Signs from the Unseen Realm: Buddhist Miracle Tales from Early Medieval China

Hardback: $65.00
ISBN-13: 9780824836023
Published: May 2012

Additional Information

328 pages | 1 map
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  • About the Book
  • In early medieval China hundreds of Buddhist miracle texts were circulated, inaugurating a trend that would continue for centuries. Each tale recounted extraordinary events involving Chinese persons and places—events seen as verifying claims made in Buddhist scriptures, demonstrating the reality of karmic retribution, or confirming the efficacy of Buddhist devotional practices. Robert Ford Campany, one of North America’s preeminent scholars of Chinese religion, presents in this volume the first complete, annotated translation, with in-depth commentary, of the largest extant collection of miracle tales from the early medieval period, Wang Yan’s Records of Signs from the Unseen Realm, compiled around 490 C.E.

    In addition to the translation, Campany provides a substantial study of the text and its author in their historical and religious settings. He shows how these lively tales helped integrate Buddhism into Chinese society at the same time that they served as platforms for religious contestation and persuasion. Campany offers a nuanced, clear methodological discussion of how such narratives, being products of social memory, may be read as valuable evidence for the history of religion and culture.

    Readers interested in Buddhism; historians of Chinese religions, culture, society, and literature; scholars of comparative religion: All will find Signs from the Unseen Realm a stimulating and rich contribution to scholarship.

  • About the Author(s)
    • Robert Ford Campany, Author

      Robert Ford Campany is professor of Asian studies and religions at Vanderbilt University.
    • Robert Ford Campany, Translator

      Robert Ford Campany is professor of Asian studies and religions at Vanderbilt University.
    • Robert Ford Campany, Translator

      Robert Ford Campany is professor of Asian studies and religions at Vanderbilt University.
  • Reviews and Endorsements
    • "Taken together, the translation and study are valuable both for scholars and for undergraduates in courses on Buddhism, religious literature or Chinese religion." —<i>Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies</i> (76:1, 2013) <p> "Taken as a whole, the translation itself is refined, readable, and reliable. Campany has again set a new high standard for annotated Western-language translation of the <i>Mingxiang ji</i>, Campany's book is a very welcome addition to the expanding scholarship on the <i>zhiguai</i> genre in general and Buddhist miracle tales of the Six Dynasties in particular." —Xiaohuan Zhao, <i>China Review International</i> (19:2, 2012) <p> "The book is a comprehensive study and annotated translation with commentaries of <i>Mingxiang ji</i>, a collection of Buddhist miracle tales. As a translation and study of <i>zhiguai</i> literature, Campany's book has surpassed all previous endeavors by other scholars of the genre in terms of its comprehensiveness, depth, and texture." —Sing-Chen Chiang, Boston College
      —Boston College
    • "Taken together, the translation and study are valuable both for scholars and for undergraduates in courses on Buddhism, religious literature or Chinese religion." —<i>Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies</i> (76:1, 2013) <p> "Taken as a whole, the translation itself is refined, readable, and reliable. Campany has again set a new high standard for annotated Western-language translation of the <i>Mingxiang ji</i>, Campany's book is a very welcome addition to the expanding scholarship on the <i>zhiguai</i> genre in general and Buddhist miracle tales of the Six Dynasties in particular." —Xiaohuan Zhao, <i>China Review International</i> (19:2, 2012) <p> "The book is a comprehensive study and annotated translation with commentaries of <i>Mingxiang ji</i>, a collection of Buddhist miracle tales. As a translation and study of <i>zhiguai</i> literature, Campany's book has surpassed all previous endeavors by other scholars of the genre in terms of its comprehensiveness, depth, and texture." —Sing-Chen Chiang, Boston College
      —https://www.uhawaiipress.com/p-8618-9780824836023.aspx