Huntington to Exhibit Its Oldest Printed Guide

The Huntington Library, Artwork Museum, and Botanical Gardens will exhibit for the primary time the oldest printed guide in its assortment, The Scripture of the Nice Flower Decoration of the Buddha.

Printed in 1085: The Chinese language Buddhist Canon from the Tune Dynasty, an exhibition on view within the Library’s West Corridor from April 29 via December 4, 2023, will dive into the circumstances of the guide’s creation and its spiritual significance whereas broadening guests’ understanding of Chinese language textual custom. Further supplies associated to the textual content may even be on show to offer historic context.

“A specifically designed show case will permit Huntington guests to have a novel expertise when viewing this sacred textual content,” mentioned Li Wei Yang, curator of the Pacific Rim collections at The Huntington. “Although the guide was meant to be learn by flipping from one web page to the following, right here it is going to be expanded in a customized case designed for optimum visibility, providing a uncommon alternative to view this miraculously preserved relic and observe its distinctive bibliographic traits and exquisiteness.”

Greater than 900 years previous, the guide is a part of the 5,850-volume Nice Canon of the Everlasting Longevity of the Chongning Reign Interval. Produced in the course of the Tune dynasty (960–1279) between 1080 and 1112, the accordion-style guide unfolds to a size of 31 toes, 21 toes of which might be on show. It is likely one of the longest sutras, or assortment of aphorisms, within the Buddhist canon and is a compendium of doctrines and ritual practices extensively adopted all through East Asia.

The textual content presents a imaginative and prescient of all the universe as consisting of components that every one interpenetrate (like mirrors reflecting in mirrors) inside the physique of the Cosmic Buddha. “Briefly, it displays the notion that ‘I’m you, you’re me; all of us are Buddha,’” Yang mentioned.

It isn’t identified whether or not the Buddha himself truly spoke the phrases discovered within the Scripture of the Nice Flower Decoration. Somewhat, it’s probably that his followers, over centuries of adaptation and interpretation, included the essence of his teachings into this and plenty of different Buddhist works which have survived.

Printed in 1085 will present the connection between faith and China’s printmaking, which had been practiced centuries earlier than the primary use of movable metallic kind in Europe. Emperor Taizu, who dominated from 960 to 976 CE, wished to disseminate Buddhist teachings, which led to the acceleration of woodblock printing in China.

In the course of the creation of the Scripture of the Nice Flower Decoration, Chongzhen – an abbot on the Dongchan Temple in Fuzhou, China – led a big workforce of monks and artisans to chop and ink greater than 165,000 woodblocks, printing 5,850 volumes of the Nice Canon of the Everlasting Longevity of the Chongning Reign Interval, or the Chongning Canon. It was probably the most time- and resource-intensive printing initiatives ever undertaken in China’s imperial historical past.

At the moment, there aren’t any remnants of the Dongchan Temple or the unique woodblocks, and incomplete collections of the Chongning Canon volumes are scattered in libraries and personal collections all through Asia, Europe, and North America, all of which makes The Huntington’s quantity of the Chongning Canon an particularly beneficial historic artifact.

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