"Ximing Monastery: History and Imagination in Medieval Chinese Buddhism"

Wang Xiang
Ximing Monastery: History and Imagination in Medieval Chinese Buddhism

Presented in the cultural context of medieval Chang'an and the broader network of Buddhist Asia, this book provides an interdisciplinary study of Ximing Monastery (Ximingsi) in Tang China (618–907). As a premier center of Buddhist learning, Ximingsi not only served as a national shrine active in state-protection movement, but also attracted a steady stream of Chinese pundits, Indian missionaries, Korean scholars, and Japanese pilgrims. Despite its fame, Ximingsi has yet to receive a full scholarly treatment. Drawing from a large body of widely-scattered literature as well as numerous marginal notes, the first part of the book offers a consideration of the monastery's dark prehistory, a sketch of its literary imaginaire, and a presentation of its complex religio-political history, with special attention to the interaction between politics and Buddhism. The present study also attempts to reconstruct the religious space of Ximingsi in relation to the Indian Jetavana Vihara and the Daianji Temple in Japan. Lastly, the final chapters explore the monastery's celebrated library, highlighting its rich bibliographical tradition and its role in cultural exchange between China and Japan.