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"Text is Territory: Imagining, Crafting, and Transforming Time and Space in Buddhist China"

Ho Center for Buddhist Studies Graduate Student Workshop


April 20, 2017 - 2:30pm to 5:30pm

Wendi Adamek (University of Calgary)

"Stone Inscriptions from the Nirvāṇa-sūtra at Baoshan and Shanyingshan"


On a rock-face near Dazhusheng 大住聖 cave at Baoshan 寶山 (Henan), we find an undated inscription consisting of variations on the Brāhmana Jātaka verses from the Nirvāṇa-sūtra. The middle or central cave of Shanyingshan 善應山 (Henan) also includes Brāhmana Jātaka verses and images, as well as a passage on contemplation of the body from the Nirvāṇa-sūtra. I draw on these inscriptions and images to discuss presentations of practice as different forms of inversion of ordinary experience.


Wendi L. Adamek is Associate Professor in the Department of Classics and Religion at the University of Calgary and holder of the Numata Chair in Buddhist Studies. Her research interests include medieval Chinese Buddhism and Daoism, Buddhist art, comparative philosophy, and environmental literature. Her forthcoming book Practicescape: The Buddhists of Baoshan centers on a seventh-century community in Henan, China. Previous publications include The Mystique of Transmission (AAR Award for Excellence in Textual Studies, 2008) and The Teachings of Master Wuzhu (2011). Born in Hawai’i, she earned her degrees at Stanford University and was won research fellowships at Kyoto University (Fulbright) and Peking University (NEH, Fulbright), the Stanford Humanities Center, and the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton.


Marcus Bingenheimer (Temple University)

"Going on Pilgrimage in 19th Century China - The itinerary network in the Canxue zhijin 參學知津"


In the early 19th century Ruhai Xiancheng 如海顯承 (fl. 1800-1826) wrote a route book describing itineraries to China's most popular pilgrimage sites for the use of his fellow monks: "Knowing the Paths of Pilgrimage"  (Canxue zhijin 參學知津). The book is a rare source for the travel routes of Buddhists in late imperial times as it describes, station by station, 56 pilgrimage itineraries all over China, many converging on famous mountains, temples, or urban centers.
Its prefaces and essays complement this practical information by explaining why and how 19th century monks went on pilgrimage. Although the text was published without maps, the main stations for each route have now been geo-referenced, so that maps of the pilgrimage network can be produced.
Another, much better known, source for pilgrimage in the late Qing is "Records of Travels to Famous mountains" (Mingshan youfang ji 名山遊訪記) by Gao Henian 高鶴年 (1872-1962). It describes a similar number of routes (53), but contains more detailed information about the interactions of Gao with his monastic friends and preceptors. Comparing the itineraries of the two texts shows that while the destinations of Buddhist pilgrims did not differ all that much between the early 19th and the early 20th centuries, some single routes changed considerably with the arrival of new modes of transport.


Marcus Bingenheimer was born in Germany. He obtained an MA (Sinology) and Dr.phil (History of Religions) from Würzburg University and an MA (Communication Studies) from Nagoya University. Marcus currently works as Assistant Professor in the Department of Religion at Temple University, Philadelphia. From 2005 to 2011 he taught Buddhism and Digital Humanities in Taiwan, where he also supervised various projects concerning the digitization of Buddhist culture.

His main research interests are the history of Buddhism in East Asia and early Buddhist sutra literature. Currently, he is working on Ming-Qing Chinese Buddhism with an emphasis on pilgrimage culture. Besides that Marcus is interested in the Digital Humanities and how to do research in the age of digital information.


Stuart Young (Bucknell University)

"India in the Chinese Buddhist Imagination"


Buddhist cultures across Asia have always idealized Buddhist India. Often viewed as the land where Buddhism began, and yearned for as the fount of Truth, India has carried in the imaginations of Asian Buddhists the mystique of pure and hallowed origins. In this talk I discuss how Indian Buddhism was similarly represented in medieval China. In particular, I examine medieval Chinese hagiographies of the ancient Indian Buddhist patriarchs, which show how Chinese Buddhists constructed paradigms of Buddhist sainthood for a world without a Buddha. Chinese Buddhists sought to advance specific models of practice as the most effective means of achieving liberation, and they did so through narratives illustrating the trials and triumphs of their greatest Indian forebears. These narratives showed how the Indian patriarchs had saved the world by perfecting specific repertoires of practice, thus demonstrating how Buddhist sainthood could be achieved across the Sino-Indian divide.


Stuart Young (Ph.D., Princeton University) is Associate Professor of East Asian religions in the Religious Studies Department of Bucknell University. His first book, Conceiving the Indian Buddhist Patriarchs in China (Kuroda Institute Studies in East Asian Buddhism, University of Hawai‘i Press, 2015), examines how medieval Chinese representations of ancient Indian Buddhism both reflected and influenced Chinese attempts to propagate Buddhism locally. He currently holds a Research Fellowship from the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies and American Council of Learned Societies for work on his second book project, tentatively titled The Fabric of Monasticism: Buddhism and Silk Culture in Premodern China. This book will be the first in-depth study of how Chinese Buddhism shaped and was shaped by the ubiquitous Chinese silk industry.