Tibetan and Himalayan Library - THL

THL Title Text
Tibetan Buddhism at Wutai Shan in the Qing
Gray Tuttle, Columbia University
JIATS, no. 6 (December 2011), THL #T5721, pp. 163-214
Section 6 of 10 (pp. 179-183)

Alternate Registers: Imperial Literary Production Devoted to Wutai shan

During the Qing dynasty, Wutai shan was the subject of more gazetteers than any other site in the empire. This is a remarkable fact for this rural, almost frontier, location. A comparison of gazetteers dedicated to various sites in the Qing Empire will serve as an indication of the energy expended by the court to encourage the production of gazetteers devoted to Wutai shan. Using Timothy Brook’s Geographical Sources of Ming-Qing History as the point of comparison, it appears that during the Qing dynasty only Hangzhou’s West Lake, at the center of literati culture, had anywhere close to as many gazetteer versions and editions dedicated to it as did Wutai shan (some twenty editions dedicated to each site, though if you include non-Chinese languages, Wutai shan editions are clearly more numerous).72 Of course, Susan Naquin’s detailed study of Beijing yielded many more accounts of the Qing capital, including, notably, the regular reprinting of the Short Account of the City (Dumen jilue, fourteen editions between 1845-1910).73 The only other sites in the Qing Empire that provide a useful comparison, in terms of gazetteer production, are other sacred mountains (Tai shan, Emei shan, Lu shan, Heng shan, and Putuo shan) with around ten editions each.74 However, there is a major difference in the sponsorship of these productions. Whereas Brook makes no note of any connections between the other gazetteers and the Qing court, many of the Wutai shan gazetteers are imperial editions, and most can be linked to imperial patronage in one form or another. So if we take all these texts into consideration, not only does the number of Qing gazetteers devoted to Wutai shan exceed those of almost any other site in the empire, but their production was also more closely connected to the imperial court than any other place.

