The formation and development of the Dizang cult in medieval China

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/289099
Title:
The formation and development of the Dizang cult in medieval China
Author:
Ng, Zhiru
Issue Date:
2000
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
This study investigates the medieval Chinese formation of the cult of Dizang (Skt. Kṣitigarbha; Jpn. Jizō), a Buddhist divinity especially popular in connection with East Asian beliefs about the afterlife. It explores why and how Dizang, an obscure figure from the pre-Chinese Buddhist pantheon, became in medieval China an important object of cult worship. A tendency to focus on the popularized characterization of Dizang as " the savior of the damned" has distorted scholarly understanding of this Bodhisattva, obscuring other developments of his personality, including afterlife trends other than the underworld function. To arrive at a more accurate re-construction of the medieval Chinese Dizang cult, this study examines a diverse range of evidences (canonical and non-canonical, textual and visual, as well as Buddhist and non-Buddhist) so as to ferret out threads of Dizang belief not documented in standard sources. Non-canonical sources are particularly highlighted since they frequently capture largely neglected aspects of religious development which must be studied in order to uncover the full complexity of medieval Chinese Buddhism. In particular the formation of the Dizang cult supplies a crucial key to unlocking the larger cross-cultural patterns of religious assimilation operating in medieval Chinese society, which have wider implications for the study of Chinese religion. Previous studies on sinification in Chinese Buddhist history have focused on a particular thinker, a specific text, a single doctrinal concept, or one ritual practice, thus demonstrating the development of only one pattern of assimilation and reducing the complexity of the cross-cultural dynamic in which assimilation really took place. The Dizang cult instead allows one to better contextualize the patterns of cross-cultural assimilation in medieval Chinese religion. What distinguishes the Dizang cult from other examples of sinification is the manner in which the figure of Dizang functions as a religious symbol that integrates diverse religious planes, doctrine, mythology, ritual, and soteriology. The Dizang cult, in short, offers a single but kaleidoscopic lens that encompasses a multivalent religio-cultural assimilation, thus resisting usual bifurcations between doctrine and ritual, as well as between so-called "elite" and "popular" religion.
Type:
text; Dissertation-Reproduction (electronic)
Keywords:
Religion, History of.; History, Asia, Australia and Oceania.; History, Medieval.
Degree Name:
Ph.D.
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Graduate College; East Asian studies
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Advisor:
Gimello, Robert M.

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoen_USen_US
dc.titleThe formation and development of the Dizang cult in medieval Chinaen_US
dc.creatorNg, Zhiruen_US
dc.contributor.authorNg, Zhiruen_US
dc.date.issued2000en_US
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.abstractThis study investigates the medieval Chinese formation of the cult of Dizang (Skt. Kṣitigarbha; Jpn. Jizō), a Buddhist divinity especially popular in connection with East Asian beliefs about the afterlife. It explores why and how Dizang, an obscure figure from the pre-Chinese Buddhist pantheon, became in medieval China an important object of cult worship. A tendency to focus on the popularized characterization of Dizang as " the savior of the damned" has distorted scholarly understanding of this Bodhisattva, obscuring other developments of his personality, including afterlife trends other than the underworld function. To arrive at a more accurate re-construction of the medieval Chinese Dizang cult, this study examines a diverse range of evidences (canonical and non-canonical, textual and visual, as well as Buddhist and non-Buddhist) so as to ferret out threads of Dizang belief not documented in standard sources. Non-canonical sources are particularly highlighted since they frequently capture largely neglected aspects of religious development which must be studied in order to uncover the full complexity of medieval Chinese Buddhism. In particular the formation of the Dizang cult supplies a crucial key to unlocking the larger cross-cultural patterns of religious assimilation operating in medieval Chinese society, which have wider implications for the study of Chinese religion. Previous studies on sinification in Chinese Buddhist history have focused on a particular thinker, a specific text, a single doctrinal concept, or one ritual practice, thus demonstrating the development of only one pattern of assimilation and reducing the complexity of the cross-cultural dynamic in which assimilation really took place. The Dizang cult instead allows one to better contextualize the patterns of cross-cultural assimilation in medieval Chinese religion. What distinguishes the Dizang cult from other examples of sinification is the manner in which the figure of Dizang functions as a religious symbol that integrates diverse religious planes, doctrine, mythology, ritual, and soteriology. The Dizang cult, in short, offers a single but kaleidoscopic lens that encompasses a multivalent religio-cultural assimilation, thus resisting usual bifurcations between doctrine and ritual, as well as between so-called "elite" and "popular" religion.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeDissertation-Reproduction (electronic)en_US
dc.subjectReligion, History of.en_US
dc.subjectHistory, Asia, Australia and Oceania.en_US
dc.subjectHistory, Medieval.en_US
thesis.degree.namePh.D.en_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineEast Asian studiesen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.advisorGimello, Robert M.en_US
dc.identifier.proquest9965876en_US
dc.identifier.bibrecord.b40480409en_US
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