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2-Day Seminar on "Journeys in Time, Space, and Mind: Xuanzang’s Travels and Their Transformations" — Led by Max Deeg

Saturday April 6th 2024, 9:00AM - 5:00PM
Max Deeg

Max Deeg, "“In Occidente Lux” – Contextual Reading of Xuanzang's “Record of the Western Regions” (Datang Xiyu ji)"


It is probably not an exaggeration to say that no textual source about pre-modern India (and, one may add, Central Asia) has inspired – and sometimes misled – scholars’ research and other people’s imagination more than the Chinese traveler and translator Xuanzang’s 玄奘 “Record of the Western Regions of the Great Tang” (Datang Xiyu ji 大唐西域記). Together with the earlier Chinese Buddhist travelogue by Faxian 法顯, this source has served not only as an indispensable tool for the reconstruction of Indian Buddhism as a historical religion but also has led to the discovery of Buddhist archaeological remains on the subcontinent.

This seminar will attempt a critical and contextualizing reading of Xuanzang’s text. To make transparent the multi-facetted and -layered structure and content of the Records (intentionalities), the readings will focus on the following aspects:

  • History
  • Historical Geography
  • Archaeology
  • Politics
  • Didactic dimension
  • Ethnography
  • Buddhist legends
  • Buddhist institutions and teachings

Text passages will be read and translated together; they will first be interpreted text-immanently and then in a wider contextual framework by taking relevant other information / data.


Max Deeg is Professor in Buddhist Studies at Cardiff University. He received his PhD in Classical Indology and his Habilitation in Religious Studies from the University of Würzburg, Germany. He has published in the areas of the history of Buddhism, Early Christianity in China and the reception history of Asian religions. Deeg’s recent publications include Miscellanae Nepalicae: Early Chinese Reports on Nepal – The Foundation Legend of Nepal in its Trans-Himalayan Context (2016), “Indian law from a seventh century Chinese Buddhist perspective” (2019), “A Chinese ‘Hitopadeśa’ – Or: A Ruler’s Mirror: The Didactic Aspects of the Da Tang Xiyu ji” (2022).

This seminar is by invitation only due to limited space.

Statue of Xuanzang in the Xuanzang Memorial Hall

Statue of Xuanzang in the Xuanzang Memorial Hall, Nalanda, Bihar, photo by Max Deeg