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A Manuscript of the Suvarnaprabhasa Sutra with Collected Commentary (Jin guang ming jing wen ju bing ji)
Place of Origin: China, Yangsheng Temple, Hangzhou
Date: approx. 1600
Object Name: Buddhist Sutra
Materials: Ink on paper
Dimensions: H. 1 1/2 in x W. 14 in x D. 4 3/4 in, H. 3.8 cm x W. 35.6 cm x D. 12.1 cm (box)
Credit Line: Gift of the Walter H. and Phyllis J. Shorenstein Foundation
Department: Chinese Art
Collection: Books And Manuscripts
Object Number: 1991.211
On Display: No

Description

Label:

The emperors of the early Ming dynasty (1368-1644) were especially interested in the form of Buddhism that was practiced in Tibet.
They sponsored the publication of individual Buddhist texts and commentaries, such as this example, as well as more extensive publications of the complete Chinese Buddhist Canon.

The frontispiece follows the model set out in an early Ming edition of the Chinese Buddhist Canon known as the Beizang (northern) Ming edition. This edition itself was modeled after the late-eleventh-century Dongchan Temple edition that is represented by the manuscript to your right. Typical of the northern Ming-edition texts, which took as much as twenty years to complete in woodblock-printed form, are frontispiece illustrations that depict the Buddha preaching to a group of followers.

The Suvarnaprabhasa Sutra (Golden Light Scripture) is an early text in the development of Esoteric Buddhism. This sutra shares ideas with the Perfection of Wisdom literature (one manuscript of which can be seen in the case to your left), discusses protective incantations, and even incorporates Hindu deities.


More Information

Exhibition History: "Hidden Gold: Mining its Meaning in Asian Art", Asian Art Museum, March 4, 2016-May 8, 2016
Additional Label:

Why would we include this woodcut manuscript in an exhibition about gold? Because its text is full of references to gold, particularly references to the Buddha being golden like the sun. This is an answer of sorts to an especially vexing question: if the Buddha was such a great being, why did he live for only eighty years? The answer is characteristic of Mahayana Buddhist philosophy: the Buddha is eternal and golden like the sun. The text on this manuscript is thought to encapsulate this golden power that otherwise transcends time and space. Indeed, the power of the Buddha is understood to pervade and flow from the text, “filling the world with a golden light and glowing like the sun.” Here the imagery of gold and that of immortality coalesce.

(Label from Exhibition Hidden Gold: Mining Its Meaning in Asian Art)


Label:

The emperors of the early Ming dynasty (1368-1644) were especially interested in the form of Buddhism that was practiced in Tibet.
They sponsored the publication of individual Buddhist texts and commentaries, such as this example, as well as more extensive publications of the complete Chinese Buddhist Canon.

The frontispiece follows the model set out in an early Ming edition of the Chinese Buddhist Canon known as the Beizang (northern) Ming edition. This edition itself was modeled after the late-eleventh-century Dongchan Temple edition that is represented by the manuscript to your right. Typical of the northern Ming-edition texts, which took as much as twenty years to complete in woodblock-printed form, are frontispiece illustrations that depict the Buddha preaching to a group of followers.

The Suvarnaprabhasa Sutra (Golden Light Scripture) is an early text in the development of Esoteric Buddhism. This sutra shares ideas with the Perfection of Wisdom literature (one manuscript of which can be seen in the case to your left), discusses protective incantations, and even incorporates Hindu deities.


Exhibition History: "Hidden Gold: Mining its Meaning in Asian Art", Asian Art Museum, March 4, 2016-May 8, 2016
Expanded Label:

Why would we include this woodcut manuscript in an exhibition about gold? Because its text is full of references to gold, particularly references to the Buddha being golden like the sun. This is an answer of sorts to an especially vexing question: if the Buddha was such a great being, why did he live for only eighty years? The answer is characteristic of Mahayana Buddhist philosophy: the Buddha is eternal and golden like the sun. The text on this manuscript is thought to encapsulate this golden power that otherwise transcends time and space. Indeed, the power of the Buddha is understood to pervade and flow from the text, “filling the world with a golden light and glowing like the sun.” Here the imagery of gold and that of immortality coalesce.

(Label from Exhibition Hidden Gold: Mining Its Meaning in Asian Art)