Signs from the Unseen Realm: Buddhist Miracle Tales from Early Medieval China
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328pp. March 2012
Signs from the Unseen Realm: Buddhist Miracle Tales from Early Medieval China
Author: Campany, Robert Ford;
In early medieval China hundreds of Buddhist miracle texts were circulated, inaugurating a trend that would continue for centuries. Each tale recounted extraordinary events involving Chinese persons and places—events seen as verifying claims made in Buddhist scriptures, demonstrating the reality of karmic retribution, or confirming the efficacy of Buddhist devotional practices. Robert Ford Campany, one of North America’s preeminent scholars of Chinese religion, presents in this volume the first complete, annotated translation, with in-depth commentary, of the largest extant collection of miracle tales from the early medieval period, Wang Yan’s Records of Signs from the Unseen Realm, compiled around 490 C.E.

In addition to the translation, Campany provides a substantial study of the text and its author in their historical and religious settings. He shows how these lively tales helped integrate Buddhism into Chinese society at the same time that they served as platforms for religious contestation and persuasion. Campany offers a nuanced, clear methodological discussion of how such narratives, being products of social memory, may be read as valuable evidence for the history of religion and culture.

Readers interested in Buddhism; historians of Chinese religions, culture, society, and literature; scholars of comparative religion: All will find Signs from the Unseen Realm a stimulating and rich contribution to scholarship.

Classics in East Asian Buddhism Series
Published in association with the Kuroda Institute
Author: Campany, Robert Ford;
Robert Ford Campany is professor of Asian studies and religious studies at Vanderbilt University.
Read the Introduction (PDF).
Preface 
Acknowledgments 
Conventions 

Part I. Signs from the Unseen Realm and Buddhist Miracle Tales in Early Medieval China  
Introduction  
Wang yan and the Making of Mingxiang ji  
Miracle Tales and the communities That Exchanged Them 
The idiom of Buddhism Represented in the Tales 
Miracle Tales and the sinicization of Buddhism 
The narrative shape of the Miraculous 
Religious Themes in the Text 

Part II. Translation: Signs from the Unseen Realm 

Appendix 1. Fragments and Questionable Items 
Appendix 2. List of Major Motifs 
Bibliography 
Index



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