|[Click on Images to see full size]|
|Author :||MIAO FA LIEN HWA KIN KWAN SHI YIN PHU SA PHU MAN PHIN KIN.|
|Title :||ZONG XIANG GUAN YIN JING: ILLUSTRATED SUTRA OF THE GODDESS OF MERCY, THE LOTUS SUTRA. Dated Xuande 8th Year . SHI WU QUAN: PART 15, COMPLETE.|
|Description of Contents...|
|A superb and marvelous folded scroll, lavishly illustrated |
with large, multi-page illustrations. This is the most
famous and celebrated illustrated version of ZONG XIANG QUAN
YIN JING, [Shi Wu Quan: Complete Chapter 15] ie.:
LOTUS SUTRA HUI XIANG GUAN YIN JING: SUTRA OF THE VISION OF
GUAN YIN. Also known as: MIAO FA LIEN HWA KIN KWAN SHI
YIN PHU SA PHU MAN PHIN KIN: The Saddharma Pundarika Sutra.
The E SO KANNON KYO, or HOKKE-KYO or DAI NICHI KYO in
First known in Chinese as TA-JIH QING [The Great Sun
Scripture] then after 725 A.D. known as the Fa-hua Qing
[Lotus Sutra] or the ZONG XIANG GUAN YIN JING, and has
always been known as the great foundation or Cannon of
Buddhism, and is a religious classic of breath-taking
PRINTING TECHNIQUE, THE PAPER AND MICA COATING:
Printed by hand-carved illustrated woodblocks. This folding
scroll is lavishly printed on mica-coated fine, superior
quality hand-made Japanese mulberry paper. The R A R E
technique of using mica coating is seldom used in Japan and
is very difficult to accomplish. Mica ore is taken and then
finely ground down to fine dust. This dust is then mixed
with a "gesso" type substance or "sizing" which is applied
to the fine side of the paper in a thin layer and allowed to
dry and cure. The paper is then used in the normal way to be
dampened and then placed faced-down on the inked blocks and
rubbed from the back-side to impress the image of characters
and illustrations. The secret is to not dampen to the point
where the mica dust comes off in the printing process. Great
skill is required to successfully accomplish this technique.
Bound in the traditional Chinese sutra format or Jingzhe
RESPECT FOR PRINTING OF BUDDHIST SUTRAS:
Being a venerated and respected Buddhist Sutra, extra cost
was invested into using the best paper and the equally
superb printing techniques with mica. This Sutra was printed
with the purpose to be placed within the Buddhist Temple as
the honoured teachings of Buddha. Some great benefactor of
the temple donated the cost of executing this Deluxe Sutra
in homage to his faith and the Lord Buddha as a gesture of
submission to the Buddhist Cannon and doing what was right.
After this was printed, it was then folded accordion style
into a narrow Sutra format, designed for a priest to hold in
one hand, while the pages were turned, reading from right to
left. Buddhist monks used this famous Sutra to read to the
Sangha, the Buddhist community. The carvers of the blocks,
and the printers alike gained Buddhist merit for their
contribution to the work. It was also a form of piety to
participate in the production process of this Sutra.
MATERIALS AND NUMBER OF COPIES PRINTED:
The technique employed to print this great work was
hand-carved cherry woodblocks, and is beautifully
illustrated, an uncommon feature. The large majority of
Buddhist Sutras were strictly text characters no
illustrations. This fine example is printed with an
exceptionally, strong and very clear registry and
impression. Obviously this copy was one of the very first
"pulls" off the wood blocks as evidenced by the brilliant
registry and clarity found in the stunningly clear
impression. Wood blocks generally had a maximum average
"life-span" of approximately 200 copies before the blocks
warped and checked to the point where they were unclear and
mostly unusable. Last printings off bad condition blocks are
clearly evident by the deterioration of the black or "key"
lines or gaps in illustrations between images, and a general
over all poor quality of impressions. Based on the
exceptionally strong impression of this copy, is firm
evidence of an early impression of one copy of about
two-hundred total copies produced from these blocks.
