When Buddha *Tejaprabha Came to Yunnan: Regional Characteristics and His Place in the Local Pantheon

Jan 31, 2018 | 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

Liao Yang (Professor, Institute of Ethnology & Anthropology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; Visiting Scholar, Harvard-Yenching Institute)
Chair/discussant: Eugene Wang (Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Professor of Asian Art, Department of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University)

Co-sponsored with the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies

Due to deep-rooted astral worship, Buddha *Tejaprabha 熾盛光佛 was deified in the Late T’ang, and thereafter was introduced into Liao, Xixia, Uyghur, and even Japan and Korea in virtue of his great power to eliminate all disasters and bring fortune to believers. *Tejaprabha also came to Yunnan at the turn of the Yuan and Ming Dynasties. Related visual remains have been discovered in Dali and Lijiang, the local centers of the Bai and Naxi people, respectively. Some regional characteristics are perceptible; for example, *Tejaprabha might bear some Tibetan Buddhist artistic features in Lijiang, which was an important stop along the Tea-Horse Road. Generally speaking, *Tejaprabha was taken as a Buddhist equivalent to Emperor Ziwei紫微, the Taoist personification of the North Star. Furthermore, he was usually paired with the Medicine Buddha in Yunnan. A new triad was established on this structure, with each member representing an element of Confucian virtues.