Praying for Power: Buddhism and the Formation of Gentry Society in Late-Ming China

Overview

In 17th and 18th century China, Buddhists and Confucians alike flooded local Buddhist monasteries with donations As gentry numbers grew faster than the imperial bureaucracy, traditional Confucian careers were closed to many; but visible philanthropy could publicize elite status outside the state realm. Actively sought by fund-raising abbots, such patronage affected institutional Buddhism.

After exploring the relation of Buddhism to Ming Neo-Confucianism, the growth of tourism to...

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Overview

In 17th and 18th century China, Buddhists and Confucians alike flooded local Buddhist monasteries with donations As gentry numbers grew faster than the imperial bureaucracy, traditional Confucian careers were closed to many; but visible philanthropy could publicize elite status outside the state realm. Actively sought by fund-raising abbots, such patronage affected institutional Buddhism.

After exploring the relation of Buddhism to Ming Neo-Confucianism, the growth of tourism to Buddhist sites, and the mechanisms and motives for charitable donations, Timothy Brook studies three widely separated and economically dissimilar counties. He draws on rich data in monastic gazetteers to examine the patterns and social consequences of patronage.

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Editorial Reviews

T'oung Pao

Timothy Brook has written a splendid book which deals with two dimensions of Ming history that are still quite insufficiently studied in the West, namely, the social history of 'Buddhism' in the late imperial period (specifically the late Ming), and the study of social elites (the gentry). He makes important contributions to both fields, showing the vitality of Buddhist monastic institutions and the appeal of Buddhist religious culture among the highest levels of the local elite...The book presents a clearly structured argument, which is an enjoyment to read...Timothy Brook's important contribution to the social history of the late Ming period and of Buddhist life in particular can be read in several ways. It can serve as an excellent introduction to the social and religious history of the late Ming period for students at all levels, but also presents the established historian with a sound piece of investigative research. I, for one, look forward to taking up the arguments formulated here as a starting point for my own future research.
— Barend J. ter Haar

Asian Affairs

The author concludes that the phenomenon of gentry patronage is an important example of what he terms the separation of state and society in the late Ming. It is a careful, extremely well documented and well argued work and makes an important contribution to the field of gentry studies and China's social and religious history.
— Michael Dillon

T'oung Pao - Barend J. Ter Haar
Timothy Brook has written a splendid book which deals with two dimensions of Ming history that are still quite insufficiently studied in the West, namely, the social history of 'Buddhism' in the late imperial period (specifically the late Ming), and the study of social elites (the gentry). He makes important contributions to both fields, showing the vitality of Buddhist monastic institutions and the appeal of Buddhist religious culture among the highest levels of the local elite...The book presents a clearly structured argument, which is an enjoyment to read...Timothy Brook's important contribution to the social history of the late Ming period and of Buddhist life in particular can be read in several ways. It can serve as an excellent introduction to the social and religious history of the late Ming period for students at all levels, but also presents the established historian with a sound piece of investigative research. I, for one, look forward to taking up the arguments formulated here as a starting point for my own future research.
Asian Affairs - Michael Dillon
The author concludes that the phenomenon of gentry patronage is an important example of what he terms the separation of state and society in the late Ming. It is a careful, extremely well documented and well argued work and makes an important contribution to the field of gentry studies and China's social and religious history.
Asian Affairs
The author concludes that the phenomenon of gentry patronage is an important example of what he terms the separation of state and society in the late Ming. It is a careful, extremely well documented and well argued work and makes an important contribution to the field of gentry studies and China's social and religious history.
— Michael Dillon
T'oung Pao
Timothy Brook has written a splendid book which deals with two dimensions of Ming history that are still quite insufficiently studied in the West, namely, the social history of 'Buddhism' in the late imperial period (specifically the late Ming), and the study of social elites (the gentry). He makes important contributions to both fields, showing the vitality of Buddhist monastic institutions and the appeal of Buddhist religious culture among the highest levels of the local elite...The book presents a clearly structured argument, which is an enjoyment to read...Timothy Brook's important contribution to the social history of the late Ming period and of Buddhist life in particular can be read in several ways. It can serve as an excellent introduction to the social and religious history of the late Ming period for students at all levels, but also presents the established historian with a sound piece of investigative research. I, for one, look forward to taking up the arguments formulated here as a starting point for my own future research.
— Barend J. ter Haar
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674697751
  • Publisher: Harvard University Asia Center, Publiications PRG
  • Publication date: 1/28/1994
  • Series: Harvard-Yenching Institute Monograph Series , #38
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 428
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Meet the Author

Timothy Brook is Professor of History and Republic of China Chair at the University of British Columbia.
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Table of Contents

List of Tables
List of Maps
List of Figures
Preface
Translation Conventions
Introduction: Monastic Patronage and the Gentry: The Problem 1
The Historiography of Gentry Studies 5
Buddhism and the Gentry 15
Gentry Society and the Public Sphere 23
The Changing Social Context of the Buddhist Monastery 29
Pt. 1 The Culture of Buddhism
1 The Passionate Life of Zhang Dai 37
2 Like a Lid to a Box, Like Ice to Ash: Accommodating Buddhism 54
The Relationship of Buddhism to Neo-Confucianism 57
The Neo-Confucian Absorption 63
The Neo-Confucian Reaction 74
Accommodation 83
3 Holding a Cup of New Tea and Listening to Sutras: Buddhism in Gentry Culture 89
Assessing Buddhism's Presence in Gentry Society 91
Buddhist Observances and Rituals 96
The Organization of Lay Associations 103
Tourism and Cultural Pursuits 107
Gentry Uses of Monastic Space 114
Gentry Becoming Monks 119
Pt. 2 Monastic Patronage
4 The Patrons of Dinghu Mountain 137
5 How the Gentry Patronized Monasteries 159
Financial Patronage 160
The Acquisition of Land 165
Gentry Supervision of Monastic Affairs 172
Literary Patronage 176
Temporal Trends of Patronage 181
6 Why the Gentry Patronized Monasteries 185
Gender-Based Patronage 188
Kinship-Based Patronage 191
Religious Appeals 196
Social Appeals 202
Cultural Appeals 208
Social Networks 213
Publicizing Gentry Identity 215
Merchant Philanthropy in Contrast 217
Pt. 3 Patronage in Context
7 The Patronage of Gentry in a Small County: Zhucheng County, Shandong 227
Zhucheng Environment and Social Structure 228
The Zhucheng Gentry 236
Zhucheng Religious Institutions 238
Zhucheng Monastic Patronage 242
8 The Patronage of Gentry in a Large County: Yin County (Ningbo), Zhejiang 249
Yin Environment and Social Structure 250
Yin Religious Institutions 253
The Great Monasteries of Yin 255
The Yin Gentry 264
Buddhism and the Yin Gentry 266
Yin Monastic Patronage 271
9 Patronage and the County Magistrate: Dangyang County, Hubei 278
Buddhist Patronage and the State 279
Dangyang Environment and Social Structure 284
Dangyang Religious Institutions 288
Buddhism and the Dangyang Gentry 290
The Patronage of Yuquan Monastery 295
Gentry Patronage and the Magistrate 300
Conclusion: The Separation of State and Society 311
The Ideal of Withdrawal in the Late Ming 312
Buddhism and the Late-Ming Gentry 316
The Late Ming and the Late Song 321
The Late Ming and the Late Qing 325
Notes 335
Bibliography 373
Index 393
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