BOUNDLESS LIFE MAHAYANA SUTRA

MS 2100
MS Short Title BOUNDLESS LIFE MAHAYANA SUTRA
Text BOUNDLESS LIFE MAHAYANA SUTRA, TRANSLATION FROM SANSKRIT OF THE ARYA-APARIMITAYURJÑANA-NAMA-MAHAYANA-SUTRA
Description MS in Tibetan on paper, Tibet, early 8th c., 1 scroll (complete), 29x158 cm, 7 columns, (28x156 cm), 19 lines in Tibetan dbu can book script. Written and signed by the scribe Legs M’a.
Context The Dunhuang hoard consisted of about 13,500 MSS; with printing and fragments included, 19,200 items. It is the largest and most important group of oriental MSS ever found. The present distribution is as follows: London, British Library, Stein collection 8080; Bejing, National Library 8000; Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, Pelliot Collection ca. 3000; Shanghai Library 100; Shanghai Museum 4; Japan, museums and libraries 5; and The Schøyen Collection 4.
Provenance 1. Dunhuang cave no. 151, Gansu, China, (ca. 9th c. - ca. 1900); 2. Wang Yuanlu, Daoist priest and guardian, Dunhuang (ca. 1900); 3. Berthold Laufer, Tibetologist, U.S.A.; 4. Newberry Library, Chicago (-1994); 5. Sam Fogg cat. 17(1996):1.
Commentary The importance of this scroll lies in its extremely early date of origin and its provenance. The text was composed in Sanskrit around 500 AD, and translated into Tibetan in the 7th c. This MS was written a few years after the beginning of Tibetan Buddhist literary production, and is one of the earliest witnesses to the text. It belongs to the Prajñaparamita literature, and was used in ritual context aimed at the prolongation of life. The famous Mogao caves, over 1000 in number, located near the oasis town of Dunhuang on the Silk Road in Central Asia, were used as library repositories for a wide range of literary MSS for conservation purposes in the period ca. 500-1000 AD by the Tibetan and Chinese occupants of the town. The caves were sealed at the beginning of the 11th c., and left undisturbed for almost 900 years. The MSS preserved in the Dunhuang caves, are probably older than any surviving in Tibet itself.
Published 1. Cultural relics from Dunhuang and Turfan. Jointly presented by the Shanghai Museum & The Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Art Gallery, 24 June - 2 Aug. 1987. 2. "Preservation for access: Originals and copies". On the occasion of the 1st International Memory of the World Conference, organized by the Norwegian Commission for UNESCO and the National Library of Norway, at the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo, 3 June - 14 July 1996.
Exhibited Special exhibition for H.H. The Dalai Lama, Oslo, 8.5.2014.
See also See also MS 2414, Sutra, China, 9th-10th c. 
See also MS 2153, Buddhanama sutra, China, ca. 920 
See also MS 2457/1, Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment, China, late 14th c. 
See also MS 2457/2, Avalokitesvara sutra, China, 15th & 16th c.
Place of origin Tibet
Dates Early 8th c.

Location