Diamond Prajna Paramita Sutra


This complete scroll from the first year of the Yifeng era (676) of the Tang dynasty was unearthed in Dunhuang, China. The scroll contains the Diamond Prajna pāramitā sutra, a work that is an important sacred text in the prajñā line of Mahayana Buddhism as well as a foundational text in Chinese Chan (Japanese Zen) Buddhism. The text was transmitted to China in the Period of Southern and Northern Courts in many translations, but the translation by Kumārajīva is the most respected. For generations, it was felt that reciting the Diamond prajna pāramitā sutra would confer limitless merit. People competed in copying it and printing it, with the result that it enjoyed very wide circulation. Prajñā means wisdom; pāramitā means to cross over from this shore of births and deaths to the shore of enlightenment; “diamond” signifies the firmness and keenness of one's wisdom. The general message of the sutra is that if one is as firm and keen as a diamond in one's understanding, one can put an end to all anguish and attachments. This scroll, collated by the Palace Library and completed by imperial order by officials of the Palace Administration, is a typical Tang dynasty court manuscript. The empress Wu Zetian (624-705) commanded the copying of the Lotus Sutra and the Diamond prajna pāramitā sutra upon the death of her mother.


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Publication Information

Wu Zetian, Xi’an, Shaanxi Sheng


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Physical Description

One scroll, 457.3 × 25.7 centimeters


Last updated: April 27, 2015