Buddhist arts books donated to Massey

At the ceremony (from left) Karzin Leong, Karina, Dolly Tsai, John Charles, Venerable Manshin, Professor Giselle Byrnes, Venerable Rulian, Linda Palmer, Associate Professor Kerry Taylor, Dr Sandi Shillington and Tianshu Dong.

Humanities and visual arts scholars have a rich new source to tap into after a 20-volume set of books on Buddhist arts was donated to Massey University.

The Auckland-based Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple gifted the Encyclopedia of Buddhist Arts to the School of Humanities in a ceremony at the Manawatū campus last week. 

The collection, published by the headquarters of Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Order in March 2013, is the first great modern-day compendium of the world’s Buddhist arts. It comprises four volumes on Buddhist architecture, five on grottoes, four on Buddhist sculpture, three on painting, one on crafts, one on calligraphy and seals, and one on biographies, plus an index. The books in the set contain almost 3.8 million characters and more than 15,000 pictures. Published both in Chinese and English by the Chinese Buddhist order based in Taiwan, a set of the English version was presented to the University.

Assistant Vice-Chancellor Research, Academic and Enterprise Professor Giselle Byrnes says “the University is delighted to receive this generous gift from the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple,” noting that the volumes will be appreciated and used by both staff and students. “Given the breadth of subject areas covered in these volumes, they will be an excellent teaching resource and useful resource tool.”

University librarian Linda Palmer says the books will be held at the Manawatū campus library for reference only, to support Asian studies, philosophy, history and visual arts, and also as a source of information and images for Buddhist staff and students.

The monks indicated they are interested in presenting the Chinese version to the Albany [campus] Library,” she says.

More than 10 universities and libraries around the world, including SOAS University of London, Renison University College, the British Library and the University of Otago, have been gifted the set, which took 17 years to complete.

Karzin Leong, marketing and event officer, says the order “strongly believes that the complete volume of encyclopedias is essentially a compendium that fills a gap on Buddhist arts. This would no doubt benefit researchers and students in the realm of humanities studies.” 

Fo Guang Shan Buddhist temples are established in Christchurch as well as Auckland. 

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