Abstract：The Lotus Sutra is a classic of Mahayana Buddhism. Soon after Kumarosh translated the Lotus Sutra, it was widely spread and influential in China. The first 432 numbers of fragments from the Dunhuang Secret Collection were collected by Li Shengduo. On the basis of a comprehensive survey of the published Lotus Sutra, according to document content, edge shapes, textual layout, calligraphy style and font, etc., 10 numbers of fragments in the Dunhuang Secret Collection with 14 others in other collections can be pieced together into 10 groups. Details of the 10 groups are as follows: (1) Hane 123+BD 5527+BD 5531; (2) BD 11333+Hane 122; (3) BD 6992+Hane 296; (4) Hane 130+S. 6846; (5) BD 7058+Hane 6; (6) Hane 405+BD 4218+BD 4202+BD 4104+BD 4198; (7) BD 1400+Hane 149; (8) BD 8739+Hane 398; (9) S. 7246+Hane 360; (10) Hane 353+P. 3139.
Our efforts help the displaced “children” reunite into the “family”. More importantly, our efforts also help date some fragments with no chronological information by themselves. For instance, BD 7058 (in group 5) can now be safely dated as being copied in the second year of Shangyuan of the Tang Dynasty (i.e., 675 AD) after it was pieced together with Hane 6, which carries a transcription date at the end of its text reading “10/28, 2nd year of Shangyuan”. Since 10 folios in Li’s collection can now be pieced together with 11 folios (or fragmental scrolls) in the National Library of China into seven groups, with 2 folios (or fragmental scrolls) from Stein’s collection in Britain into two groups, and with 1 folio (or fragmental scroll) from Pelliot’s collection in France into one group, they can now be verified as genuine manuscripts from Dunhuang Library Cave.
Through a recombination of the Lotus Sutra folios of the Dunhuang fragmental manuscripts, we have obtained the following four insights:
1. The edges of some fragmental folios do not completely match after they are pieced together. For example, only the middle part of the tail of Hane 123 can be exactly fitted together with the head of BD 5527, while their upper and lower parts cannot be completely pieced together. It might be the case that the upper and lower parts of the folios were damaged before Li Shengduo tore along the damaged part of the sheet to cover up his theft. It might also be possible that the upper and lower parts of Hane 123 got worn out in the process of dispersion after Li had torn the sheets into separate pieces. Similarly, it might also be the case that the middle of BD 5527 remains unaffected while the upper and lower parts get affected by the environment. The crack between the edge of the tail of BD 5527 and that of the head of BD 5531 might be damages of paper caused by temperature, humidity, and other environmental factors.
2. It is highly likely that Li Shengduo tore the scrolls along the pasted areas between paper sheets, or at the blank space between lines of characters, so as to avoid damaging the characters and make the numbered scrolls appear untouched as they should have been. For example, after BD 11333 and Hane 122 are combined, the crack at the joint is roughly vertically downward along the paste between the sheets, and only the characters “以是” in the upper part of one sheet are torn. For another example, after BD 4202 and BD 4104 are combined, only the characters “灭后 and “持” were slightly damaged at the crack. It seems that Li Shengduo must have been very careful when he was tearing sheets from the scrolls. The above pieces of evidence not only confirmed Li Shengduo’s theft, but also revealed the details of his tearing to fill the count.
3. Some fragmental scrolls might have been worn out due to daily use, selection, and other activities. For example, Hane 130 and S. 6846 may have been inadvertently separated by monks in their daily religious activities before they were sealed up in the Library Cave, or by Aurel Stein when he was selecting the manuscripts after Taoist Wang Yuanlu reopened the Library Cave.
4. Some fragmental folios might have fallen apart naturally at their sticking places after a long time. For example, both the separation between the tail of Hane 405 and the head of BD 4218, and the separation between the tail of BD 1400 and the head of Hane 149, happen to be at the sticking places between the sheets.
冯国栋 秦龙泉. 李盛铎旧藏敦煌残卷《妙法莲华经》缀合研究[J]. 浙江大学学报(人文社会科学版), 0, (): 1-.
Feng Guodong Qin Longquan. Editing the Fragments of the Lotus Sutra from Li Shengduo's Dunhuang Collections. JOURNAL OF ZHEJIANG UNIVERSITY, 0, (): 1-.