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Buddhist Monasteries And Four Money-Raising Institutions In Chinese History

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Chapter Summary

In Chinese history, there are four money-raising institutions which either originated in or had close connections with Buddhist temples and monasteries. These four are pawnshop, mutual financing association, auction sale, and the sale of lottery tickets. Since the earliest references to the four money-raising institutions invariably link them to the Buddhist organization, we may tentatively assume their monasterial origin. Sale by auction in medieval monasteries is the only case in which the Indian influence is fairly certain. The other three institutions may have been a Chinese innovation, because the general concepts and practices of money lending, mutual help, and lot drawing were undoubtedly familiar to the Chinese prior to the introduction of Buddhism. The remarkable point is that Buddhist monasteries and their communal wealth apparently have provided favorable conditions for the growth of financial institutions and thus exerted considerable influence on the social and economic life of the secular world.

Keywords: auction sale; Buddhist temples; Chinese history; Chinese innovation; economic life; money-raising institutions; mutual financing association; pawnshop

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