The Wu-men kuan (J. Mumonkan)

Ishii Shudo, Albert Welter

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter examines the Wu-men kuan, one of the most widely read Zen texts in the canon. This text offers 48 kung-an or koan cases that have been significant in Zen practice since the late Sung. Ishii's essay seeks to trace the development of this text and its genre to the Tsung-men t'ung-yao chi and other earlier Zen sources. The essay seeks to understand why this text was favored so prominently in Japan, and how its structural features relate to the context of Sung dynasty Chan textual history.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Zen Canon
Subtitle of host publicationUnderstanding the Classic Texts
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199784615
ISBN (Print)9780195150674
StatePublished - Feb 1 2006


  • Koan
  • Kung-an
  • Mumonkan
  • Tsung-men t'ung-yao chi
  • Wu-men kuan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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