The Footprints of the Buddha

The Text and the Language


“The echo of the stone/ where I carved the [Buddha’s] honorable footprints/ reaches the Heaven, […]”.
This book presents the transcription, translation, and analysis of Chinese (753 AD) and Japanese inscriptions (end of the 8th century AD) found on two stones now in the possession of the Yakushiji temple in Nara. All these inscriptions praise the footprints of Buddha, and more exactly their carvings in the stone. The language of the Japanese inscription, which consists of twenty-one poems, reflects the contemporary dialect of Nara. Its writing system shows a quite unique trait, being practically monophonic. The book is richly illustrated by photos of the temple and of the inscriptions.

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Alexander Vovin, Ph.D. (1987), Saint Petersburg State University, is currently Directeur d'études at EHESS/CRLAO, Paris. He has published extensively on East and Inner Asia historical linguistics and philology. Among his major, most recent works are A Descriptive and Comparative Grammar of Western Old Japanese, vol. 1-2 (Global Oriental 2005, 2009, second edition Brill 2020), and a multivolume edition and translation of the Man’yōshū, the first and the largest Japanese poetical anthology (Global Oriental/Brill, 2009–).
List of Charts and Illustrations

 1 Hōssō Sect of the Japanese Buddhism
 2 Bussokuseki and Bussoku seki-no uta
 3 Inscriptions on the Footprints Stone
 4 Stele Inscription
 5 Previous Research
 6 Poetic Form

1 Translation of Chinese Inscriptions and Commentary

2 Translation, Glossing, and Morphemic Analysis of Old Japanese Poems
A Commentary to the Old Japanese Poems

3 The Description of the Language of the Poems
 1 Graphemics and Phonology
 2 Grammar
 3 Vocabulary
 4 List of Grammatical Morphemes

Appendix: Photographs of the Inscriptions
All interested in Ancient Japan, in particular the Nara period (710-784 AD), its language, literature, religion (especially Buddhism), art, and culture.
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