Chinese TripiṠaka

Show Summary Details

Quick Reference

This term can refer to any edition of the complete collection of Buddhist literature in Chinese. During the first several centuries of Buddhism in China.literature was copied by hand, making the production of complete anthologies impractical. However, the advent of printing made possible the publication and distribution of large collections of literature, and often the Chinese court and nobility, along with large temples, sponsored the collecting, editing, and printing of the entire known corpus of Chinese Buddhist literature.

The first such effort was mounted by the Sung court in the 10th century, and the so-called Shu edition first appeared in 983. This edition involved the carving of 130,000 hardwood printing blocks. This monumental collection contained a total of 1,076 works (according to one catalogue) in 5,586 fascicles. In Northern China the Khitan Mongol rulers of the Liao dynasty had another set of blocks made and printed a new edition of the Tripiṭaka in 1055 based on the Shu edition. These two editions inspired the Korean court of the Koryŏ dynasty to print two editions of its own, one during the reign of King Hyeonjong (r. 1009–31), and the other during the reign of King Munjong (r. 1046–82). These two editions together contained some 1,524 works. In chronicle 1232, a new set of blocks was ordered, and this was completed between 1236 and 1251. Some 81,000 of these blocks remain stored at the Haein-sa on Mt. Kaya in southern Korea.and have been used in the 20th century to produce new copies of the Koryŏ edition.

Other editions of the Tripiṭaka based on the Shu edition appeared during the Chin dynasty (1115–1234) and the Yüan dynasty. A completely new edition appeared in southern China in 1176, the product of several decades of work sponsored privately by six successive abbots of the Tung-ch'an temple in Fukien province. This edition contained 50 per cent more content than the Shu edition, was published in an accordion-fold format rather than in hand scrolls, and the arrangement of text on the page mirrored older hand-copied editions, making scholarly comparisons easier. Because of all these factors, this edition became the standard for the remainder of the Yüan dynasty. Subsequent editions followed the Tung-ch'an temple edition closely in content and format, existing alongside other editions derived from the Shu edition.

The wars that brought the Yüan dynasty down and elevated the Ming dynasty to power brought about the destruction of many temple libraries, and the Ming emperor Hung-wu (r. 1368–98) had a new edition printed, based on the Tung-ch'an temple canon. Editions of the canon generally followed either the northern Shu or the southern Tung-ch'an temple editions until Japanese scholar-monks of the Edo period began conducting detailed comparative studies of both so that each edition could correct the errors and fill in the gaps in the other. These studies eventuated in the publication of three successive composite editions, each of which expanded upon its predecessor: the Dainippon Kōtei Daizōkyō in 1880–5, the Dainippon Kōtei Zōkyō in 1902–5, and the Taishō Shinshū Daizōkyō in 1924–34. This last edition has become the standard reference for Chinese Buddhist literature for modern scholars. Its 100 volumes contain 3,360 works.


Subjects: Buddhism.

Reference entries

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.