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The fourth volume on the engraved Buddhists texts in the Grove of the Reclining Buddha (Wofoyuan), Sichuan, presents section D with two sutra caves. In cave 59, which boasts an exquisite ornamentation, the enormous Nirvana sutra begins, only interrupted by two meditation texts. The Sutra continues in cave 66 with ca. 65,000 characters. All engravings are fully reproduced in detailed high quality photographs of the cave walls and of ink rubbings. The texts are transcribed for the first time, with notes on textual variants and variant characters. The book is in Chinese and English throughout. Essays focus on new insights about this treasure trove.
In a brilliant art historical analysis, Jessica Rawson shows that cave 59 is a reliquary seen from inside; Mark L. Blum gives a detailed appraisal of the Nirvana Sutra and its significance at the Grove; Eric M. Greene aptly places the two meditation texts in cave 59 into the history of early Chan Buddhism in China; Ryan Richard Overbey discusses the history, the versions, and the import of the Sutra on the Profound Kindness of Parents. Translations from the Sutra on the Ten Wheels and from the Scripture on the Secret Essentials of Meditation are provided. In his introduction, series editor Lothar Ledderose discusses the significance of the precinct. With its colossal sculpture of the Buddha as he enters nirvana at the northern side of the valley, and the colossal Nirvana Sutra engraved on its southern side, the Grove is one of the great Buddhist sites in Asia and a unique monument in coming to terms with death.