Manichean Manuscripts in Xiapu and Their Significance

Document Type : Original Article


Dunhuang Research Academy.


Since October 2008, a large number of Manichaean documents have been discovered around Xiapu County in Fujian Province. These include the classic Mani the Buddha of Light (摩尼光佛) and various ritual texts such as Leshantang Divine Record (乐山堂神), Xingfu Ancestral Celebration Text (兴福祖庆诞科), Manichean Sect’s Initial Transmission Request to the Master (明门初传请本师), Volume of the Commentary and Record of Reports, Applications, and Official Documents (奏申牒疏科册), Volume of the Record of Seven-level Candle Lighting Rituals (点灯七层科册), as well as many other historical relics. It is clear from these discoveries that Manichaeism has been propagated in Xiapu for a millennium and has adapted to changing circumstances, moving away from its original canonical frameworks and towards a more practical and secular direction. The newly discovered Manichaean texts in Xiapu are not only rich in content but also comparable in importance to those discovered in Dunhuang, Turfan, and other places, making them a primary source for the study of Manichaean history in China after the Song and Yuan dynasties.