Xuanzang: A Buddhist Pilgrim on the Silk Road

Overview

The saga of the seventh-century Chinese monk Xuanzang, who completed an epic sixteen-year journey to discover the heart of Buddhism at its source in India, is a splendid story of human struggle and triumph. One of China’s great heroes, Xuanzang is introduced here for the first time to Western readers in this richly illustrated book.Sally Wriggins, who journeyed in Xuanzang’s footsteps, brings to life a man who transcended common experience. Eight centuries before Columbus, this intrepid pilgrim—against the wishes...

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Overview

The saga of the seventh-century Chinese monk Xuanzang, who completed an epic sixteen-year journey to discover the heart of Buddhism at its source in India, is a splendid story of human struggle and triumph. One of China’s great heroes, Xuanzang is introduced here for the first time to Western readers in this richly illustrated book.Sally Wriggins, who journeyed in Xuanzang’s footsteps, brings to life a man who transcended common experience. Eight centuries before Columbus, this intrepid pilgrim—against the wishes of his emperor—traveled on the Silk Road through Central Asia on his way to India. Before his journey ended, he had met most of Asia’s important leaders and traversed 10,000 miles in search of Buddhist scriptures. He was both a mountain climber who scaled three of Asia’s highest mountain ranges and a desert survivor who nearly died of thirst on the brutal flats; a philosopher and metaphysician; a diplomat who established China’s ties to Central Asian and Indian kings; and above all a devout and courageous Buddhist who personally nurtured the growth of Buddhism in China by disseminating the nearly 600 scriptures he carried back from India.Wriggins gives us vivid descriptions of the perils Xuanzang faced, the monasteries he visited (many still standing today), and the eight places of Buddhist pilgrimage in India. Detailed maps and color photographs provide striking evidence of the vast distances involved and the appalling dangers Xuanzang endured; reproductions of Buddhist art from museums around the world capture the glories of this world religion while revealing a cosmopolitan era in which pilgrims were both adventurers and ambassadors of goodwill.An engaging introduction to Buddhism and Buddhist art, this unique book takes the reader on a rousing adventure that also gives a compelling view of Asian history and civilization.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A remarkable and unprecedented pilgrimage to India in A.D. 639-645 by the Chinese Buddhist monk Xuanzang is one of the great milestones in the history of China's long love affair with Buddhism. Xuanzang returned from that trip laden with Buddhist scriptures, artifacts and a treasure trove of spiritual learning for his homeland, thus transforming Buddhism's position in China and energizing its reception by the ruling classes. Wriggins has, in this small book, provided a practical introduction to Xuanzang and a useful text accompanied by maps and photographs. Despite the fact that Wriggins's prose is often dull (the stuff of guidebooks rather than of holy travel), Xuanzang's travels prove interesting enough to make even these flaws seem minor; and Wriggins's book will provide a significant introduction to an extraordinary traveler's extraordinary contribution to Buddhist history. (May)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813334073
  • Publisher: Westview Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1996
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 292
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.73 (d)

Meet the Author

Sally Hovey Wriggins was the first Westerner and first woman to walk extensively in the footsteps of Xuanzang. Having lived and traveled in Asia for several years based out of Sri Lanka, she also studied with the Venerable Kheminda Thero. She is a regular contributor to Archeology and Orientations.

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Table of Contents

List of Maps
Foreword
Preface
Acknowledgements
Notes on Spelling and Pronunciation
1 The Pilgrim & The Emperor 1
2 The Oases of the Northern Silk Road 19
3 The Crossroads of Asia 35
4 The Land of India 51
5 Philosophers & Pirates in Northern India 73
6 The Buddhist Holy Land 91
7 Nalanda Monastery & Environs 113
8 Philosophers, Rock-Cut Caves & A Fortune-Teller 129
9 The Journey Home to China 149
10 Back in China 169
Afterword: The Legacy of Xuanzang 185
Glossary 195
Notes on Illustrations 208
Notes 224
Selected Bibliography 249
About the Book and Author 257
Index 258
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