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This volume dedicated to the Buddhist stone sutras in China is the first one on the sites in Sichuan Province. These monuments are all but unknown outside of China. Characteristic for Sichuan are cave chapels hewn out of red sandstone cliffs, each containing tens of thousands of characters. The volume presents the Grove of the Reclining Buddha (Wofoyuan) in Anyue County, where more than a hundred caves have been identified. In spite of the magnificence of this extraordinary site, few people have ever visited the valley, and almost nothing has been published about it. Sichuan 1 contains maps and extensive photographs and it concentrates on two 8th-century cave chapels in particular. Engraved in their walls are about 71000 characters of the Lotus Sutra, the most treasured scripture in Buddhism. Here, this text version is recorded for first time. The engravings are fully reproduced in high-quality photographs and in ink rubbings, and the scholarly apparatus of the transcription notes variant characters in the text and in the calligraphy.
The research team led by Lothar Ledderose consists of a group at the Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften and specialists from Peking University as well as from the Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology at Chengdu. Stephen F. Teiser of Princeton contributes an essay with a wide ranging and contextual interpretation of the Lotus Sutra at the site. The volume is bilingual in Chinese and English and directed at a wide audience.