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«A Dissertation Presented in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirement for the Degree Doctor of Philosophy Approved November 2011 by the Graduate ...»

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Flowers Bloom and Fall:

Representation of The Vimalakirti Sutra In Traditional Chinese Painting

by

Chen Liu

A Dissertation Presented in Partial Fulfillment

of the Requirement for the Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Approved November 2011 by the

Graduate Supervisory Committee:

Claudia Brown, Chair

Ju-hsi Chou

Jiang Wu

ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY

December 2011

ABSTRACT

The Vimalakirti Sutra is one of the classics of early Indian Mahayana Buddhism. The sutra narrates that Vimalakirti, an enlightened layman, once made it appear as if he were sick so that he could demonstrate the Law of Mahayana Buddhism to various figures coming to inquire about his illness. This dissertation studies representations of The Vimalakirti Sutra in Chinese painting from the fourth to the nineteenth centuries to explore how visualizations of the same text could vary in different periods of time in light of specific artistic, social and religious contexts.

In this project, about forty artists who have been recorded representing the sutra in traditional Chinese art criticism and catalogues are identified and discussed in a single study for the first time. A parallel study of recorded paintings and some extant ones of the same period includes six aspects: text content represented, mode of representation, iconography, geographical location, format, and identity of the painter.

This systematic examination reveals that two main representational modes have formed in the Six Dynasties period (220-589): depictions of the Great Layman as a single image created by Gu Kaizhi, and narrative illustrations of the sutra initiated by Yuan Qian and his teacher Lu Tanwei.

The latter mode, which became more popular than the former in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), experienced adaptation from handscroll to panoramic mural. It is also during this period that a minor scenario, the Heavenly i Maiden Scattering Flowers, became a necessary vignette for representation of the sutra.

Since the Song Dynasty (960-1279), the Heavenly Maiden Scattering Flowers gradually became an independent theme. This author investigates the thematic shift caused by various factors. These include the transformation of later Chinese narrative painting and the prevalence of shinu hua 仕女畫, painting of beauties, in later Chinese painting. There is also a change in the role of the Heavenly Maiden from one of many maidens to the only and necessary partner of Vimalakirti. Ultimately, the image of the Heavenly Maiden evolves from a Buddhist heavenly being to a Daoist fairy and later to a symbol representing auspicious meanings.

–  –  –

First and foremost I offer my sincerest gratitude to my supervisor at Arizona State University, Dr. Claudia Brown, without whom this dissertation could not have been written. Her insights into later Chinese painting and catalogues have been an inspiration to me and I am grateful for her guidance and valuable comments for this project. She has been my role model of professionalism and enthusiasm throughout my graduate study.

I owe a special thanks to Dr. Ju-hsi Chou, Professor Emeritus of ASU and former Curator of Chinese Art, Cleveland Museum of Art, who has served as a member of my committee. His input has greatly shaped this project and his diligence in research and care for every student has set an example for me. I would also like to warmly acknowledge another member of my committee, Professor Jiang Wu of University of Arizona, who has given me consistent support and important suggestions throughout the process of this research.

It is a pleasure to thank those who made this dissertation possible:

Dr. Janet Baker of the Phoenix Art Museum, Ms. Hwai-ling Yeh-Lewis of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Mr. Sheng Hao of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Mr. Fu Hongzhan of the Palace Museum, Beijing. It is by their generosity and kind help that I have had the chance to view some of the important paintings discussed in this work.

–  –  –

Deacon, Ms. Eileen Engle, Ms. Karyn Murphy, Dr. Sherry Harlacher, Ms.

Momoko Soma Welch, Ms. Jacqueline Chao and Ms. Hua Ming. They have given me enormous support, which made my graduate school years in the United States unforgettable.

I am heartily thankful to my parents and my family for their longtime support and encouragement. My utmost thanks go to my husband Dr. He Ning who has always been there for me whenever and wherever. Last but not least, I want to thank our lovely son He Yixing, who has been such a good boy in the first three years of his life so that I can keep working on and finally complete this dissertation.

