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Workshop: Enacted Words of the Buddha: Buddhist Manuscripts as Mediums of Transcultural Interactions

Nov 03, 2018 - Nov 04, 2018 09:00 am to 05:00 pm
Organiser: Professorship Buddhist Studies

As physical instantiations of Buddhist ideas and practices dispersed in space and time, manuscripts provide us with a unique lens through which to gain a glimpse of transcultural aspects of Buddhism, one of the most important cultural sources that justify speaking of something called “Asia” at all. Unlike a mirror, which passively reflects the object it represents, Buddhist manuscripts, by means of their materiality, take active part in the vibrant interactions between faith communities from different cultural backgrounds. These interactions were the rule rather than the exception throughout the history of Buddhism and have more often than not left traces in manuscripts produced and circulated by Buddhists in various religious contexts.

This workshop brings together scholars working on Buddhist manuscripts written in a variety of Asian languages (i.e. Sanskrit, Tibetan, Tocharian, Khotanese, Uyghur, and Chinese) to discuss some issues of interest also for non-specialists: What do manuscripts have to teach us about diverse understandings of the same Buddhist idea(l) across cultural boundaries? How does the use of manuscripts change in different cultural spheres? What happens to manuscripts when they reach the end of their usefulness? And so on. It also creates a golden opportunity for interdisciplinary dialogues between philologists and scholars in neighboring fields, such as art history and visual anthropology. The dialogues may well shed new light on the multifarious interplay between textuality and materiality, a topic which has recently become a hotspot in many a subject area.

All interested persons are welcome to attend. No registration is obligatory.


Conference Program

Day I Saturday, November 3

9:00–9:30 Reception

9:30–9:45 Opening remarks by Prof. Dr. Michael Radich (HCTS-Professorship Buddhist Studies, Heidelberg University)

Panel 1: India and Nepal (Chair: Prof. Dr. Ute Hüsken [South Asia Institute, Heidelberg University])

9:45–10:15 Prof. Dr. Jens-Uwe Hartmann (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München): How to study Sammelhandschriften (“composite manuscripts”) of sūtras?
10:15–10:45 Dr. Vincent Tournier (École française d’Extrême-Orient, France): When no manuscripts remain: Epigraphic evidence for the circulation of Buddhist texts in the Deccan

Coffee break

11:15–11:45 Prof. Dr. Axel Michaels (Heidelberg University): Ritual handbooks in Newar Buddhist life-cycle rituals
11:45–12:15 Dr. Habata Hiromi (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München): Translating foreign letters: Transformation of the Indian alphabet in Central and East Asia

Lunch break

Panel 2: Tibet and Khotan (Chair: Prof. Dr. Franz-Karl Ehrhard [Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München])

14:15–14:45 Prof. Dr. Jonathan A. Silk (Leiden University, the Netherlands): The joint production of a manuscript at Dunhuang: The Larger Sukhāvatīvyūha in Tibetan
14:45–15:15 Dr. Li Can (Beijing University of Foreign Studies, China): A new research project on the Sanskrit, Tibetan, Chinese and Khotanese versions of the Śūraṃgamasamādhi-sūtra
15:15–15:45 Diego Loukota Sanclemente (University of California Los Angeles, USA): A library in fifth-century Khotan: Sources of Chapter VI of the Book of Zambasta

Coffee break

16:30–17:00 Prof. Dr. Cristina Scherrer-Schaub (École Pratique des Hautes Études, France; Université de Lausanne, Switzerland): Buddhist narrative as repository of textual sources, viz. manuscripts
17:00–17:30 Federico Dragoni (Leiden University, the Netherlands): Late Khotanese manuscripts from Dunhuang, with special reference to the manuscript tradition of the Aśokāvadāna

Day II Sunday, November 4

Panel 3: China and Japan (Chair: Prof. Dr. Enno Giele [Institute for Sinology, Heidelberg University])

10:00–10:30 Dr. Galambos Imre (University of Cambridge, UK): The codex in Dunhuang
10:30–11:00 Prof. Dr. Ochiai Toshinori (International College for Postgraduate Buddhist Studies, Japan): The discovery and provenance of the earliest manuscript of the Anle ji 安樂集 by the Pure Land patriarch Daochuo 道綽 (562–645)

Coffee break

11:45–12:15 Dr. Anna Andreeva (Heidelberg University): Buddhist manuscripts on childbirth and women’s health in medieval Japan

Lunch break

Panel 4: The Northern Silk Road (Chair: Dr. Chen Ruixuan [HCTS, Heidelberg University])

14:15–14:45 Dr. Hannes A. Fellner (Universität Wien/Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften): Down at the crossroads: The role of Tocharian in the Tarim interaction sphere
14:45–15:15 Pan Tao (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München): Looking inside the paper: A case study of Tocharian composite manuscripts
15:15–15:45 Dr. Kasai Yukiyo (ERC Project, BuddhistRoad, Ruhr-Universität Bochum): Old Uyghur Abhidharma texts in two different traditions

Coffee break

Wrap-up: Textual material culture and transculturality (Chair: Prof. Dr. Michael Radich [HCTS, Heidelberg University])

16:30–17:15 Roundtable discussion

A detailed list of panels is also available here:



Overview of the Panels

130 K

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