Pu’an jiao

(Teachings of Pu’an)
Regional religious tradition
The Pu’an jiao is a ritual tradition known to exist in west-central Fujian and much of southern Jiangxi. Whether it is to be found elsewhere as well is not yet known. Nor is it known whether this tradition really goes back to the monk Pu’an whom practitioners worship as their ‘founding master’ (zushi). Pu’an (1115–69), whose lay name is Yu Yinsu, was a native of the district of Yichun (central Jiangxi, near the Hunan border) who is said to have achieved awakening during an interview with the Linji monk Mu’anzhong on Mt Wei in Hunan. Later, as abbot of the Cihuasi near his home village, he became famous for his miracles and exorcisms. Incorporated into the Linji lineage, Pu’an is the author of ‘discussions’ (yülu), which have been preserved in the Buddhist canon. His image in the Yuan-era Soushen daquan shows him with a bald pate and tufts of hair over both ears.
This iconography corresponds to tales told of Pu’an in west-central Fujian which recount that he was a Taoist who converted to Buddhism, but who wished to retain a trace of his Taoist origins by keeping these tufts (which resemble those of the Taoist exorcist par excellence, Zhang Daoling). Rituals performed by Pu’an specialists include communal Jiao, exorcisms, and funeral rituals (Gongde). Their texts, like their ritual implements and paintings, belong essentially to the Tantric tradition, albeit with a heavy admixture of Daoist elements of both national (see Daoism (Zhengyi tradition)) and local (see Lüshan jiao (Sannaijiao)) origin. Most practitioners identify themselves as ‘half-Buddhist, half-Taoist’, but some consider their identity to be Buddhist.
See also: vernacular priests (Daoist/Buddhist)
Lagerwey, John (2001). ‘Popular Ritual Specialists in West Central Fujian’. Shehui, minzu yu wenhua zhanyan guoji yantao hui lunwen ji. Taipei: Hanxue yanjiu zhongxin. 435–507.
JOHN LAGERWEY

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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