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Esoteric Buddhism Under The Song: An Overview

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Chapter Summary

The engine of translation that had sustained Chinese Buddhism for some seven hundred years had for all intents and purposes stopped. Writing at the end of the tenth century, the leader of the Buddhist community in the early Northern Song, tells that the Tang Yoga lineages continued down to his own time, though their stature and accomplishments did not match that of their Tang forebears. The early Northern Song emperors looked to the civilizing heroes of the ancient Zhou as well as to the more recent reign of Tang emperor Xuanzong as benchmarks and patronized religion, literature, and the arts in an effort to restore the cultural heritage lost is the chaos following the collapse of the Tang. A remarkable number of sculptures of deities of esoteric origin survive from the Song period, the majority in the southwest.

Keywords: Esoteric Buddhism; Song period; Tang Yoga lineages



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