Pub Date2014
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The Body Incantatory: Spells and the Ritual Imagination in Medieval Chinese Buddhism

Paul Copp
Columbia University Press

Whether chanted as devotional prayers, intoned against the dangers of the wilds, or invoked to heal the sick and bring ease to the dead, incantations were pervasive features of Buddhist practice in late medieval China (600–1000 C.E.). Material incantations, in forms such as spell-inscribed amulets and stone pillars, were also central to the spiritual lives of both monks and laypeople. In centering its analysis on the Chinese material culture of these deeply embodied forms of Buddhist ritual, The Body Incantatory reveals histories of practice—and logics of practice—that have until now remained hidden.