A Record of Buddhist Monasteries in Luoyang: Five Juan


The Luoyang qielan ji (A record of Buddhist monasteries in Luoyang), written by Yang Xuanzhi during Northern Wei (386‒534), is a gazetteer of Buddhist monasteries. The word qielan is derived from the Sanskrit word saṃgha-ārāma, which means Buddhist temple. In the mid-sixth century, Yang Xuanzhi (the dates and places of his birth and death are unknown) was an adjunct of the Pacification Army. In the 17th year (493) of the Taihe reign of Northern Wei, Emperor Xiaowen moved the capital to Luoyang. A devotee of Buddhism, he began construction of temples, but in the midst of the turbulence of the Yongxi reign (534) of Emperor Xiaowu, which resulted in the ending of Northern Wei, the city was totally destroyed. In 547, the fifth year of the Wuding reign, Yang Xuanzhi, who was passing through the city of Luoyang, reflected on its flourishing and lamented its declining years. To preserve its memory, he began to collect old legends and stories about the ancient ruins and compiled this work. Based on the locations of the Buddhist temples of Luoyang, he grouped the material into inner city, and east, south, west, and north sides, which provided a clear layout. Si ku quan shu zong mu ti yao (Annotated bibliography of the complete imperial library) mentions that “the language of the work is magnificent and elegant. It is long but not boring. It can stand side by side with Shui jing zhu (Commentary on the water classic) by Li Daoyuan, also of Northern Wei. Yang also described in this book, in great detail, the turmoil caused by Erzhu Rong (493‒530), a general of Northern Wei of Xiongnu ancestry, who overthrew one emperor and put another on the throne and slaughtered many imperial officials, thus providing a useful historical reference. The text contains rich information on citations of ancient ruins and local customs, providing a rich supply of strange stories.” There are no surviving Song and Yuan editions. Presented here is a Ming edition, printed by Ruyintang, which is the earliest edition extant. It is printed on white cotton paper, and the print is of good quality. According to Zhongguo ban ke tu lu (Illustrated catalog of block-printed editions), this copy may have been published by Ming playwright Lu Cai (1497‒1537), a native of Wu Xian, during the Jiajing period (1522‒66).

Last updated: July 27, 2016