The Characteristics of Bizarre Monks Portrayed in Tang Tales
|Keywords:||唐代小說;異僧;生命姿態;神異;身分;Tang Tales;Bizarre Monks;Personality;Thaumaturgy;Identity||Issue Date:||2015||Abstract:||
Buddhist monks constitute an important and complicated group of characters in classic Chinese novels, but have received insufficient attention thus far. From the sacred descriptions found in hagiography and the mystic stories of the six dynasties, to the greedy, licentious images portrayed by the vernacular novels of Ming and Qing, it seems that the image of Buddhist monks in novels has greatly transformed over time, and that monks portrayed in Tang tales seem more lacking of compilation and discussion. However, in Taiping guangji, the most complete compilation of Tang tales, there are 12 volumes (volumes 87–98) dedicated to “bizarre monks” (yiseng), depicting Tang Buddhist monks in abundant ways. Moreover, descriptions of bizarre monks are not limited to volumes 87–98, but are widespread across all of the books. Why are these monks considered “bizarre”? How do the tales present their personalities and interactions with other characters? What is the meaning behind them? These complex characterizations, intersecting with various cultural and religious issues, are worthy of more detailed research. Therefore, this essay identifies the characteristics of bizarre monks on the basis of the compilation of related texts, and analyses the following three themes, attempting to interpret the basic traits of bizarre monks portrayed in Tang tales: The one is personality including asceticism, insanity, and affection; another one is versatile thaumaturgy mixed with Daoism and traditional beliefs; the other one is special affiliated identity such as scholar, knight-errant, foreigner, and monster.
|Appears in Collections:||中國文學系|
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