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Tsing Hua Journal of Chinese Studies
ISSN 0577-9170; DOI 10.6503/THJCS


Buddhist Guest Houses of the Sung and Yuan Dynasties

Vol. 27 No. 2   6/1997  


Buddhist Guest Houses of the Sung and Yuan Dynasties


Min-chih Huang









Key words

Sung Dynasty, Yuan Dynasty, Buddhism, Buddhist Guest Houses


      It was well known that Buddhist monasteries serve food and accommodation to travelers in the Sung and Yuan time. However there were some special guest houses set up catering for the needs of people attending Zen, studying Buddhist scriptures, the pilgrims, traveling preaching monks, and the common people. Some of these places were small pavilions or halls served as midway testing places where tea and water were provided, and were the predecessors of Buddhist guest house. Some of them were located at the hubs, while others at the strategic mountainous passes with little transports available. Each served different functions and purposes. Nevertheless these guest houses were only transitional; once they had expanded in size, they would formally become monasteries and were no longer receiving guests as guest houses.

    Buddhist guest house were most commonly seen along the roads of Fukkien and Zhejiang Provinces during Sung and Yuan Dynasties. High concentration of Buddhist guest houses in these areas could reflect a fact that southern China was a wealthier region, and could afford to construct and support these guest houses. Two most important things contributed to enlarge our underst anding of the existence of Buddhist guest houses: one was the well-kept historical written materials, the other one was the widespread activities of various Buddhist sectsespecially the Zen Buddhismin this region in the Sung and Yuan periods.

    Besides the benevolent religious factors, Buddhist guest houses built in Sung and Yuan dynasties also provided separate rooms and boards to segregate the monks and the publics. The increasing number of guest houses, halls and nunneries after Sung dynasty had enhanced their closer contacts and further penetration into the society, and accelerated the path of monastery becoming more secular later on.



Author: Min-chih Huang
Genre: Article
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