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Chinese Buddhism

This is a very interesting series of films about Chinese Buddhism made around 2004-5 by Chinese TV itself. It starts and finishes with the installation of a new Abbot in the Bolin Temple in Zhaozhou, and I have the feeling it might be sponsored by that temple.

The series covers the establishment of Buddhism in China at the White Horse Temple, and important translators like Kumarajiva and Xuanzang. We see the work of the Nanjing Publishing House which sets the standard for Chinese Buddhist publications in modern times, and the film also looks at the modern academic education system established for monastics.

There are a couple of episodes on important temples, like those at Mount Emei and Shaolin, and grottoes such as the Yungang and Luoyang Grottoes. The two final chapters look at Buddhist music as it has been passed down from the Tang dynasty, and relic worship.

Overall the films are interesting, even if a little dated by now, contain some unusual material, and are well worth seeing. Some of the information is occasionally incorrect, and one small problem is occasionally the subtitles seem to switch off, and restart only a minute or two later.

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