Table 3: Wutai shan (Also Known as Qingliang shan) Gazetteer List75

[page 180]
1661 Qingliang shan zhi [Clear and Cool Mountain Gazetteer] (reprint of 1596 edition), preface by the Mongolian monk, Awang Laozang, leader of Chinese and Tibetan affairs at the mountain.
1667 Mongolian gazetteer by Mongol Lozang TenjinBlo bzang bstan ’jin, at Awang Laozang’s behest.
1694 Qingliang shan xinzhi [New Clear and Cool Mountain Gazetteer] edited, with preface, by Chinese monk Laozang Danba (Lozang Tenpablo bzang bstan pa), third generation leader of Chinese and Tibetan affairs at the mountain.76
1701 Qingliang shan xinzhi [New Clear and Cool Mountain Gazetteer], edited by Laozang Danba, imperial reprint (from Gest Library)
1701 Mongolian translation of Qingliang shan xinzhi [New Clear and Cool Mountain Gazetteer], preface by the Kangxi emperor.
1701 Manchu translation of Qingliang shan xinzhi [New Clear and Cool Mountain Gazetteer], imperial printing.
1707 Qingliang shan xinzhi [New Clear and Cool Mountain Gazetteer] reprint made.
1721 Second Mongolian edition of Lozang TenjinBlo bzang bstan ’jin’s text.
between 1725-1750 Riwo Tsengé KarchakRi bo rtse lnga’i dkar chag [Guide to Wutai shan]. In Tibetan, by the Mongol Gombojab (Gönpo Japmgon po skyabs; Gönpo Kyap in Standard Tibetan pronunciation) in thirteen folios.
subsequent to above Jataka of the Five Hundred Pandits in the Blessed Temples of Wutai shan, Mongolian translation of Gombojab’s work by TendzinBstan ’dzin
1755 Qingliang shan zhi [Clear and Cool Mountain Gazetteer] (revised version of 1596 edition) recarved blocks with new preface (from Harvard’s Yen-ching Library).
before late eighteenth century Karchak Lhünpö GyenDkar chag lhun po’i rgyan [Guide to the Ornamented Mountain]. In Tibetan, by Lama [Riwo]tsé NgawaBla ma [ri bo] rtse lnga ba, Pelden DrakpaDpal ldan grags pa. Non-extant.
between 1767-1786 Riwo Dangsil Karchak Jukma TsangpaRi bo dwangs bsil dkar chag mjugs ma tshang pa [Incomplete Guide to Clear and Cool Mountain]. In Tibetan, by the Qing official, the Monguor Changja Rölpé DorjéLcang skya rol pa’i rdo rje; manuscript partial work in two chapters (printed in nineteenth century).77
[page 181]
1780 Qingliang shan jiyao [Summary of Clear and Cool Mountain]. Part of the Shanxi zhi jiyao [Summary of the Shanxi Gazetteer] (from Harvard’s Yen-ching Library).
post-1780 Qingliang shan jiyao [Summary of Clear and Cool Mountain]. Reprinted portable edition, by Wang Benzhi (from Harvard’s Yen-ching Library).
1785 Qinding Qingliang shan zhi [Imperial Gazetteer of Clear and Cool Mountain]. Manuscript compiled by imperial order.
1799 Riwo Tsengar Jelkapkyi Netö dang Drelwé Gur Jampel Gyepé Chötrin dang Düchen Khyeparchengyi NamshéRi bo rtse lngar mjal skabs kyi gnas bstod dang ’brel ba’i mgur ’jam dpal dgyes pa’i mchod sprin dang dus chen khyad par can gyi rnam bshad [Detailed Explanation of the Extraordinary Festivals and the Pleasing Cloud of Offerings for Manjusri: Spiritual Songs together with Praise of the Holy Place Encountered at Wutai shan]. In Tibetan, by the Monguor Aja Yangchen Gawé LodröA skya dbyangs can dga’ ba’i blo gros (1740-1827, Akya Yangchen Gawé Lodrö in Standard Tibetan pronunciation; possibly also served as a Qing lamabla ma official).
1811 Qinding Qingliang shan zhi [Imperial Gazetteer of Clear and Cool Mountain], first printing.
1812 Xixun sheng dian [Magnificent Record of the Western Tour], editor: Peng Lin.
1813 Riwo Dangsilgyi Jampel Tsenden Linggi Tsardukgi Kunyengyi Logyu Kortsé dang Chepa Deden Kyewö Trokyé Metok TrengdzéRi bo dwangs bsil gyi ’jam dpal mtshan ldan gling gi mtshar sdug gi sku brnyan gyi lo rgyu [sic] bskor tshad dang bcas pa dad ldan skye bo’i spro bskyed me tog ’phreng mdzes [A Beautiful Garland to Rouse the Faithful: A History and Circumambulation Survey of the Fine Statue in the Sandalwood Mañjuśrī Temple [Shuxiang Si] of Clear and Cool Mountain]. In Tibetan, by the Tümed Mongol Yeshé DöndrupYe she don grub by order of the Qing lamabla ma-official, the Huiwu Chanshi GandenDga’ ldan Sheregetü Khutugtu Erdeni Nom-yin khan, Ngawang Tupten Wangchukden Trinlé GyatsoNgag dbang thub bstan dbang phyug ldan ’phrin las rgya mtsho (from the Library of Congress).
early nineteenth century Riwo Dangsil Karchak Jukma TsangpaRi bo dwangs bsil dkar chag mjugs ma tshang pa [Incomplete Guide to Clear and Cool Mountain]. In Tibetan, by the Monguor Changja Rölpé DorjéLcang skya rol pa’i rdo rje; two chapters printed in the author’s Collected Writings (SungbumGsung ’bum) probably in first decade of nineteenth century (from the Library of Congress).

End of New Imperial Gazetteer Editions (No Clear Connection to Qing Court after 1813)

