Abhidharma vibhasa Sastra (Explanatory of the Abhidharma), the First Tripitaka Koreana Edition Volumes 11 and 17

UnknownGoryeo Dynasty, 12th century

Horim Museum

Horim Museum
Seoul, South Korea

This treatise Abidambibasaron (skt.Adhidharma-vibhāṣa-śāstra) is a central text of the KaśmīraSarvāstivāda sect of Hinayana Buddhism, meaning “Treatise(śāstra) on the Commentary on the Abhidharma.” Written by Katyāyāniputra (迦旃延子), this treatise takes the form of commentaries on the Jñānaprasthāna(阿毘達磨發智論), an analysis of Buddhist doctrine. Using the text of the Jñānaprasthānaas a reference, the Adhidharma-vibhāṣa-śāstrapresents and argues against the doctrinal theories advanced by various other schools in favor of the Sarvâstivādan interpretation.This works, translated by Buddhavarman (浮陀跋摩), Daotai (道泰) et al. in 437-439 C.E., is sometimes regarded as being less complete and faithful than the Tang Dynasty monk Xuanzang’s later translation, the Abhidharma-mahā-vibhāṣa-śāstra (阿毘達磨大毘婆沙論). Nevertheless, this work still remains of great value as an early translation of the earlySarvâstivādaAbhidharma corpus, and an encyclopedia on early Buddhism in general. Although originally comprised of 100 fascicles, the latter section was lost during political upheavals soon after its translation, leaving only the first 60 fascicles behind.Fascicles 11 and 17, in relatively good condition, are of the first edition of the Tripitaka Koreana. They appear to date from the twelfth century C.E., a century after the carving of the Tripitaka’s woodblocks. The woodblocks and prints of the first edition Tripitaka Koreana, or the first Buddhist canon as established in Korea, was commissioned in the reign of the Goryeo Dynasty’s King Hyeonjong (1011-1031 C.E.), in order to invoke the power of the Buddha in repelling Mongolian Khitan invaders. Its original woodblocks have since been lost, but scattered prints such as these remain. It is significant as an example of technological shift from manuscripts to printing that spread rapidly across East Asia between the tenth and eleventh centuries. The second edition of the Tripitaka Koreana isbetter known as “Palmandaejanggyeong.” Its woodblocks were made a century later due to the first edition’s loss and the entire woodblocks are still extant.In both fascicles, the Chinese character used for pagination is Jang (丈) rather than the jang (張) found in the second edition of the Tripitaka Koreana. There are several variant characters written to avoid mention of royalty, identifying it as being from the Song Dynasty Tripitaka lineage. Missing strokes are found in the posthumous title of Emperor Taizu’s grandfather Jing (敬), as well as the homophone jing (竟). The first edition of the Tripitaka Koreana was made up of Song, Khitan, and Korean recensions. Although the format of the Song Dynasty Tripitaka was retained, the Koreans composed fresh master manuscripts for carving rather than directly tracing the Song prints, demonstrating their independent mastery of this new printing technology.


  • Title: Abhidharma vibhasa Sastra (Explanatory of the Abhidharma), the First Tripitaka Koreana Edition Volumes 11 and 17
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date: Goryeo Dynasty, 12th century
  • Physical Dimensions: w1,753 x d29 cm
  • Provenance: Horim Museum
  • Type: Book

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more

Flash this QR Code to get the app
Google apps