Baojuan Manuscripts in Modern Performance Traditions of Jiangsu: With “Telling Scriptures” of Changshu County as an Example (Rostislav Berezkin)

Abstract: Baojuan 寶卷 (precious scrolls) is a type of Chinese prosimetric literature (with alternation of prosaic and poetic passages) used for ritualized storytelling, mostly with religious subject matter. They appeared around the 13th-14th centuries as a type of Buddhist proselytizing literature, but during the Ming and Qing dynasties served as sacred books of various religious movements. At the end of the 19th-early 20th centuries recitation of baojuan became popular in the Jiangnan region, and at that time many texts were devoted to local deities as well as to secular subjects, such as stories borrowed from traditional drama and novels. Because of various historical circumstances, special culture of manuscripts developed around this storytelling practice. It still survives and is quite widespread in the areas around Suzhou.

Scroll recitation in the Suzhou area originally represented “scripted performance”, in which both woodblock printed texts and manuscripts were used. In this regard it resembles the ritual practices of Buddhist and Daoist priests, no wonder that in Changshu (originally a county under Suzhou prefecture) it is known as “scripture telling” (jiangjing 講經). “Scripture telling” is performed there by professional “masters of telling scriptures”, who are specially trained and charge believers for their performances. This article takes “scripture telling” in Changshu area as an example to discuss the special features of manuscript culture of local baojuan in contemporary period, such as traditional transmission of texts, interaction with printed materials, and innovations of individual modern performers.

现代江苏宝卷讲唱中的抄本:以常熟‘讲经’为例

摘要:宝卷是一种用于仪式化宣讲的中国说唱文学(采用散韵结合形式),大部分为宗教题材。这种体裁作为一种佛教传教文学出现在13至14世纪左右,后来又在明清时期的各种民间宗教宗派中被奉为圣书。19世纪末至20世纪初,宣唱宝卷在江南地区开始流行,当时,许多宝卷文本都是关于地方神灵以及世俗题材的,例如来自于传统戏曲和小说的故事。正是由于多种历史环境,一种特别的写本文化围绕着宣卷活动发展起来。这种文化存续至今,并在苏州地区仍然广泛流传。

苏州地区的“宣卷”最初表现为“脚本式表演”,宣讲兼用雕版印刷本和手抄本。在这方面,它们类似于僧道的仪式活动,难怪在常熟地区它们被称为“讲经”为人所熟知。在当地,“讲经”活动由专业的“讲经先生”从事,他们受过专门的训练,并且向信徒收取一定的讲唱费用。本期讲座以常熟地区的“讲经”为例,来探讨当代地方宝卷写本文化的特征,例如文本的传统性传播方式,写本与印刷材料的互动关系,以及现代个别表演者的创新工作等等。


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