Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies


The quasi-genderless heresy: The Dhutaists and Master Jizhao

a1 School of Oriental and African Studies

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boretti v   [Google Scholar] 


This paper looks at the professional alternatives that Buddhism offered to women by analysing the important role played by a female master in the as yet little studied Dhuta movement, a form of ‘heretical’ Chan Buddhism that flourished during the final years of the Jin dynasty and afterwards in the Yuan dynasty. By examining the descriptions of female master Jizhao and male master Puguang, as seen in epitaphs composed by officers-literati and preserved in a Bejing gazetteer dating back to the mid-fourteenth century, this paper aims to highlight some features of the Dhutaists' discourse of femininity and also to point out the differences vis-à-vis orthodox Chan constructs, in order finally to evaluate whether such a discourse could have an influence on the general definitions and content of gender roles.


1 I wish to express my gratitude to Professor T.H. Barrett and to two anonymous reviewers for their valuable suggestions.

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