During the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, people in north China took advantage of a Mongol policy that gave Buddhist officials a status equivalent to what civil officials enjoyed, as a strategy for family advancement. Monk Zhang Zhiyu and his family provide a case study of an emerging influential Buddhist order based at Mount Wutai that connected the Yuan regime with local communities through the kinship ties of prominent monks. Within this Buddhist order, powerful monks like Zhiyu used their prestigious positions in the clerical world to help the upward social mobility of their lay families, displaying a distinctive pattern of interpenetration between Buddhism and family. This new pattern also fit the way that northern Chinese families used Buddhist structures such as Zunsheng Dhāranῑ pillars and private Buddhist chapels to record their genealogies and consolidate kinship ties.
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