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The particular fascicle which Chen Jinjie donated resources to help print contains a brief but very well known scripture called the ), which has been translated and studied by the Buddhologist Diana Paul.
It is one of the few Indic Buddhist scriptures in which the central character is a woman.
Much more research remains to be done on this rare item - I was not able to fully investigate the backgrounds of all the individuals mentioned above, and there may be additional donor notes that I missed, so it is possible that by further researching the backgrounds and life histories of these individuals, one would be able to figure out when they might have all been in the same region around the same time.
This would allow us to better fix the printing date and possibly also determine where the woodblocks were carved - possibly under the auspices of a monastery that was frequented or patronized by all of these local officials.
The second note is a little less obvious and can be found in the accordion fold between two pages in the middle of the text.
It reads: 福建路安撫趙大卿俸賓捨刊換, which I tentatively translate as "Zhao Daqing 趙大卿, Military Commissioner 安撫 of the Fujian circuit, has respectfully made offerings for printing expenses." Despite holding what would seem to be a fairly high-level position as a military commissioner, I could not find any specific biographical information on Zhao Daqing (also known as Zhao Songhe 趙松壑), although he is mentioned in passing in several Song sources.
Curious to see if this was indeed an eleventh-century book, David and I visited the Field Reading Room to take a closer look.
Presumably, the book itself was also printed around this time.The book, which is a woodblock print bound in accordion style, measuring approximately 30.5 x 12 cm, is clearly very old and many of the pages suffer from worming and are quite fragile.As we looked through the volume, I observed several short notes that had been added as marginalia on a few pages.At the end, all those who hear her speak are moved to convert to Buddhism, and the Buddha describes the great merit that will come from studying, copying, and disseminating these teachings.Because this is one of the few Buddhist scriptures in which a woman plays a central role, not only demonstrating a high degree of understanding of the particularly complex Buddhist doctrines presented in these teachings but also teaching these doctrines on behalf of the Buddha and receiving a prediction of her own future enlightenment, it seems particularly fitting and poignant that Chen Jinjie should have chosen this text to dedicate to the memory of his late wife, who we might surmise was herself a devout Buddhist laywomen.
Because there are so many known individuals associated with this printing, about whom further information can be found in sources such as local gazetteers and official histories, a project such as this would be well suited for the application of a digital humanities methodology such as social network mapping.