The Tripiṭaka Koreana, an early edition of the Chinese Buddhist canon
Evolution of the Taishō Tripiṭaka from previous editions of the Chinese Buddhist canon

The Chinese Buddhist canon refers to a specific collection of Chinese language Buddhist literature that is deemed canonical in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese Buddhism.[1][2][3] The traditional term for the canon is "Great Storage of Scriptures" (traditional Chinese: 大藏經; simplified Chinese: 大藏经; pinyin: Dàzàngjīng; Japanese: 大蔵経; rōmaji: Daizōkyō; Korean: 대장경; romaja: Daejanggyeong; Vietnamese: Đại tạng kinh).[3] The concept of the Chinese Buddhist canon was influenced by the Indian Buddhist concept of a Tripitaka, literally meaning 'three baskets' - sutras, Vinaya, and Abhidharma. However, Chinese Buddhists historically did not have access to a Tripitaka of Indian Buddhist texts.[4] Rather, individual texts were brought to China individually or in small batches and translated one-by-one. This led to the creation of a distinct Chinese Buddhist canon.[5]


The Chinese Buddhist canon includes Āgama, Vinaya and Abhidharma texts from Early Buddhist schools, as well as the Mahāyāna sūtras and scriptures from Esoteric Buddhism. The Taishō Daizōkyō is the standard modern edition as systematized by Japanese scholars, published in Japan from 1924 to 1929.[6] The Taisho has fifty-five volumes and 2,184 texts, in the following categories:[6]

  1. Āgamas (equivalent to the Pali Nikāyas) and the Jātakas (219 texts in four vols.).
  2. Mahāyāna Sūtras, grouped into the following sections: Prajñaparamita, Lotus Sūtra, the Avatamsaka, the Ratnakūta, the Mahāparinirvāna, the Mahā-sannipāta and general ‘Sūtras’ (mostly Mahāyāna) (627 texts in thirteen vols.).
  3. Buddhist Tantras (572 texts in four vols.).
  4. Vinayas and some texts outlining Bodhisattvas ethics (eighty-six texts in three vols.).
  5. Commentaries on the Āgamas and Mahāyāna Sūtras (thirty-one texts in three vols.).
  6. Abhidharma texts (twenty-eight texts in four vols.).
  7. Mādhyamika, Yogācāra and other Śāstras (‘Treatises’ (129 texts in three vols.)).
  8. Chinese commentaries (twelve vols.).
  9. Chinese sectarian writings (five vols.).
  10. Histories and biographies (95 texts in four vols.).
  11. Encyclopaedias, dictionaries, non-Buddhist works (Hindu, Manichaean, and Nestorian Christian), and catalogues of various Chinese Canons (sixty-four texts in three vols.).

A supplement to the Taishō Daizōkyō was published in 1934. It contains forty-five volumes with 736 other texts, including Japanese texts, texts recently found at Dunhuang, apocryphal texts composed in China, iconographies and bibliographies.[6]


There are many versions of the canon in East Asia in different places and time. An early version is the Fangshan Stone Sutras (房山石經) from the 7th century.[7] The first printed version of the Chinese Buddhist canon was the 開寶藏 Kaibao Canon, printed by order of Emperor Taizu of Song in the fourth year of the Kaibao era (971).[8] The blocks used to print the Kaibao Canon were lost in the fall of the Northern Song capital Kaifeng in 1127 and there only about twelve fascicles of copies surviving. However, the Kaibao formed the basis for future printed versions that survive intact.

The earlier Qianlong Tripitaka (乾隆藏) and Jiaxing Tripitaka (嘉興藏) are still completely extant in printed form. The Zhaocheng Jin Tripitaka is the most complete earliest tripitaka to survive to this day.[9] The Tripiṭaka Koreana and the Qianlong Tripitaka are the only tripitakas for which we still have the complete set of wood blocks. The Tripiṭaka Koreana or Palman Daejanggyeong was carved between 1236 and 1251, during Korea's Goryeo Dynasty, onto 81,340 wooden printing blocks with no known errors in the 52,382,960 characters. It is stored at the Haeinsa temple, South Korea.[10]

One of the most used version is Taishō Shinshū Daizōkyō (Taishō Tripiṭaka, 大正新脩大藏經).[11] Named after the Taishō era, a modern standardized edition originally published in Tokyo between 1924 and 1934 in 100 volumes. It is also one of the most completely punctuated tripitaka.[12] The history of the Chinese Buddhist canon, including versions that have not survived, has been studied through the use of catalogs.[13] A well known catalog that is included in the Taishō Shinshū Daizōkyō the Kaiyuan Shijiao Lu 開元釋教錄 (Taisho no. 2154). Other catalogs are included in Volume 55.

The Xuzangjing (卍續藏) version, which is a supplement of another version of the canon, is often used as a supplement for Buddhist texts not collected in the Taishō Tripiṭaka. The Jiaxing Tripitaka is a supplement for Ming dynasty and Qing dynasty Buddhist texts not collected,[14] and a Dazangjing Bu Bian (大藏經補編) published in 1986 are supplements of them.[15]

The Chinese Manuscripts in the Tripitaka Sinica (中華大藏經–漢文部份 Zhonghua Dazangjing: Hanwen bufen), a new collection of canonical texts, was published by Zhonghua Book Company in Beijing in 1983–97, with 107 volumes of literature, are photocopies of early versions[16][17] and include many newly unearthed scriptures from Dunhuang.[18] There are newer Tripitaka Sinica projects.[19]


Mostly written in Classical Chinese. The Mi Tripitaka (蕃大藏經) is the Tangut canon.[20] Eric Grinstead published a collection of Tangut Buddhist texts under the title The Tangut Tripitaka in 1971 in New Delhi. The Taishō edition contains classical Japanese works. The Dunhuang edition contains some works in old Western Regions languages.[21] The Tripitaka Sinica mentioned above features a Tibetan section.

