Berezkin R. Manuscripts of Precious Scrolls in the Performative Tradition of Changshu, Jiangsu Province, China

R. Berezkin
Fudan University
Shanghai, China 
ORCID: 0000-0003-1924-8535 
E-mail: berezkine56@yandex.ru

 

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ABSTRACT. “Telling scriptures” is a type of ritualized storytelling in the areas of former Changshu County, Jiangsu Province. Precious scrolls, mainly represented in handwritten manuscripts by masters of telling scriptures, act as scripts in this recitation practice. The main question addressed here is why masters of telling scriptures in Changshu still use traditional manuscripts of precious scrolls, even in this age of developed printing technology. There are several factors for the continuation of manuscript copying, one of the most important of them being the cultural tradition of precious scrolls transmission in the adjacent areas that can be traced back to the nineteenth century, when their recitation became especially popular around the city of Suzhou. Copying manuscripts of precious scrolls is still related to moralistic and devotional considerations. In this article, I mainly use materials obtained during my fieldwork in Changshu and adjacent areas between 2011 and 2015, but also approach the phenomenon of Changshu precious scrolls from the cultural and historical perspectives, putting it in the context of the development of precious scrolls in China since the late imperial period. I also discuss the exchange between printed materials and manuscript culture in the modern telling scriptures practice.

 

KEYWORDS: precious scrolls, baojuan, popular storytelling literature, folklore, Chinese popular religion, vernacular Buddhist ritual

 

DOI 10.31250/2618-860 0-2021-1(11)-154-179
UDK 398(510)

 

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