Many illustrations in the text. Manuscript in accordion format. 36 pages (or panels), written on both sides. 8vo (204 x 98 mm.), orig. boards. [Korea?]: 18th or 19th century.
A unique manuscript collection of Daoist texts and talismans, richly illustrated with diagrams and images. The manuscript is probably Korean, as we find another manuscript with the title Sindo t’aeŭlgyŏng held at Dongshin University library in Naju, South Korea. We find no copy of a work with this title in WorldCat, be it Chinese or Korean.
This unique manuscript contains spells (Ko.: chu, Ch.: zhou 咒), registers (Ko.: nok, Ch.: lu 箓), diagrams (Ko. to, Ch.: tu 圖), and talismans (Ko.: pu, Ch.: fu 符) used in Daoist religious practice. Daoism refers to both a philosophical school in Chinese antiquity and a religious belief system and its practices from the Han dynasty onward. Some of the diagrams that were used in religious Daoism hark back to ancient precedent, but the very earliest such diagrams have been lost. Excavated texts, however, do contain diagrams and spells. “Depending on the situation, [the talismans] may serve as a manifestation of cosmic energies, a geomantic chart, the representation of a deity, an edict from the spirit world or an order issuing from one or the other god, which makes ghosts and demons tremble and keeps them under tight control” (Despeux, “Talismans and Diagrams,” 498). Daoist religion spread also to Korea, as suggested by our manuscript. We believe that the manuscript might have served as a guide or an inventory for a Daoist practitioner.
We find similarities between some of the talismans in this manuscript and those in other books. For example, the “Nine dragon talisman” with four vertical lines crisscrossed by five horizontal lines is found in medical works as well. Other talismans have names that reference celestial objects.
There is an inscription in manuscript on the upper cover: 趋吉避凶 (“to seek good fortune and avoid disaster”).
Fine copy. Preserved in a box.
Despeux, Catherine. “Talismans and Diagrams.” In Daoism Handbook. Edited and translated by Livia Kohn. Handbuch der Orientalistik. Leiden: Brill, 2000.
Item ID: 9415