lingju County in Yangzhou of the Great Tang [Dynasty]”), Quan Tang wen 745, p. 7714.
Bai juyi jianjiao, p. 3728.
Bai juyi jianjiao, p. 3728.
Jiu Tangshu 156, pp. 4139–40.
A commentary by Hu Sanxing 胡三省 (1230–1302) (Zizhi tongjian 資治通鑑 234, p. 7840) reads: “There is a stūpa of the Great Sage (Sengqie) in Sizhou, it is venerated by the people, therefore Wang Zhixing requested permission to establish an ordination platform right next to it” (泗州有大聖塔，人敬事之， 故王智興請於此置戒壇). According to the Shishi jigu lüe, T no. 2037.49: 835c14–15, Wang Zhixing established the platform in the twelfth month of the fourth year of the Changqing 長慶四年 era (i.e., 824) in honor of the emperor’s birthday.
See Cefu yuangui 册府元龜 689, p. 7940.
See Cefu yuangui 689, p. 7940.
Bai Juyi jijianjiao, p. 3928.
Bai Juyi jijianjiao, p. 3928.
The precise meanings of zang 臧 and huo 獲 are uncertain here, although both were used as abusive terms for slaves. Pu (2016) has demonstrated that individual monks and monasteries acquired slaves during the Tang Dynasty, and the Chang’an’s slave-market was the largest in the world at the time. It seems highly likely that Sizhou, which was an important center of trans-Asian trade during the Tang era, would have had a similar market.
The four groups of every monastic community: monks, nuns, male devotees, and female devotees.
Bai Juyi jijianjiao, pp. 3928–29.
Bai Juyi jijianjiao, p. 3929.
Bai Juyi jijianjiao, p. 3929.
On the history of the Kaiyuan monastery during the Song Dynasty, see (Zhang 2012–2013).
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