Table of Contents
- NEW BOOK> Figures of Buddhist Modernity in Asia, ed. by Samuels, McDaniel, Thomas, and Rowe
- NEW BOOK> A Chinese Traveler in Medieval Korea: Xu Jing’s Illustrated Account of the Xuanhe Embassy to Koryŏ, by Sem Vermeersch
by Charles MullerFrom University of Hawai'i Press
Cloth - Price: $65.00
240pp. June 2016
Cloth - Price: $65.00
This book introduces contemporary Buddhists from across Asia and from various walks of life. Eschewing traditional hagiographies, the editors have collected sixty-six profiles of individuals who would be excluded from most Buddhist histories and ethnographies. In addition to monks and nuns, readers will encounter artists, psychologists, social workers, part-time priests, healers, and librarians as well as charlatans, hucksters, profiteers, and rabble-rousers—all whose lives reflect changes in modern Buddhism even as they themselves shape the course of these changes.
The editors and contributors are fundamentally concerned with how individual Buddhists make meaning and display this understanding to others. Some practitioners profiled look to the past, lamenting the transformations Buddhism has undergone in recent times, while others embrace these. Some have adopted a “new asceticism,” while others are eager to explore different religious traditions as they think about their own ways of being Buddhist. Arranging the profiles according to these themes—looking backward, forward, inward, and outward—reveals the value of studying individual Buddhists and their idiosyncratic religious backgrounds and attitudes, thus highlighting the diversity of approaches to the practice and study of Buddhism in Asia today. Students and teachers will welcome sections on further readings and additional tables of contents that organize the profiles thematically, as well as by tradition (Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana), region, and country.
NEW BOOK> A Chinese Traveler in Medieval Korea: Xu Jing’s Illustrated Account of the Xuanhe Embassy to Koryŏ, by Sem Vermeersch
by Charles MullerFrom the University of Hawai'i Press
A Chinese Traveler in Medieval Korea: Xu Jing’s Illustrated Account of the Xuanhe Embassy to Koryŏ
400pp. May 2016
Cloth - Price: $65.00
"The king and ministers, superior and inferior, move with ritual and refinement. When the king goes on an inspection tour, everyone has the correct ceremonial attributes and the divine flag [troops] gallop in front while armored soldiers block the road. The soldiers of the Six Divisions all hold their attributes. Although it is not completely in uniformity with classic rites, compared with other barbarians it is splendid to behold. This is why Confucius thought it would not be a shame to reside here. And is not moreover Kija's country a close relative of the hallowed dynasty?"
So observed the Song envoy Xu Jing in the official report of his 1123 visit to Korea—a rare eyewitness account of Koryŏ (918–1392) society in its prime. Officially, the purpose of Xu Jing's visit was to condole the new king, Injong, on the death of his father and present him with a letter of investiture; unofficially, he was tasked with persuading Injong to align with Song China against the newly emergent Jin dynasty. Although famous for its celadon and Buddhist paintings, the Koryŏ period is still very much terra incognita in world history because of the lack of translated source materials. The present work, the first fully annotated, complete translation of a key source text on Koryŏ, fills this gap.
Xu Jing spent a little more than a month in the Koryŏ capital, Kaesŏng, but he was a meticulous chronicler, compiling a veritable handbook on Koryŏ that is full of fascinating details found nowhere else on daily life, history, customs and manners, buildings, the military and food, among others. However, Xu Jing was not unbiased in his observations and supplemented his work with unreliable information from earlier chronicles—a fact often ignored in previous studies of the Illustrated Account. In a substantial introduction to his translation, Sem Vermeersch not only places this important work in its historical context, but also reveals both the sources used by the author and the merits and limits of his observations, allowing historians of medieval Korea to make fuller use of this singular primary source.