Confucian education in a Buddhist environment: Medieval manuscripts and imprints of theMengqiu
Although most of the surviving collections of medieval manuscripts and imprints are of Buddhist nature, they normally include a smaller number of other types of material, such as primers and didactic texts used for educational purposes. The Mengqiu 蒙求, a primer attributed to Li Han 李瀚 (d. u.) of the Tang dynasty, is one of these. Following the Song period the text fell into disuse, but early copies survived in Japan where it remained in continuous use all the way through modern times. In addition, during the twentieth century several copies of the text were discovered in regions which were at the margins of Chinese civilization: among the texts excavated from the sealed off library cave near Dunhuang; the ruins of the forgotten Tangut city of Khara-khoto; and the Liao period wooden pagoda in Ying county (Shanxi province). All of these sites belonged to border regimes that at the time were not part of China proper, and thus the finds attest to the popularity of this text among the inhabitants of these states. This paper examines the handwritten and printed versions of the Mengqiu discovered at these sites in order to draw attention to the spread of Confucian education beyond the borders of the Chinese states, and to assess the role of Buddhist monasteries in secular education.