Non-collected works

Further information: Buddhist apocrypha

A number of apocryphal sutras composed in China are excluded in the earlier canons, such as composed stories the Journey to the West and Chinese folk religion texts,[22][23][24][25][26] and High King Avalokiteshvara Sutra. Modern religious and scholarly works are also excluded but they are published in other book series.


See also: Chinese translation theory


See also


  1. ^ Han, Yongun; Yi, Yeongjae; Gwon, Sangro (2017). Tracts on the Modern Reformation of Korean Buddhism. Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism (published September 20, 2017).
  2. ^ Storch, Tanya (2014). The History of Chinese Buddhist Bibliography: Censorship and Transformation. Cambria Press (published March 25, 2014).
  3. ^ a b Jiang Wu, "The Chinese Buddhist Canon" in The Wiley Blackwell Companion to East and Inner Asian Buddhism, p. 299, Wiley-Blackwell (2014).
  4. ^ Jiang Wu, "The Chinese Buddhist Canon through the Ages: Essential Categories and Critical Issues in the Study of a Textual Tradition" in Spreading Buddha's word in East Asia: the formation and transformation of the Chinese Buddhist canon, p. 23, ed. Jiang Wu and Lucille Chia, New York: Columbia University Press (2015)
  5. ^ Lancaster, Lewis, "The Movement of Buddhist Texts from India to China and the Construction of the Chinese Buddhist Canon", pp. 226-227, in Buddhism Across Boundaries--Chinese Buddhism and the Western Regions, ed. John R McRae and Jan Nattier, Sino-Platonic Papers 222, Philadelphia, PA: Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Pennsylvania (2012)
  6. ^ a b c Harvey, Peter (2013), An Introduction to Buddhism (Second ed.), Cambridge University Press, Appendix 1: Canons of Scriptures.
  7. ^ 房山石经的拓印与出版 Archived 2010-12-04 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Wu, Jiang; Chia, Lucille; Chen, Zhichao (2016). "The Birth if the First Printed Canon". In Wu, Jiang; Chia, Lucille (eds.). Spreading Buddha's Word in East Asia: The Formation and Transformation of the Chinese Buddhist Canon. New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 164–167.
  9. ^ Li, Fuhua [李富华] (May 19, 2014). 《赵城金藏》研究 [Studies of the "Zhaocheng Jin Tripitaka"]. 弘善佛教网 (in Chinese). Retrieved May 15, 2019. Currently the Beijing Library has 4813 scrolls...regional libraries have a total of 44 scrolls...555 scrolls belonging to the Jin Tripitaka were discovered in Tibet's Sakya Monastery in 1959--[in total approximately 5412 scrolls of the Jin Tripitaka (which if complete would have had approximately 7000 scrolls) have survived into the current era. The earliest dated scroll was printed in 1139; its wood block was carved ca. 1139 or a few years before.][permanent dead link]
  10. ^ Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. "Haeinsa Temple Janggyeong Panjeon, the Depositories for the Tripitaka Koreana Woodblocks" (PDF).
  11. ^ "刊本大藏經之入藏問題初探".
  12. ^ "No.2".
  13. ^ Li, Fuhua (2020). "An Analysis of the Content and Characteristics of the Chinese Buddhist Canon". In Long, Darui; chen, Jinhua (eds.). Chinese Buddhist Canons in the Age of Printing (Google Play ebook ed.). London and New York: Routledge. pp. 107–128. ISBN 978-1-138-61194-8.
  14. ^ 工具書‧叢書‧大藏經 Archived 2010-09-12 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ "佛学研究网|佛学论文|首届世界佛教论坛|张新鹰:《中华大藏经》——一项重大的佛教文化工程". Archived from the original on March 29, 2009.
  16. ^ "《金藏》劫波 一部佛经的坎坷路(图)_中国网". Archived from the original on July 7, 2011. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
  17. ^ "說不盡的《趙城金藏》". Archived from the original on June 12, 2010.
  18. ^ "略谈《中华大藏经》在汉文大藏经史上的地位 -- 佛学讲座 禅学讲座 禅宗智慧 禅与管理 -【佛学研究网】 吴言生说禅". Archived from the original on July 18, 2011.
  19. ^ "《中华大藏经(汉文部分).续编》的特点和结构" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on August 10, 2011. Retrieved January 23, 2011.
  20. ^ "404". ((cite web)): Cite uses generic title (help)
  21. ^ 怀念北图馆长北大教授王重民先生 Archived 2011-07-23 at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ "A Research on the Authenticity of the Bhikhuni Seng Fa from Jiangmi 關於江泌女子僧法誦出經" (PDF).
  23. ^ "一些伪经(作者:释观清)". Archived from the original on May 15, 2007. Retrieved May 23, 2010.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  24. ^ "助印佛经须知_昌缘居士_新浪博客".
  25. ^ "zz关于伪经 - 饮水思源". Archived from the original on July 7, 2011. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
  26. ^ 果卿居士《现代因果实录》的不实之处- 般若之门 Archived 2011-07-11 at the Wayback Machine

Further reading



Non-collected works