• The Discipline of Writing: Scribes and Purity in Eighth-Century Japan

    Author(s):
    Bryan Lowe (see profile)
    Date:
    2012
    Group(s):
    History
    Subject(s):
    Asian history, Japanese literature, Medieval history, Religious studies
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    buddhist studies
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/M6032X
    Abstract:
    This article focuses on ritualized scribal practices in eighth-century Japan. It uses colophons, scriptorium documents, and narrative tales to explore how sutra copyists upheld vegetarian diets, performed ablutions, wore ritual garments, and avoided contact with pollutants stemming from death and illness. Such practices, often described in terms of purity, spread widely on the Asian continent in the seventh century and reached Japan by the eighth century. This article argues that upholding purity was deeply connected to notions of ritual efficacy but also enabled pious lay scribes to train for monastic careers. The evidence is used to reassess historiographical debates on Nara Buddhism with particular attention to the well-known “theory of state Buddhism” (kokka Bukkyō ron).
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    3 years ago
    License:
    All Rights Reserved
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