The introduction lays out the scope of the book, the types of sources used, and the methodology employed. It discusses the meaning of the term “patriarch” and related categories of Buddhist sainthood found in Chinese sources. It explains the implications of the book’s title, which indicates how Chinese Buddhists simultaneously transmitted pre-existing images of the Indian patriarchs and invented them anew. The book examines hagiographic, exegetical, scriptural, ritual, and genealogical writings, as well as art historical materials, emphasizing the interdependent nature of these different genres. Hagiography was not produced or consumed in isolation from these other literary and visual arts; the Indian patriarchs’ career trajectories, doctrinal dispositions, and ritual prescriptions all developed in concert. The introduction also outlines the approach taken on the issue of religious acculturation, arguing for closer attention to local Chinese representations of ancient Indian Buddhism and treating Indianness as a repertoire element that was constantly (re)defined.
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