Translating the Ta: Pagoda, Tumulus, and Ritualized Mahāyāna in Seventh-Century Chinahttps://architecturasinica.org/bibl/IHT4K5KA
Preferred CitationMiller, Tracy. “Translating the Ta: Pagoda, Tumulus, and Ritualized Mahāyāna in Seventh-Century China.” Tang Studies 36, no. 1 (2018): 82–120. https://doi.org/10.1080/07375034.2018.1535236.
This essay examines the relationship between pagodas and tombs in Medieval China through a close reading of the “Preface to the Sūtra on the Merits of Constructing a ta, as Spoken by the Buddha” (Foshuo zaota gongde jingxu 佛說造塔功德經序), written by the Silla monk Woncheuk 圓測 (613–696), and an investigation into the cultural environment of the monk himself. Working in and around the cosmopolitan world of court-sponsored Buddhism in both Chang’an and Luoyang, Woncheuk was strongly influenced by Tathāgatagarbha thought, and his interpretation of Yogācāra Buddhism ultimately became very influential in Tibet and Korea. By placing the pagoda in the context of Woncheuk’s thought, as well as recent research on amulets, architecture, and other thaumaturgical devices in the early medieval ritual praxis of South Asia and North China, I argue that Woncheuk’s equation of ta to fen suggests the monuments had more than a memorial or symbolic function. Rather his “Preface” reflects a belief that the two types of architecture were operating on the same technological principles—they were both designed as tools to channel natural, even cosmic, energies through “mountains” and into powerful remains in order to aid in personal and societal salvation.
Additional Citation Information
Title: Translating the Ta: Pagoda, Tumulus, and Ritualized Mahāyāna in Seventh-Century China
Title: Tang Studies
Date of Publication: 2018