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Goddess on the FrontierReligion, Ethnicity, and Gender in Southwest China$
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Megan Bryson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780804799546

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804799546.001.0001

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Baijie’s Background

Baijie’s Background

Religion and Representation in the Nanzhao and Dali Kingdoms

(p.21) 1 Baijie’s Background
Goddess on the Frontier

Megan Bryson

Stanford University Press

Chapter one goes back to the Nanzhao (649-903) and Dali kingdoms (937-1253) to understand the broader context in which the Buddhist Baijie arose. It shows that though Nanzhao and Dali rulers adopted most of their Buddhist texts from Chinese territory, they embraced Indian Buddhist images and claimed Indian origins for their Buddhist tradition. Moreover, it was their worship of distinctive deities with Indian iconography that distinguished their Buddhist tradition from that of Tang and Song China. This emphasis on India did not just stem from India’s prestige as Buddhism’s birthplace, but also from Dali’s position in relation to China. While Nanzhao and Dali rulers could not claim equality with Chinese rulers as Sons of Heaven, their relative proximity to India meant that they could claim superiority as Buddhist monarchs.

Keywords:   Nanzhao kingdom, Dali kingdom, Buddhism, India, Tang dynasty, Song dynasty, religion

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