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Imre Galambos: "The Lost Books of China: A View from Khara-khoto"

Thursday May 4th 2017, 6:00 - 7:30PM
Event Sponsor
Humanities Center, Ho Center for Buddhist Studies at Stanford
Humanities Center, Levinthal Hall
part of a Chinese manuscript


In 1908 the Russian explorer P. K. Kozlov discovered amidst the sand-buried ruins of Khara-khoto (Heishuicheng, Inner Mongolia) an enormous quantity of manuscripts and printed books mainly written in Chinese and Tangut. The material recovered by the Russian expedition was immediately shipped to St. Petersburg but subsequent excavations brought to light additional fragments which are today held in Britain and China. The material is mainly Buddhist in content but there are also many other types of texts, including histories, military treatises, medical works, dictionaries and Confucian or Daoist classics. The Tangut part of the collection has played a major role in deciphering the script and language of the Tanguts who between 1038 and 1227 ruled part of northern China as the Western Xia dynasty. Especially interesting among the Tangut texts are the translations of Chinese works that have since been lost or are only known in much later versions. This talk presents several such examples and draws attention to the value these non-Chinese texts may have for the study of Chinese philology, religion and literature. 


Imre Galambos specializes in the study of Chinese and Tangut manuscripts from sites in northwestern China. He has received his PhD in 2002 from the University of California, Berkeley with a dissertation that later came out as a book with the title Orthography of Early Chinese Writing (2006). For the following 10 years he worked at the International Dunhuang Project at the British Library where his interest gradually shifted to the Dunhuang manuscripts. This research appeared as two books: Manuscripts and Travellers (2012) and Translating Chinese Tradition and Teaching Tangut Culture (2015). Since 2012 he has been teaching at the University of Cambridge.


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