post-1810 Wutai shan daolu quantu [Complete Maps of the Ways and Routes to Wutai shan]. No preface or date, anonymous. Collected by Rockhill late nineteenth c. (from the Library of Congress).
post-1827 Riwo Tsengé Karchak Rapsel MelongRi bo rtse lnga’i dkar chag rab gsal me long [The Clear Mirror: A Guide to Wutai shan]. In Tibetan, by Dznyana ShrimanDznyā na shrī man (Ye[shé] Pel[den]Ye [shes] dpal [ldan]), probably a Mongol.
1831 Zhingchok Riwo Dangsilgyi Neshé Depé Pemo Gyejé Ngotsar Nyimé NangwaZhing mchog ri bo dwangs bsil gyi gnas bshad dad pa’i padmo rgyas byed ngo mtshar nyi ma’i snang ba [The Miraculous Sunlight that Makes the Lotus of Faith Increase: An Explanation of the Holy Place, the Excellent Region, of Clear and Cool Mountain]. In Tibetan, with revisions (actually all new material after Chapter Two) by the Great Translator Ngawang KelzangNgag dbang bskal bzang and Drotsang KhentrülGro tshang mkhan sprul and an appendix by the Mongol ChanglungLcang lung Arya Pandita, Ngawang Lozang Tenpé GyentsenNgag dbang blo bzang bstan pa’i rgyal mtshan (1770-1845).
1884 Wutai shan Trilogy (from Harvard’s Yen-ching Library) printed (one Tang and two Song gazetteers).
[page 182]
1887 Qingliang shan zhi [Clear and Cool Mountain Gazetteer] (from Harvard’s Yen-ching Library). Revised reprint of 1755 blocks; Local sponsors.

In giving the historical background of Wutai shan, I have argued that the Qing were bound to engage in this centuries-old pattern, if only because this would win them the legitimacy of maintaining the venerable tradition. Were the Qing emperors actually aware of this tradition, and if so how did they engage with it? From comparing the prefatory material and content pages of the previous (Ming) edition and the early Qing editions, a conscious effort at continuity is clear. The first preface explicitly mentions this continuity, which it dates back to imperial support for the site in the Tang, Song, Yuan, and Ming dynasties.78 Like the Ming preface, the early Qing prefaces talk in general Buddhist terms about the mountain and the dynasty’s sponsorship of Buddhism there. As Farquhar has noted, no major deviation from Chinese expectations, such as the claim that the emperor is a bodhisattva is made.79 The greatest surprise in the language of the prefaces is the appearance of the authors’ names – Awang Laozang and Laozang Danba – Tibetan names in Chinese transliteration.80 These are the first hints at the differences that were to be grafted onto the Ming gazetteer in the Qing period. I would suggest that this would have been very surprising to literate Chinese Buddhists at the time. Early Qing sources suggest that Tibetan Buddhism had quite a presence in the north of China, but this was the first instance of Tibetan Buddhists figuring so prominently in imperial publishing projects in the Chinese language since the Yuan dynasty, and this fact was surely noticed by Chinese readers.

The nature of the gazetteer sections is such that the chronological breakdown by dynasty emphasized the continuity of the support for Buddhism at the mountain. Thus, temples were described according to their old names, and, if they had a prominent place in the Qing patronage, were updated. While some of the older famous monks could be dropped from the new (1694) gazetteer, several new biographies were added, and in the case of two monks imperially appointed as the leaders at Wutai shan – both adherents of Tibetan Buddhism – their stūpa inscriptions were appended to the biography section. The closing piece of the new gazetteer, in the “Collected Writings” section, is a record of the restoration of a major Buddhist temple on the mountain written by its editor, the ethnically Chinese Tibetan Buddhist who had been imperially appointed as a leader at Wutai shan. As he was also the compiler of this new edition and author of its preface, this final addition serves to frame the text, mentioning the importance of the site in the Tang period, with obvious implications for the present dynasty.81 This strategy allowed [page 183] the Qing dynasty to both link itself with the past tradition and display its grandeur in terms of present patronage.

While continuing to support the forms of Buddhist patronage familiar to a Chinese audience, the Qing government also demonstrated to the Chinese that Tibetan Buddhism was central to the cultic site of Wutai shan patronized by the imperial house. As opposed to the scattered Ming gazetteer references to prominent visiting lamabla mas, such as the Fifth Karmapakarma pa and Shakya YeshéShākya ye shes, or to the minor local bureaucratic Tibetan Buddhist lamabla mas of the Ming, early Qing gazetteers were compiled and introduced by prefaces written by Tibetan Buddhists. The new biographies which were included about Tibetan Buddhists in the Qing were not merely visiting dignitaries or minor bureaucrats, but were men specifically given imperial positions and praised by the Kangxi emperor, as I will detail below. This is a significant difference from the Ming sources. Yet this shift in patronage was not exclusive but was made subtly, though firmly, from the early years of the Qing dynasty. Imperial publications from the Shunzhi reign-period on indicate quite clearly in Chinese that patronage at Wutai shan specifically benefited Tibetan Buddhists. The first public notice that Tibetan Buddhists were being elevated to pride of place at Wutai shan came with the preface of the reprinting of the Ming edition of the Wutai shan gazetteer in 1661.82 The preface can be seen as an assertion of authority by Awang Laozang, who had been sent to preside over (shang zhu) Mount Wutai, taking charge (zong li) of Chinese and Tibetan affairs in 1659.83


