transformation texts

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(Chin., pien-wen).

Vernacular texts used for evangelical purposes in medieval Chinese Buddhism. Unlike the scriptures, which were in a very high literary style and used much technical vocabulary, these texts were cast in a popular form, and were mostly narrations of marvellous events adapted from Buddhist canonical literature. They were intended to be read aloud to temple visitors during festivals. They are significant on a literary level as they contain features that would become prominent later in Chinese novels, and are among the first examples of vernacular literature in Chinese history.

Subjects: Buddhism.

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