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The Economics of the Jiaxing Edition of the Buddhist Tripitaka

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This essay draws on economic information in the colophons and catalogues of the Jiaxing Tripitaka to examine the fluctuations of its costs and price in the late Ming and early Qing. The price of the texts included in the Jiaxing Tripitaka increased from the mid-seventeenth century onwards, as did the costs for transcribing and carving wood-blocks. Relative to the value of rice in the Yangzi Delta from 1589 to 1715, the value of a volume of the Tripitaka generally rose. Yet the relative value of a book is not the same as its affordability, which is determined by the book's price, its value relative to other commodities, the real income of the purchaser, and other economic and non-economic elements. It is hoped that this investigation will contribute new views to the history of books in late imperial China. Cette étude se fonde sur les données de nature économique contenues dans les colophons et les catalogues du Tripitaka publié à Jiaxing pour étudier les variations de par son coût de production et de son prix de vente à la fin des Ming et au début des Qing. Le prix des ouvrages inclus dans le Tripitaka de Jiaxing a augmenté à partir du milieu du XVIIe siècle, de même que le coût de la transcription et de la gravure. La valeur des volumes du Tripitaka s'est en général accrue par rapport à celle du riz dans le delta du Yangzi entre 1589 et 1715. Cependant la valeur relative d'un livre n'est pas la même chose que son accessibilité, déterminée par le prix de l'ouvrage, sa valeur par rapport à d'autres produits, le revenu réel de l'acheteur, ainsi que d'autres facteurs économiques ou non. L'on espère que cette recherche apportera de nouveaux éléments à l'histoire du livre dans la Chine impériale tardive.

Affiliations: 1: University of Oxford


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