Lothar Ledderose (雷德侯) & Wang Yongbo 王永波
This is the first volume of an extensive series dedicated to the Buddhist sutras carved into stone in several Chinese provinces. The sutra texts in Shandong, dating from ca. 560 to 580, were cut into bare rock under the open sky. These little known monuments are a major chapter in the history of art, in the Buddhist textual tradition, and in landscape design. The volume presents startling scripts on precipitous cliffs and massive boulders in photographs taken at the sites, and in rubbings made in ink. This corpus offers not only major religious texts, but also makes available almost unknown calligraphic achievements. Among them are conspicuous names of Buddhas, up to nine meters high, that were only discovered in the 1990s. They manifest the Buddhas in the very rock. The passages from the prajñāpāramitā literature at a large number of mountain sites underlines the religious communities' interest in meditation.
All texts at a particular site, including the passages from the Buddhist sutras and the later colophons, have been completely documented, translated and analyzed. They shed new light on an exciting period in Chinese history, when the Middle Kingdom was intimately engaged with Inner Asia and even India. The foreign religion, which brought the anthropomorphic pantheon to China, manifests itself here in the quintessential Chinese medium of calligraphy.