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Buddhism and Taoism Face to FaceScripture, Ritual, and Iconographic Exchange in Medieval China$
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Christine Mollier

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780824831691

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824831691.001.0001

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Under Stellar Protection

Under Stellar Protection

Chapter:
(p.134) Chapter 4 Under Stellar Protection
Source:
Buddhism and Taoism Face to Face
Author(s):

Christine Mollier

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824831691.003.0004

The principal objective of the talismanic tradition of the constellation of the Great Dipper, or Beidou, is to assure the prolongation and preservation of the lives of the faithful. More complex in its formation than the Yisuan jing, the tradition of the Beidou is deeply embedded within the millennial fabric of Chinese culture and religion, in which the diverse threads of astrology and soteriology are intimately intertwined. The text concerning the Beidou that has caused by far the most ink to flow among Occidental scholars is the Sūtra on Prolonging Life through Worship of the Seven Stars of the Northern Dipper, Preached by the Buddha. This chapter attempts to trace out the early development of the Chinese Great Dipper tradition by examining the history of the Sūtra of the Great Dipper, the medieval Taoist sources that inspired this apocryphon, and materials from Dunhuang testifying to the Beidou cult.

Keywords:   talismans, Beidou, constellation Buddhism, Taoism, medieval China, Sutra of the Great Dipper, Chinese culture

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