Abstract of Four Lectures on Buddhist Literature in China

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    Saggistica, Religioni

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IN the introduction to a work 1 published in the year 1 871 I called attention to the fact that we possessed at that time, in England at least, no complete set of the Buddhist Sacred Writings as they are known in China and Japan. These Sacred Writings, constituting what is called the Tripitaka, or three receptacles, had been printed at various times in China from wooden blocks, which were as often destroyed by fire or civil war. It is said that during the Sung and Yuan dynasties (a.d. 960 — 1330) as many as twenty different editions had been produced, but during the troubles occurring towards the end of the Yuan period all these perished. During the Ming dynasty (a.d. I 360 — 1620) two editions, called the Southern and the Northern, were published, the latter of which was reproduced in I 586 by a priest called Mi tsang after twenty years' labour. This edition 1s known in Japan as the Ming tsong, or Tripitaka of the Ming dynasty. It is this copy of the Sacred Books that I requested His Excellency Iwakura Tomomi to procure for the India Office Library, and which he so generously promised to do, in 1874. A similar request had been already made at Pekin, but the Chinese Government, jealously conservative, had declined to accede to it. We were fortunately able to look elsewhere, and in 18 75 the entire Tripitaka was received at the India Office, in fulfilment of the promise made by the Japanese ambassador.

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