Name/TitleAbhidharma Treatise of Discerning Myriad Things (Abhidharma prakara apāda śāstra), Princeton University, East Asian Library
About this objectBuddhism was a religion of the book and, by the time it reached Korea and Japan, the book was usually in the form of a scroll made of paper and written in Literary Sinitic translation. Buddhist manuscripts were themselves objects of veneration and both chanting and copying them was an act of piety. This copy of the Buddhist text, Abhidharma Treatise of Discerning Myriad Things (Skt. Abhidharma prakara apāda śāstra), is attributed to the Indian scholar Vasumitra in the second century AD and was translated by two Indian monks while staying at a monastery in Nanjing, China, in the 5th century. This manuscript was copied by a scribe in Nara in 742 on the orders of Queen Consort Kōmyōshi (光明皇后) (701–760). The prayer at the end shows that it was part of a project sponsored by Kōmyōshi to copy the whole of the Buddhist canon—it is estimated this would have taken 40 miles of paper—in memory of her deceased parents. Kōmyōshi was an active patron of Buddhism and also sponsored Buddhist temples. She was later considered to be a bodhisattva and worshipped by nuns at Hokkeji (法華寺), a temple she established in Nara in 745.
Subject and Association KeywordsArrivals
Subject and Association KeywordsBooks
Subject and Association DescriptionLearn More: Daisuke 2002; Lowe 2011; Meeks 2010.
Medium and MaterialsInk on paper
Measurements26.2 x 678 cm
Credit LineCourtesy of the East Asian Library and the Gest Collection, Princeton University Library
Object numberEXH23: Gest Manuscript 220