–  –  –

INTRODUCTION…………………………………………………….........1 1 The Content of The Vimalakirti Sutra……………………...……….1 Chinese Translations of The Vimalakirti Sutra…………….…….10 Previous Scholarship and This Dissertation‟s Contribution…….14 Object and Methodology of This Research………………………20 Prospectus…………………………………………………………..23

2 VIMALAKIRTI SUTRA REPRESENTATION IN THE SIX DYNASTIES





PERIOD…………………………………………………………………………29 The Vimalakirti Sutra Represenation by Gu Kaizhi………….....29 The Iconography of the Waguansi Representation………....….37 The Originality of the Waguansi Representation…………........46 Six Other Six Dynasties Artists……………….…………………..52 The Earliest Extant Vimalakirti Sutra Representation……….…59 Some Chinese Features in the Binglingsi Representation…….63 Some Unique Features in the Binglingsi Representation…......67

3 VIMALAKIRTI SUTRA REPRESENTATION FROM SUI TO FIVE

DYNASTIES ………………………….………………………..………………76 The Sui Dynasty…………………………….…………….……….77 Early Tang: Yan Liben and Wu Daozi……………………….…...82 High Tang to Late Tang………………………….……………..….95

–  –  –

4 VIMALAKIRTI SUTRA REPRESENTATION IN THE SONG AND YUAN

DYNASTIES…………………………………………………………………..111 Two Extant Vimalakirti Sutra Representations Related to Li Gonglin……………………………………………………………..112 A Possible Model for the Bu’er tu………………………………..121 Buddhist Patrons and Collections…………………….…………129 The Secularization of Vimalakirti Sutra Representation …...…133 The Vimalakirti Sutra Representation Attributed to Liu Songnian……………………………………..…………………….137 Various Modes in Representing the Sutra……………………...139

5 VIMALAKIRTI SUTRA REPRESENTATION IN THE MING AND QING

DYNASTIES………………………………………………………….……….149 Vimalakirti Sutra Representation Attributed to Tang Yin and Qiu Ying

Li Lin‟s Vimalakirti Sutra Representation………………………156 Ding Guanpeng‟s Bu’er tu………………………………………..158 The Heavenly Maiden Scattering Flowers………………...……166 Reasons for the Independence of the Heavenly Maiden Theme…………………..…………………….……………………172

–  –  –

The Change in the Role of the Heavenly Maiden……...177 Influence of Daoism and Folk Belief…………………….180

6. Conclusion…………………...…………………………………………....185 BIBLIOGRAPHY…………………………………………………………...…197

–  –  –

The Vimalakirti Sutra or Weimojie jing 維摩詰經, whose full name is The Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra or Weimojie suoshuo jing 維摩詰所說經, is one of the classics of Mahayana Buddhism originated in India around 100 A.D. 1 Among all the Buddhist classics, it is unusual because its protagonist is not the Buddha himself but a layman named Vimalakirti and yet it is still called a sutra. 2

1. The Content of The Vimalakirti Sutra There are fourteen chapters in The Vimalakirti Sutra. 3 The book starts with “ru shi wo wen (如是我聞, thus have I heard),” as all the other 1 For the origin of the sutra, see Sun Changwu, Zhongguo wen xue zhong de Weimo yu Guanyin. (Tianjin: Tianjin jiao yu chu ban she, 2005),

30. For a detailed discussion on Mahayana Buddhism, see Paul Williams, Mahayana Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations. London: Routledge,

2009. For further study of the history of Buddhism, see Noble Ross Reat, Buddhism: A History (California: Asian Humanities Press, 1994).

2 The Vimalakirti Sutra and The Srimala Devi Sutra 圣鬘经 are the only two of the kind. The protagonist of the latter is Queen Srimala, who converted to Buddhism and preached the law of the Buddha in the sutra.

For an English translation, see Alex Wayman and Hideko Wayman, trans., The Lion's Roar of Queen Srimala: A Buddhist Scripture on the Tathāgatagarbha Theory (New York: Columbia University Press, 1974).

3 All the Chinese translations of the Vimalakirti Sutra can be seen in Da zang jing kan xing hui, Da Zang Jing (Taibei: Xin wen feng chu ban gong si, 1983).

