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

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

Christine Mollier

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780824831691

Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press

Abstract

This book reveals previously unexplored dimensions of the interaction between Buddhism and Taoism in medieval China. While scholars of Chinese religions have long recognized the mutual influences linking the two traditions, the book brings to light their intense contest for hegemony in the domains of scripture and ritual. It demonstrates the competition and complementarity of the two great Chinese religions in their quest to address personal and collective fears of diverse ills, including sorcery, famine, and untimely death. In this context, Buddhist apocrypha and Taoist scriptures were composed through a process of mutual borrowing, yielding parallel texts, the book argues, that closely mirrored one another. Life-extending techniques, astrological observances, talismans, spells, and the use of effigies and icons to resolve the fundamental preoccupations of medieval society were similarly incorporated in both religions. In many cases, as a result, one and the same body of material can be found in both Buddhist and Taoist guises. Through case-studies, the patterns whereby medieval Buddhists and Taoists each appropriated and transformed for their own use the rites and scriptures oftheir rivals are revealed with precision.