Illustrated Sutras from this early period are RARE and were
seldom done. The reason being that most Sutras were read by
priests to other priests, but in this instance, this Sutra
was illustrated, with the object being that it was no only
to be read to other priests, but to be shown to the Sangha
or Buddhist community members to give them a clear visual
impression of the august gathering of those who came to
listen to the Lord Buddha offer his teaching. The correct
picture was worth a thousand words.
The grand and first illustration occupies some ten full
pages in all to make one single and complete impressive view
of the a Great Sangha, consisting of a large gathering of
Monks, Priests, Arhats, Boddhisatvas and other disciples
of the Buddha. The illustrations are separated by the Sutra,
which is written in bold face large Chinese characters,
easily read by near-sighted old priests. With a plethora of
other fine illustrations of the Sangha, a host of Buddhist
icons, Boddhisatvas and a variety of deities. These nicely
break up the rather sparse text with a substantial and large
number of superb illustrations.
The second and most important illustration is that of
Avalokitesvara, or Guan-Yin in Chinese; Kannon in Japanese:
THE GODDESS OF MERCY. She is shown standing atop a temple,
above the seated Buddha, with her multi-faced form, turned
in every direction in order to see all things and to save
all beings, with her profusion of arms each with hand
holding holy Buddhist symbolic objects. Her crown is of a
"Hundred Faces" and she stands on a throne of fire. This is
the Bodhisattva that grants mercy to those in need.
The last page shows a good colophon date of Xuande 8 
indicating this was printed off the original Chinese
Ours is the complete Fifteenth Chapter, an extract reads:
"[part] 15: TATHAGAT' AYUS-PRAMANA: DURATION OF THE LIFE OF
THE TATHAGATA and begins with:
"I show the place of extinction, I reveal to all beings a
device to educate them, albeit I do not become extinct at
the time and in this very place continue preaching the law."
Sakyamuni is seen in various poses and displaying Mudras of
enlightenment while seated upon his Lotus-bud throne. This
is the greatest and Holiest of all Mahayana texts, and is
always invoked at Buddhist temples throughout Asia. Although
the spoken word of this Sutra varies with each language, the
content and concept remains the same: "recitation earns
virtue." This marvelous example is one of the longest
illustrated Sutras, some 47 ft. or 15.66 meters long] with
wonderful holy illustrations of the most important Sutra in
all of Buddhism.
LeRoy Davidson in his monumental study of the LOTUS SUTRA
IN CHINESE ART, Yale Univ. 1954, points out an item of
medical interest in the below Miao Fa on page 91, paragraph
4 where he cites: "The panel is that of the paradise of
Bhaisajyaguru, the Buddha of MEDICINE [plate 38.] This
paradise is similar to that of Amitayus. As in the Pure
Land of Sukhavati, there are no vignettes to identify the
scene. Only the MEDICINE BOWL which is held by the Buddha
provides the clue, for this is the symbol of Bahaisjyaguru.
See footnote 38." Found in cave 8, Tun Huang.
The compassionate medical Buddha often dispensed herbal
medicine from his bowl to sickly members of the Sangha, the
THE MOST FAMOUS OF ALL BUDDHIST SUTRAS:
"The LOTUS SUTRA has inspired countless paintings and
sculptures which illustrated its teachings...representing a
history of Buddhism to the year 1000." Extracted from
Davidson dust jacket notes.
Because this is the most important and famous of all
Buddhist Sutras, more information can be easily found in
books about Buddhism or Buddhist art. Works of this great
value were occasionally bestowed upon the most loyal and
generous benefactors by temple priests and monks. They are
seldom found for sale on the open market. This fine example
has been treasured and properly cared for over long life. It
does NOT have the usual old worming, mends and damage
commonly found in many books of this period.
There is a very minor bit of old worming to the indigo
blue paper Chitsu cover, a tiny bit of the old worming has
penetrated the first [of many] layers of the front and back
covers but by Buddha's protection, the full text was spared
and is still flawless without a blemish !
The Chuan/Chitsu folding indigo colored case has one of two
ivory clips, and a few minor repairs to the inside.
