This article purports to present a synopsis of the Shōsōin, the treasures of the Shōsōin, and the fascicles of the scriptures in Shogozō in Shōsōin, explaining why the texts of Shōsōin, especially the fascicles of the scriptures in Shogozō are important resources for the study of ancient Buddhism.
Shōsōin is not just a treasury of art pieces, storing many treasures with strong Buddhist characteristics and in relation with the Korean Peninsula.
Therefore, for the restitution of the Buddhist space in the ancient Korean Peninsula, it is very helpful.
The texts of the Shōsōin are valuable in that they suggest the actualities of copying scriptures in the ancient period. They are a great collection of texts made according to the process of copying scriptures under various projects of copying scriptures in the Nara period, clarifying the concrete aspects of the process of copying scriptures in that period.
In addition, among the Buddhist resources at the Shōsōin office, there are the fascicles of the scriptures in Shogozō, which is distinguished from the general treasures of the Shōsōin. The scriptures of the Shogozō have been originally stored at the Sonshōin on top of the stupas in the Tōdaiji, mainly consisting of the Hakusaikyō (Buddhist scriptures carried by ships) from the Sui and Dang periods and the two major authorized versions of Buddhist scriptures in the Nara period, that are the Tempyō 12th year and the Shingokeiun 2nd year authorized scriptures, including about 5,000 fascicles of ancient manuscripts and printed scriptures. Although the Taishō Daizōkyō is used most generally for Buddhist textual studies, since it is based upon the Korean version of 12th-13th century, it is said to be unsatisfying for the purpose of tracing ancient Buddhist texts. For its correction, the fascicles of the scriptures in Shogozō are evaluated to be extremely important in that they include many ancient manuscripts.
Besides, there are many extant Hakusho texts in them, which are unusually valuable for the study of the ancient Japanese linguistics.
The fascicles of the scriptures in Shogozō, especially the Tempyō 12th year and Shōsōin manuscripts, are mutually in the relation of the actual extant manuscripts made in the Nara period and the texts for their production. Therefore, by the comparison of both, the process of their production and the efforts for the enhancement of their textual quality can be clarified, besides the fact that there may be a few cases where the characteristics of some texts and scriptures might be clarified by mutual comparison.
Among the scriptures, there are some texts that might be from Silla dynasty. the fascicles of the Avatamsaka sutra from 72nd to 80th volumes, are suggested to be from Silla dynasty in their style of copying, while there are some opinions regarding the Brahmajāla Sutta in the treasury of the Shōsōin as sent to the Daibutzu of the Tōdaiji from Silla dynasty at the Tempyō 4th year.
In short, the Shōsōin texts and the fascicles of the scriptures of the Shogozō are valuable for the study of ancient Silla Buddhism, while the Shōsōin texts are printed, made into photos, and catalogued, besides the digitalization of the fascicles of the scriptures of the Shogozō. There might be fruitful researches utilizing these resources.