By Professor Zhiru
In glossy chinese language Buddhism, Dizang is principally well known because the sovereign of the underworld. usually represented as a monk donning a royal crown, Dizang is helping the deceased devoted navigate the advanced underworld paperwork, ward off the punitive terrors of hell, and arrive on the satisfied realm of rebirth. the writer is worried with the formative interval of this significant Buddhist deity, earlier than his underworldly element eclipses his connections to different non secular expressions and at a time while the paintings, mythology, practices, and texts of his cult have been nonetheless replete with probabilities. She starts through problematizing the reigning version of Dizang, one who proposes an evolution of slow sinicization and lengthening vulgarization of a comparatively unknown Indian bodhisattva, Ksitigarbha, right into a chinese language deity of the underworld. the sort of version, the writer argues, obscures the many-faceted character and iconography of Dizang. Rejecting it, she deploys a extensive array of fabrics (art, epigraphy, ritual texts, scripture, and narrative literature) to recomplexify Dizang and fix (as a lot as attainable from the fragmented old resources) what this determine intended to chinese language Buddhists from the 6th to 10th centuries.
Rather than privilege anyone style of proof, the writer treats either fabric artifacts and literary works, canonical and noncanonical assets. Adopting an archaeological procedure, she excavates motifs from and unearths resonances throughout disparate genres to color a colourful, precise photo of the medieval Dizang cult. via her research, the cult, faraway from being an remoted phenomenon, is printed as integrally woven into the complete cloth of chinese language Buddhism, functioning as a kaleidoscopic lens encompassing a multivalent religio-cultural assimilation that resists the standard bifurcation of doctrine and perform or "elite" and "popular" religion.
The Making of a Savior Bodhisattva provides a desirable wealth of fabric at the character, iconography, and lore linked to the medieval Dizang. It elucidates the complicated cultural, spiritual, and social forces shaping the florescence of this savior cult in Tang China whereas at the same time addressing a number of broader theoretical concerns that experience preoccupied the sector. Zhiru not just questions using sinicization as a lens by which to view chinese language Buddhist historical past, she additionally brings either canonical and noncanonical literature into discussion with a physique of archaeological is still that has been neglected within the learn of East Asian Buddhism.