Iconic books are texts revered as objects of power rather than just as words of instruction, information, or insight. In religious and secular rituals around the globe, people carry, show, wave, touch and kiss books and other texts, as well as read them. This blog chronicles such events and activities. (For more about iconic books, see the links to the Iconic Books Project at left.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Ancient Sutra auctioned

Bloomberg Radio reports on a Beijing auction:
"On Saturday, Hanhai auctioned a copy of the Prajna Paramita sutra that included an inscription claiming it was from the caves of Dunhuang in western China, where Buddhist art and religion thrived from the fourth century. The 3.1 meter parchment scroll, with the portrait of a sitting Buddha, sold to an anonymous phone bidder for 2.6 million yuan, a record for an ancient Chinese manuscript.
The inscription at the end, bearing the mark of collector Li Shengduo (1858-1935), a former envoy to Japan and owner of one of China's most extensive collections of ancient texts, says the scroll came from Dunhuang and was written in about 247. The Prajna Paramita sutra is believed to have been first translated into Chinese from Sanskrit around 402 by the monk Kumarajiva."
(Note: 2.6 million yuan = around $341,000)

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