[72] Timothy Brook, Geographical Sources of Ming-Qing History, Michigan Monographs in Chinese Studies 58 (Ann Arbor: Center for Chinese Studies, 1988), 174-77. I have compiled a far more complete list, including Tibetan and Mongolian editions (see Appendix 1) of the gazetteers devoted to Wutai shan than that compiled by Brook (Geographical Sources, 45, 125-26). Knowing Brook’s devotion to the Jiangnan region, I feel confident that his survey of the West Lake gazetteers is comprehensive within the limitations of libraries in North America, a limitation I have also largely observed.
[73] Susan Naquin, Peking: Temples and City Life, 1400-1900 (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2000).
[74] Suzhou, Hangzhou, Ganzhou, or Nanjing might also figure in this accounting, but most of the gazetteers that Brook lists for these places are much more localized (guides to a particular monasteries or mountains), and thus do not have the same sort of coverage as the accounts I highlight here.
[75] All texts are in Chinese unless otherwise indicated. Notes given in Appendix 1. I have only included general descriptions of the entire mountain complex here, as opposed to more narrowly conceived temple histories or prayers to local deities, which are included in Appendix 1. For poetry related to the mountain, see Kurtis R. Schaeffer, “Tibetan Poetry on Wutai Shan,” Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies, no. 6 (December 2011), http://www.thlib.org?tid=T5719.
[76] See Gugong Bowuyuan, ed., Qingliang shan zhi [Clear and Cool Mountain Gazetteer], Qingliang shan xinzhi [New Clear and Cool Mountain Gazetteer], Qinding Qingliang shan zhi [Imperial Gazetteer of Clear and Cool Mountain] (Haikou Shi: Hainan Chubanshe, 2001), 5, 5a.
[77] Despite the fact that nearly everyone attributes the entire 1831 guide to Wutai shan to Changja Rölpé DorjéLcang skya rol pa’i rdo rje, he appears to have only authored the first two chapters of the later 1831 printing, as these were all that were printed in his collected works.
[78] The 1661 preface by Awang Laozang is preserved in Yen-ching Library’s Qingliang shan zhi (1755), preface, 4.
[79] Farquhar, “Emperor as Bodhisattva,” 31, n. 89. Though Köhle (“Why Did the Kangxi Emperor Go to Wutai Shan?” note 77) has noticed a more subtle connection was made between the emperor and Mañjuśrī, this was something that only Buddhists would notice, and not Confucian bureaucrats.
[80] Ngawang LozangNgag dbang blo bzang and Lozang TenpaBlo bzang bstan pa. See: Gugong Bowuyuan, Qingliang shan zhi [Clear and Cool Mountain Gazetteer] 5, 136.
[81] Gest Library’s Qingliang shan xinzhi (1701), volume 10, 17b-20a.
[82] Preserved in Yen-ching Library’s Qingliang shan zhi (1755), preface, 4b.
[83] Gest Library’s Qingliang shan xinzhi (1701), volume 7, 21b-24a.

Note Citation for Page

Gray Tuttle, “Tibetan Buddhism at Wutai Shan in the Qing: The Chinese-language Register,” Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies, no. 6 (December 2011): , http://www.thlib.org?tid=T5721 (accessed ).

Note Citation for Whole Article

Gray Tuttle, “Tibetan Buddhism at Wutai Shan in the Qing: The Chinese-language Register,” Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies, no. 6 (December 2011): 163-214, http://www.thlib.org?tid=T5721 (accessed ).

Bibliography Citation

Tuttle, Gray. “Tibetan Buddhism at Wutai Shan in the Qing: The Chinese-language Register.” Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies, no. 6 (December 2011): 163-214. http://www.thlib.org?tid=T5721 (accessed ).