Chapter 5 The Circulation of Texts between Dunhuang and Other Regions as Viewed from the Dunhuang Manuscripts

In: Beyond the Silk and Book Roads
Authors:
Chunwen Hao
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Shaowei Wu
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Abstract

As the meeting place between east and west, Dunhuang not only was a hub for finance and trade but also lay at the intersection between Chinese and foreign cultural exchange. The manuscripts from the Dunhuang library cave contain books and scrolls that were left behind by non-locals who came from east to west. There are also manuscripts that were brought back by Dunhuang natives who traveled between the east and west. These “non-local texts” are the bearers of cultural exchange between Dunhuang and other regions; a number of them are the result of the convergence of Chinese culture and outlying civilizations. As such, they also provide historical testimony of the integration of eastern and western cultures in Dunhuang and their influence upon the population of Dunhuang. In the past, scholars have mostly examined Dunhuang during certain historical periods or textual exchanges with certain regions, paying close attention to contacts between Dunhuang and Chang’an, Sichuan, Tibet, and so forth. However, few have entirely counted or grasped the non-local texts from the Dunhuang manuscript corpus. To address this lacuna, this essay attempts to systematically collect and categorize these texts, analyze their distribution as well as evolution across time and space, and simultaneously try to investigate their contents and manner of introduction to Dunhuang. Doing so will hopefully help us to understand the relationship between this group of manuscripts and Dunhuang from a holistic perspective.

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Beyond the Silk and Book Roads

Rethinking Networks of Exchange and Material Culture

Series:  Studies on East Asian Religions, Volume: 11