Sacred Economies

Buddhist Monasticism and Territoriality in Medieval China

Michael J. Walsh

Columbia University Press

Sacred Economies

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Pub Date: March 2010

ISBN: 9780231148320

256 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $65.00£54.95

Pub Date: March 2010

ISBN: 9780231519939

256 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $64.99£54.95

Sacred Economies

Buddhist Monasticism and Territoriality in Medieval China

Michael J. Walsh

Columbia University Press

Buddhist monasteries in medieval China employed a variety of practices to ensure their ascendancy and survival. Most successful was the exchange of material goods for salvation, as in the donation of land, which allowed monks to spread their teachings throughout China. By investigating a variety of socioeconomic spaces produced and perpetuated by Chinese monasteries, Michael J. Walsh reveals the "sacred economies" that shaped early Buddhism and its relationship with consumption and salvation.

Centering his study on Tiantong, a Buddhist monastery that has thrived for close to seventeen centuries in southeast China, Walsh follows three main topics: the spaces monks produced, within and around which a community could pursue a meaningful existence; the social and economic avenues through which monasteries provided diverse sacred resources and secured the primacy of Buddhist teachings within an agrarian culture; and the nature of "transactive" participation within monastic spaces, which later became a fundamental component of a broader Chinese religiosity.

Unpacking these sacred economies and repositioning them within the history of religion in China, Walsh encourages a different approach to the study of Chinese religion, emphasizing the critical link between religious exchange and the production of material culture.
The book is a good read. Robert Tollison, EH Net
Walsh has made a valuable contribution to the field of Chinese Buddhism. Ryan Richard Overbey, Religious Studies Review
Illustrations
Preface
Dynastic Chronology
1. Monastic Identity, Buddhist Religiosity, and Land
2. A Square at the Center of the World
3. Corporate Bodies
4. A Culture of Estates
5. Grains of Sand
6. Cultivating Salvation
7. Salvation and Survival
Appendix A. Yin County Buddhist Monastic Land, c. 1226 C.E.
Appendix B. Population Figures for Yin County, Ming Prefecture
Appendix C. Land Totals in Ming Prefecture
Appendix D. Major Structures in Tiantong Monastery's Compound
Notes
Glossary
Bibliography
Index

About the Author

Michael J. Walsh is associate professor of religion and Asian studies at Vassar College, where he teaches courses on the history of Chinese religion and theory and method in the study of religion.