Patrons and Patriarchs: Regional Rulers and Chan Monks during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms

Hardback: $55.00
ISBN-13: 9780824853815
Published: August 2015

Additional Information

264 pages | 15 black & white illustrations
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  • About the Book
  • Patrons and Patriarchs breaks new ground in the study of clergy-court relations during the tumultuous period that spanned the collapse of the Tang dynasty (618–907) and the consolidation of the Northern Song (960–1127). This era, known as the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms, has typically been characterized as a time of debilitating violence and instability, but it also brought increased economic prosperity, regional development, and political autonomy to southern territories.

    The book describes how the formation of new states in southeastern China elevated local Buddhist traditions and moved Chan (Zen) monks from the margins to the center of Chinese society. Drawing on biographies, inscriptions, private histories, and government records, it argues that the shift in imperial patronage from a diverse array of Buddhist clerics to members of specific Chan lineages was driven by political, social, and geographical reorientations set in motion by the collapse of the Tang dynasty and the consolidation of regional powers during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms. As monastic communities representing diverse arrays of thought, practice, and pedagogy allied with rival political factions, the outcome of power struggles determined which clerical networks assumed positions of power and which doctrines were enshrined as orthodoxy. Rather than view the ascent of Chan monks and their traditions as instances of intellectual hegemony, this book focuses on the larger sociopolitical processes that lifted members of Chan lineages onto the imperial stage. Against the historical backdrop of the tenth century, Patrons and Patriarchs explores the nature and function of Chan lineage systems, the relationships between monastic and lay families, and the place of patronage in establishing identity and authority in monastic movements.

  • About the Author(s)
    • Benjamin Brose, Author

      Benjamin Brose is assistant professor of Chinese Religions in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Michigan.
  • Reviews and Endorsements
    • [Patrons and Patriarchs] is an insightful monograph covering the relationship between regional rulers and Chan monks during this era, offering a comprehensive, detailed analysis of the figures that Sinicized Chan Buddhism. Sophisticated in its breadth, it is packed with names, places, and dates that require careful digestion.
      —Buddhistdoor Global
    • It represents a solid addition to scholarship in the field of Chinese Buddhism, particularly in the period known as the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms, a period that covered the better part of the tenth century. . . . Those interested in political, social, and economic forces as shapers or history will be satisfied with this volume.
      —Journal of Chinese Studies
    • This is but one set of questions prompted by Brose’s excellent study, which provides much food for thought about how dharma lineage functioned in Chinese social networks, and how the dynamics of patronage spawned Chan Buddhism as we know it.
      —Reading Religion: A Publication of the American Academy of Religion
    • . . . one can readily appreciate the wealth of information presented in the book, as well as the many instances of insightful commentary and judicial analysis, which touch upon a host of intersecting themes and issues. In that sense, the book represents a welcome addition to the still limited coverage of Buddhism during the Tang–Song transition. . . . the book’s basic approach and presentation style are refreshingly straightforward and to the point, largely without the questionable kinds of superfluous theoretical obfuscations that at times mar contemporary American scholarship. Among its main strengths is the attention to detail, numerous instances of insightful analysis, and careful use of primary sources.
      —Monumenta Serica
    • Benjamin Brose’s Patrons and Patriarchs: Regional Rulers and Chan Monks during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms is a very good book. . . . Patrons and Patriarchs is well written, and well organized . . . this book represents a new high-water mark in Chan studies.
      —H-Net Reviews