Sacred Economies: Buddhist Monasticism and Territoriality in Medieval China

Kobo ebook | February 26, 2010

byMichael J. Walsh

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Buddhist monasteries in medieval China employed a variety of practices to ensure their ascendancy and survival. Most successful was the exchange of material goods for salvation, as in the donation of land, which allowed monks to spread their teachings throughout China. By investigating a variety of socioeconomic spaces produced and perpetuated by Chinese monasteries, Michael J. Walsh reveals the "sacred economies" that shaped early Buddhism and its relationship with consumption and salvation.

Centering his study on Tiantong, a Buddhist monastery that has thrived for close to seventeen centuries in southeast China, Walsh follows three main topics: the spaces monks produced, within and around which a community could pursue a meaningful existence; the social and economic avenues through which monasteries provided diverse sacred resources and secured the primacy of Buddhist teachings within an agrarian culture; and the nature of "transactive" participation within monastic spaces, which later became a fundamental component of a broader Chinese religiosity.

Unpacking these sacred economies and repositioning them within the history of religion in China, Walsh encourages a different approach to the study of Chinese religion, emphasizing the critical link between religious exchange and the production of material culture.

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Buddhist monasteries in medieval China employed a variety of practices to ensure their ascendancy and survival. Most successful was the exchange of material goods for salvation, as in the donation of land, which allowed monks to spread their teachings throughout China. By investigating a variety of socioeconomic spaces produced and per...

Michael J. Walsh is associate professor of religion and Asian studies at Vassar College, where he teaches courses on the history of Chinese religion and theory and method in the study of religion.

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Format:Kobo ebookPublished:February 26, 2010Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231519931

ISBN - 13:9780231519939

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Table of Contents

Illustrations
Preface
Dynastic Chronology
1. Monastic Identity, Buddhist Religiosity, and Land
2. A Square at the Center of the World
3. Corporate Bodies
4. A Culture of Estates
5. Grains of Sand
6. Cultivating Salvation
7. Salvation and Survival
Appendix A. Yin County Buddhist Monastic Land, c. 1226 C.E.
Appendix B. Population Figures for Yin County, Ming Prefecture
Appendix C. Land Totals in Ming Prefecture
Appendix D. Major Structures in Tiantong Monastery's Compound
Notes
Glossary
Bibliography
Index

Editorial Reviews

Walsh has made a valuable contribution to the field of Chinese Buddhism.