SUTRA OF THE EXTREME GOLDEN RADIANCE

MS 2414
MS Short Title SUTRA OF THE EXTREME GOLDEN RADIANCE
Text SUTRA OF THE EXTREME GOLDEN RADIANCE, CH. 28-31; JIN GUANG MING ZUI SHENG WANG JING. TRANSLATED BY THE MONK YIJING
Description MS in Chinese on paper, Dunhuang, Xinjiang (Sinkiang), China, 9th-early 10th c., 1 scroll of 5 sheets (complete), 27x232 cm, 28 columns, 17 (prose) and 14 or 20 (verse) characters in Chinese book script, 2 seals stamped 8 times.
Provenance 1. Dunhuang caves, Gansu, China, (ca. 10th c. - ca. 1900); 2. Wang Yuanlu, Taoist priest and guardian, Dunhuang (ca. 1900); 3. Berthold Laufer, Chicago (ca. 1900-); 4. Newberry Library, Chicago (-1994); 5. Sam Fogg Rare Books Ltd., London.
Commentary This scroll is unusual among the Dunhuang scrolls in bearing a profusion of impressions of a number of seals. The larger seal reads "a secret talisman ordered by the divine lady to put a spell on the evil spirit". The cipher on the right and the terminology identify this as a Daoist seal. The location of these seals over the joins shows that the scroll formed a unit at the time. The smaller seal, which has been stamped twice, reads "The seal of the great law bureau of the precious altar of the enlightened emperor", suggesting that it is the seal of an institute of government, whose work is likely to have been concerned with the performance of meritorious acts, rituals and prayers for the safety of the state. Being 76x75 mm and 85x83 mm, the seals are larger than those in use by private individuals. The main purpose of this Buddhist Sutra is to protect the country, while the purpose of the Daoist seals is the same. This religious syncretism can be explained by the political uncertainty prevailing in Sinkiang at the time. The specific commissioners of the production of such MSS for this purpose could have been Zhang Yichao, a local magnate who expelled the Tibetans from the area in 847, and ruled for nearly all of the 2nd half of the 9th c., or the Cao family who were established as Chinese Imperial Commissioners in the 10th and 11th centuries.
Place of origin Dunhuang, Sinkiang
Dates 9th - early 10th c.

Location