1 Buddhist classics do. 4 Chapter One displays a scene in which the Buddha gives his lectures to all kinds of Buddhist figures in the Amra Gardens in the city of Vaishali.5 The Buddha‟s teaching sets the keynote of Mahayana Buddhism for the sutra. From the second to the twelfth chapter, it is through Vimalakirti‟s conversations, discussions and demonstrations that the text‟s ideas on Mahayana Buddhism are gradually revealed.

Vimalakirti, as described in Chapter Two of the sutra, is a wealthy layman who has achieved enlightenment and can claim nirvana and his Buddhahood but insists instead to reside in Vaishali in order to save people.6 In the description, he lives like a normal person. He has a family and does everything common people might do such as earning money, going to brothels and gambling. But the text keeps pointing out that all these deeds are to educate people and to teach them Buddhist discipline.

4 “Thus have I heard” suggests that all the sutras are recited by Ananda, one of the Buddha‟s disciples, from what he heard from the Buddha.

5 Vaisali, or Vaishali or Vesali, was the capital of the Licchavi Republic, which was a democratic kingdom established in the region of the modern day Bihar State of India (northeastern of India) in the sixth century B.C.

and later moved to Nepal, existing there from 400 A.D. to 750 A.D.

6 In this sense, Vimalakirti could be regarded as a Bodhisattva. In fact, he is even regarded by some scholars as playing the role of the Buddha in the sutra. See Sun, Zhongguo wen xue zhong de Weimo yu Guanyin, 39.

2 Then, there was a time when Vimalakirti made it appear as if he were sick so that he could demonstrate the Law of Mahayana Buddhism to various figures coming to inquire about his illness.

The Buddha, who was aware of his intention, asked ten of his disciples and four bodhisattvas to go to see him, but all refused because of Vimalakirti‟s renowned eloquence. In Chapter Three, the Buddha asks ten of his disciples in succession to inquire after Vimalakirti‟s illness.

–  –  –

Mahamaudgalyayana, Mahakasyapa, Subhuti, Purnamaitrayaniputra, Mahakatrayana, Aniruddha, Upali, Rahula and Ananda, would not go.

They all replied that they had had the experience of failure in debating Buddhist doctrines with Vimalakirti before. For example, there was a time when Ananda wanted to go to someone‟s house and ask for a bowl of milk for the Buddha when he was sick. Vimalakirti, upon seeing this, stopped him and said that the Buddha cannot be sick since he had achieved Buddhahood. He insists that saying Buddha is sick indicates he cannot cure sick people if he cannot cure his own illness. This vignette will be referred to as Ananda Asking for Milk or Anan qiru 阿難乞乳 in later discussions by this author.

–  –  –

bodhisattvas one after another to visit Vimalakirti. Again, these four, Maitreya, Licchavi Prabhavyuha, Jagatimdhara, Sudatta, also express their reluctance to go because of their previous conversations with Vimalakirti. Finally, Bodhisattva Manjusri (Ch.: Wushu pusa 文殊菩薩) agreed to go and thousands of figures followed him to witness the brilliant debate about to begin in Chapter Five. Some essential concepts of Mahayana Buddhism such as emptiness (Ch.: kong 空) and nonduality (Ch.: bu’er 不二, literally, “no-two”) were explained by the Great Layman. Kong suggests “the false or illusory nature of all existence” and refers to “the doctrine that all phenomena and the ego have no reality, but are composed of a certain number of skandhas or elements, which disintegrate.”7 Bu’er refers to “the unity of all beings, the one reality, the universal Buddha-nature.”8

–  –  –

supernatural power to overawe the assembly. In Chapter Six, after 7 William Edward Soothill and Lewis Hodous comp., A Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms: With Sanskrit and English Equivalents and A Sanskrit-Pali Index (London: K. Paul, Trench, Trubner & co., ltd., 1937), 276.

8 Ibid, 103.

4 reading Shariputra‟s thoughts on sitting, Vimalakirti has the Sumeru Lamp King moved thirty-two thousand lion seats into his room. Magically, these seats accommodated to his room for the crowd to sit on.

Vimalakirti then explains to Shariputra that this is brought about by the emancipation Beyond Comprehension possessed by bodhisattvas. In other words, the bodhisattvas have the ability of moving the whole world.

In later chapters, this vignette will be referred to as Thirty-Two Thousand Lion Seats.



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