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The Shaolin MonasteryHistory, Religion, and the Chinese Martial Arts$
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Meir Shahar

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780824831103

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824831103.001.0001

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Staff Legends

Staff Legends

(p.82) Chapter 4 Staff Legends
The Shaolin Monastery

Meir Shahar

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter focuses on the Shaolin legend of Vajrapâÿi, the staff wielder. During the Ming period, Shaolin monks had changed the image of the tutelary deity by arming him with a staff. Visual representations of Vajrapâÿi, also known as Nârâyaÿa, show that throughout the twelfth century Shaolin monks had envisioned him holding the Vajra. According to the legend, Vajrapâÿi was incarnated at Shaolin as a lowly scullion. When the monastery was attacked by bandits, he emerged from the kitchen and, wielding a divine staff, repelled the aggressors. This legend has several versions: Cheng Zongyou's Shaolin Staff Method, Fu Mei's Song Mountain Book, and two seventeenth-century gazetteers.

Keywords:   Vajrapâÿi, Shaolin monks, Nârâyaÿa, Vajra, Shaolin Staff Method, Song Mountain Book, Cheng Zongyou, Fu Mei

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