Four fine full-page woodcut illus. Woodblock-printed. 54 folding leaves (final two leaves printed in Sanskrit & Hangul]. Large 8vo (317 x 198 mm.), orig. brown wrappers, new stitching. [Seoul: 1853].
A rare Korean edition of “commentaries on the Sukhavativyuha, one of the basic books of the Pure Land Sect. The text is the Chinese translation by Kumarajiva (344-413), and the commentaries were made in 1647 by Chih-hsu (1599-1655), a patriarch of the T’ien-t’ai Sect). Our copy is from the 1853 Seoul edition, which was a reprint of the 1753 Wu Shang-hsien edition. The reprint includes two leaves of [four] illustrations and a dedicatory leaf to the sponsors, Premier [Prime Minister] Kim Chwa-gun (1797-1869) and his wife, who ordered a thousand copies, ‘praying to get an unusual son.’ The names of the other sponsors, as in most Korean editions of Buddhist works, are found on the inside margins. At the end of this edition are added two leaves of chants in Sanskrit.”–Fang, The Asami Library. A Descriptive Catalogue, 28.19 (pp. 234-35).
Pure Land Buddhism is a main branch of Mahayana Buddhism and one of the most widely practiced traditions of Buddhism in East Asia, practiced in China, Japan, Korea, Tibet, and Vietnam. Chih-hsu was “an eminent monk and revitalizer of Pure Land Buddhism in Ming-dynasty China…he is remembered as one of the great revivers of Buddhism in the mid to late Ming period.”–Keown, A Dictionary of Buddhism, p. 56.
Kumarajiva, Buddhist monk, scholar, missionary, and translator, who came from the Silk Road kingdom of Kucha, was famous for his encyclopedic knowledge of Indian and Vendantic learning. He was the greatest translator of Buddhist scripture from Sanskrit into Chinese, and it was largely owing to his efforts and influence that Buddhist religious and philosophical ideas were disseminated in China. Following many years of study in Kucha and Kashmir, he arrived in Chang’an (now Xi’an), in 401 with a great reputation. He became known as “teacher of the nation.” There, he headed a famous school of translators, and together they translated many important Buddhist texts into Chinese.
Nice copy of a very rare book. Unimportant worming.
Item ID: 7022