History, Material Culture and Auspicious Events at the Purple Cloud: Buddhist Monasticism at Quanzhou Kaiyuan
Nichols, Brian J.
Kripal, Jeffrey J.; Klein, Anne C.
Doctor of Philosophy
Quanzhou Kaiyuan Monastery is an important Buddhist monastery on the Southeast coast of China, in Fujian. It was founded in the seventh century and survives with artifacts from every imperial dynasty stretching back more than one thousand years. Today it is the home of more than eighty monks and the site of a vibrant tradition of devotional life. The following chapters examine Kaiyuan monastery from multiple points of view (time, space, inhabitants and activities, discourse and relations with the state) in order to produce a multi-dimensional portrait considering the contributions of each element to the religious and institutional life of the monastery. In shedding light on monastic Buddhism in contemporary China, this study contributes to a small but growing body of knowledge on the revival of religion in post-Mao China. The study begins with a historical survey of the monastery providing the context in which to understand the current recovery. Subsequent chapters chronicle the dual interplay of secular and non-secular forces that contribute to the monastery's identity as a place of religious practice for monastics, laypersons and worshipers and a site of tourism and leisure for a steady stream of visitors. I survey the stages of recovery following the Cultural Revolution (chapter four) as well as the religious life of the monastery today (chapter five). Other chapters examine how material culture (chapter six) and memorials to auspicious events and eminent monks (chapter seven) contribute to the identity of the monastery. Chapters eight and nine consider how Kaiyuan balances demands to accommodate tourists while remaining a place of religious practice.