• The Great Wheel of Compassion: A Study of Dunhuang Manuscript P.3538

      Bingenheimer, Marcus; Duckworth, Douglas (Temple University. Libraries, 2015)
      Of the thousands of Buddhist manuscripts discovered at Dunhuang, there are many examples of non-official sūtras and dhāraṇī collections more difficult to identify than those with titles identical to canonical sūtras. Manuscript collection catalogs are the first sources consulted when one undertakes research involving manuscripts and in order to be a truly valuable resource, they need to reflect current scholarship. This thesis studies the Dunhuang manuscript, Pelliot chinois 3538, from different perspectives, examining its ritual, iconography, and textual variances. It compares its iconographical program to manuscript sūtras and canonical scriptures, uncovering new information regarding the content of multiple manuscripts. From this research it is apparent that P.3538 is an Avalokiteśvara dhāraṇī ritual that is iconographically informed from a variety of canonical texts: sūtras in the Nīlakaṇṭha/Qianshou cluster, the Mahāpratisarā dhāraṇī sūtra and its corresponding amulet culture, and sūtras connected with the bodhisattva’s narrative history. In examining other manuscripts from Cave 17, we have found that it is a member of a Dunhuang manuscript cluster and is visually represented in an ink on paper altar diagram, Stein no. Ch.00189, from the British Museum. Integrating these findings would enrich descriptive catalogs for future research.