Dunhuang Manuscript 羽 619 in the Kyōushoku (杏雨書屋) and Its Textual Counterparts in the Āgamas

A three-folio manuscript of Dunhuang provenance (ms. 羽619) located in the Kyōushoku collection (杏雨書屋) was described by the editor of the Dunhuang Miji (敦煌秘笈) as a different version of the Zengyi ahan jing (增一阿含經, T 125), and possibly belonging to a so far unattested or lost Ekottarika-āgama sūtra. The research project presented in this thesis aimed at verifying this hypothesis.

In the course of my preliminary survey, I was able to locate another manuscript (ms. 近墨堂1002.hs), which, in facsimile, appeared very similar to ms. 羽619. This research finds that ms. 羽619 and ms. 近墨堂1002.hs can be collated and are in fact a single manuscript. After the collation, it was possible to closely inspect the content of ms. 羽619+近墨堂1002.hs. This contains stories of six eminent disciples of the Buddha, among whom five are bhikṣuṇīs.

At first glance, the text may appear to belong to the chapter on bhikṣuṇīs in the Zengyi ahan jing (增一阿含經). On closer inspection and comparative textual study, however, I came to the provisional conclusion that the text may be closer in genre to a commentary such as the Fenbie gongde lun 分別功德論 (T 1507), an unfinished Chinese commentary on the Ekottarika-āgama. The text in question, though, cannot be identified as stemming from the Fenbie gongde lun (分別功德論) itself nor from a different version of the same work.

As regards the dating, Fang Guang-chang (方廣錩) (2013) assigns ms. 近墨堂1002.hs to the Eastern Jin period (東晉) (AD 317–420). Since the translation of the Zengyi ahan jing (增一阿含經) was completed in AD 385, a new commentary (i.e., 羽619+近墨堂1002) based on this very translation could only appear later. Provided that manuscript 羽619+近墨堂1002 appears to belong was a commentary on the received translation of the Zengyi ahan jing (增一阿含經), on the basis of close parallels in phraseology between 羽619+近墨堂1002.hs and the extant Zengyi ahan jing (增一阿含經), I would suggest a dating to the period AD 385 onwards.


Writing to Meet Social Obligations and as Performance: A Case Study of the Creative Circumstances of Wang Duo’s Calligraphy (Xue Long Chun)

Among Wang Duo’s extant calligraphies, almost half were made to fulfill social obligations. Wang’s attitude towards writing that is meant to satisfy social obligations was complex. On the one hand, he was willing to write calligraphy for financial gain and to expand and maintain his social network; on the other, he was sometimes annoyed at the pressure to deliver work. To preserve the quality of his output, he would postpone deliveries or refuse commissions.

On occasion, Wang Duo brushed calligraphy at social gatherings, where the presence of an audience created an atmosphere of keen anticipation and heightened his urge to perform. Wang possessed a keen sense of drama that made his energetic performances on these occasions memorable. Especially at gatherings like these, he made certain to include strong contrasts among the elements of his work to make a vivid visual impression on his expectant audience.

The phrase “artworks of social obligation” is often understood to refer to careless work executed in haste. These works are contrasted to those done for self-amusement or as personal gifts, circumstances customarily taken to be optimum for the production of good quality work. The body of Wang Duo’s output, however, includes many brilliant pieces that were made to meet social obligations. This suggests that our presumption of a direct relationship between artworks of social obligation and the quality of such works should be reconsidered.