OTHER IMPORTANT DETAILS:
The cover title reads: ZONG XIANG GUAN YIN JING SHI WU QIAN
in Chinese: ILLUSTRATED SUTRA OF THE GODDESS OF MERCY, THE
LOTUS SUTRA, 15th Chapter complete. Known in Japanese as the
JUGO ZEN: E SO KANNON KYO. This Sutra was donated by a
pilgrim to the famous thirty-three Temples. A most precious
and early example of fine woodblock printing by hand, on
elaborate crushed mica-coated paper. Truly a magnificent
example of the hand-made art of the ancient book. The
complete chapter 15, but some reference sources cite this
in Chinese as chapter 24; variant editions total the
chapters in different ways. Regardless this one is clearly
marked [chapter] fifteen.
A beautifully illustrated Lotus Sutra !
For background and more details see:
A. Matsunaga: THE BUDDHIST PHILOSOPHY OF ASSIMILATION
. p.111 et al.
J. Goedertier: A DICTIONARY OF JAPANESE HISTORY p.84
K. Reichelt: TRUTH AND TRADITION IN CHINESE BUDDHISM:A
. Study of Chinese Mahayana Buddhism p.52-53 et al.
A. Reischauer: STUDIES IN JAPANESE BUDDHISM
E. Reischauer: ENNIN'S DIARY: The Record of a Pilgrimage
. to China in Search of the Law.
E. Conze: BUDDHISM. E. Conze: THIRTY YEARS OF BUDDHIST
. STUDIES p.105-122 et al.
W. Neihauser Jr. THE INDIANA COMPANION TO TRADITIONAL
. CHINESE LITERATURE: "...An important piece of Buddhist
. literature. "Prof.
Philip Hu comp.: VISIBLE TRACES: Rare Books and Special
. Collections from the National Library of China.
S. Edgren et al: CHINESE RARE BOOKS IN AMERICAN COLLECTIONS
. In the above work on p. 92-93 is a similar item of
. similar period that shows similar illustrations. Or an
. earlier example on p. 80-81.
Bunyio Nanjio: A Catalogue of the Chinese Translation of
. the Buddhist Tripitaka: The Sacred Canon of the
. Buddhists in China and Japan, column 44, #137 is a very
. similar item. With title: MIAO FA LIEN HWA KIN KWAN SHI
YIN PHU SA PHU MAN PHIN KIN.
NARA NATIONAL MUSEUM. ARTS OF THE LOTUS SUTRA: Special
. Exhibition 4.29-6.3 1979. This extremely valuable
. reference covers a large number of wood-cut printed
. sutras as well as manuscript sutras from the 8th
. centuries, also identifies National Treasures from the
. 7th to the 14th centuries.
See A.F. Price: THE JEWEL OF TRANSCENDENTAL WISDOM [THE
DIAMOND SUTRA], London 1947, Buddhist Society for a
translation of this classic. Chinese title: Guanshiyin pusa
pumen ping, or jing, or the Avalokitesvara Sutra.
J.L. Davidson: THE LOTUS SUTRA IN CHINESE ART for a general
and very good background. The back of this Sutra has long
inscriptions by Senn-yo Ji Kann, a priest who made a
pilgrimage to the thirty-three temples in Western Japan in
1767. He carried this Sutra and held it up to the Kan-non
[Goddess of Mercy] and made a prayer. His pilgrimage was
sponsored by Yamamoto-ya Kauemon Yoichi & Ohisa of Osaka.
The balance of the inscription is the Darani-Kyo or the
Diamond Sutra. The work has 4 columns of characters per
W. Soothill: THE LOTUS GOSPEL: SADDHARMA PUNDARIKA SUTRA:
MIAO FO LIEN HUA CHING, Oxford 1930 for a substantial
translation of this work. In the Soothill translation, he
identifies some 27 individual chapters.
P.Pal & Julia Meech-Pekarik: BUDDHIST BOOK ILLUMINATIONS,
pages 248-261; figures 94-100.
A FINE AND EARLY MING EXAMPLE--EXCEPTIONALLY RARE COPY !
. *** Color scans of this and most other items are posted to our website.
Book description text protected by Copyright.