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Abstract

This dissertation reads a seventh-century Chinese Buddhist anthology to examine how medieval Chinese Buddhists practiced reducing and reorganizing their voluminous scriptural tradition into more useful formats. The anthology, A Grove of Pearls from the Garden of Dharma (Fayuan zhulin 法苑珠林), was compiled by a scholar-monk named Daoshi 道世 (?–683) from hundreds of Buddhist scriptures and other religious writings, listing thousands of quotations under a system of one-hundred category-chapters. This dissertation shows how A Grove of Pearls was designed by and for scriptural economy: it facilitated and was facilitated by traditions of categorizing, excerpting, and collecting units of scripture. Anthologies like A Grove of Pearls selectively copied the forms and contents of earlier Buddhist anthologies, catalogs, and other compilations; and, in turn, later Buddhists would selectively copy from it in order to spread the Buddhist dharma. I read anthologies not merely to describe their contents but to show what their compilers and copyists thought they were doing when they made and used them.,A Grove of Pearls from the Garden of Dharma has often been read as an example of a Buddhist leishu 類書, or “Chinese encyclopedia.” But the work’s precursors from the sixth century do not all fit neatly into this genre because they do not all use lei 類 or categories consistently, nor do they all have encyclopedic breadth like A Grove of Pearls. The medieval tradition of Chinese Buddhist anthology was ultimately concerned about “collecting extracts” (chaoji 抄集), and “categories” allowed for storing and recalling the extracts. I describe how lei function in A Grove of Pearls and other anthologies, situating A Grove of Pearls in a longer history of Chinese Buddhist anthology and compilation. I translate and analyze the prefaces of A Grove of Pearls and other anthologies to illustrate how they articulate scriptural economy as a problem to be solved., ,Practices of scriptural “extraction” (chao 抄) and “collection” (ji 集) for the spread of the Dharma were not only featured as necessary for Buddhist practice within the scriptures, but Chinese Buddhists imagined themselves as following these traditions when they cataloged scriptures, wrote commentary on them, and built anthologies from them. I catalog excerpts from A Grove of Pearls that thematize “extracting” and “collecting” dharma respectively to suggest how anthologies thought they should be used. Finally, I analyze medieval manuscripts from the Dunhuang cache that extract excerpts from A Grove of Pearls to show how the practice of reducing anthology for quotidian use can be read as continuous with the practice of building anthologies in the first place; and I look at how Daoshi’s colleague Daoxuan 道宣 (596–667) reduced large catalogs for building scriptural canons that could be used in practice, for scholarly consultation and ritual recitation.,My research shows how medieval Chinese Buddhist anthologies justified themselves by employing rhetoric from long-standing Buddhist narratives on the size and difficulty of the Dharma as well as the brilliance and discretion of its exponents. By illustrating how anthologies articulate a need for scriptural economy and then put it into practice by placing quotes from old scriptures under new categories, this dissertation contributes to our understanding of how anthologies participated in a broader culture of textual curation, making the Dharma more available and ready-to-hand in medieval China.

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