Sutra of the Lotus of the Wonderful Law (Saddharmapundarika-sutra), 7 juan, Manuscript from Dunhuang

Tang dynasty (618907), Zhengsheng period (695), dated 695

Translated from the Sanskrit by Kumarajiva (344413)

From the Mogao Caves, Dunhuang, Gansu Province

Handscroll containing juan 5 (pin 1417), ink on 23 joined sheets of yellow paper with ruled columns in ink; 24.6 x 986.6 cm; height of first sheet: 19.6 cm

Inventory number: Xin 029

This scroll is one of more than 20,000 religious and secular manuscripts on paper dated between 406 and 996 c.e. that were recovered in 1900 from a sealed library among the Mogao Caves at Dunhuang.

The Saddharmapundarika-sutra, commonly known as the Lotus Sutra, is a profound Buddhist scripture comprising 28 chapters (pin) in seven volumes (juan) with more than 60,000 characters. The 23 joined sheets of Tang-dynasty yellow paper on which this fifth juan of the Lotus Sutra is inscribed have a closely woven fiber texture that has stood the test of time remarkably well. Featured in this copy of the sutra are certain distinctive characters that had been created during the reign of Empress Wu (624705; r. 690705). This scroll contains chapter 14, "Peaceful Practices"; chapter 15, "Emerging from the Earth"; chapter 16, "The Life Span of the Thus Come One"; and chapter 17, "Distinctions in Benefits."