Lessons in Stone

Abstract:  LESSONS IN STONE: BAODINGSHAN AND ITS HELL IMAGERY

Dating from the later medieval period, the carvings found at Baodingshan in Dazu county, Sichuan, present a challenge to traditional conceptions of Buddhism in China. This thesis looks at how the placement of a prominent work devoted to hell within a major grotto site can be seen as reflective of the raised status of indigenous scriptures within the religious as well as the lay community.  This large-scale sculpted work addresses larger societal concerns as well as mirroring Song dynasty bureaucratic codes.  The Great Buddha Bend grotto is unique in that it alludes to changes in liturgical perception regarding the function of a religious site, and represents a break from the standard layout of pre-existing Chinese cave sites.  In doing so, the grotto also offers insight into changing methods of artistic transmission, the illustrated handscroll suggested as one possible source for the Great Buddha Bend’s unusual format.

 TABLE OF CONTENTS

I.  INTRODUCTION………………………………………………………………. 1

II.  BAODINGSHAN………………………………………………………………. 7

Sichuan: Home to the Dark Regions…………………………………………… 8

War’s Vicissitudes…………………………………………………………………16

One Man’s Devotion………………………………………………………………19

III.  RELIEF NUMBER 20: THE HELL TABLEAU.……………………….. 24

Historical Precedents…………………………………………………………….. 25

Analysis of the Hell Tableau Found at Baodingshan……………….. 28

IV.  THE FORMATION OF AN INDIGENOUS CHINESE SITE………….50

The Grotto at Baodingshan……………………………………………………….51

Issues of Text and Image………………………………………………………….56

V.  CONCLUSIONS……………………………………………………………….. 67

FIGURES……………………………………………………………………………..74

APPENDICES

A.  HYMNS INSCRIBED ON RELIEF NUMBER 20………………………… 156

Captions under the Ten Kings………………………………………………….   156

Mid-Level Inscriptions…………………………………………………………….. 162

Lower-Level Inscriptions…………………………………………………………. 167

B. LIST OF SCULPTURAL GROUPINGS FOUND AT GREAT BUDDHA BEND GROTTO ………..176

C. GLOSSARY OF SELECTED CHINESE NAMES AND TERMS.….. 178

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY………………………………………………………180