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Iconological study of Potalaka White-robed Kuan-shih-yin

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A reconstruction of the 12th century Long Roll of Buddhist Images, based on internal evidence, reveals a distinct iconographical unit of White-robed Kuan-shih-yin images. The Kuan-shih-yin images with such accompanying cartouches as She-fu-li, P'u-t'o-lo-shan, Pai-shui-ching, Ku-chueh-hai-an, and Hsun-sheng-chiu-ku may be traced to the most fundamental and complete esoteric textual iconography of the Potalaka White-robed Kuan-shih-yin. The emphasis on a grouping of White-robed Kuan-shih-yin images, set against the background of Potalaka, the Pure Land of Kuan-shih-yin in this scroll may derive not only from the Buddhistic interpretation of Pandura, the Bodhi, but also from its specific importance to the Ta-li Kinkdom. For example, the original stock of the ruling family was known as the "White people," and the legend of the founding of the kingdom relates a prophecy delivered by a " White-robed Maiden," an apparition of the "White stone Kuan-shih-yin." The paper concerns itself primarily with the following problems : 1) Scrutinization of literary source materials pertaining to the Potalaka White-robed, Kuan-shih-yin iconography-sutras, liturgical texts, explanatory notes on iconography in collections of iconographical drawings, biographical accounts of crucial historical personalities and local gazetteers. 2) Interpretation of their causal relationships with the pictorial renditions of the iconography. 3) Definition of degrees of confiations between T'ang and Sung iconographical elements in the above context. 4) Distillation of prefigurational contents germane to. Ta-li culture from the tightly programmed unit of Potolaka White-robed Kuan-shih-yin figures represented in the Long Roll of Buddhist Images.

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