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Buddhism in Central Asia I

Patronage, Legitimation, Sacred Space, and Pilgrimage

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Edited by Carmen Meinert and Henrik Sørensen

The ERC-funded research project BuddhistRoad aims to create a new framework to enable understanding of the complexities in the dynamics of cultural encounter and religious transfer in pre-modern Eastern Central Asia. Buddhism was one major factor in this exchange: for the first time the multi-layered relationships between the trans-regional Buddhist traditions (Chinese, Indian, Tibetan) and those based on local Buddhist cultures (Khotanese, Uyghur, Tangut, Khitan) will be explored in a systematic way. The first volume Buddhism in Central Asia (Part I): Patronage, Legitimation, Sacred Space, and Pilgrimage is based on the start-up conference held on May 23rd–25th, 2018, at CERES, Ruhr-Universität Bochum (Germany) and focuses on the first two of altogether six thematic topics to be dealt with in the project, namely on “patronage and legitimation strategy” as well as “sacred space and pilgrimage.”

Japan on the Silk Road

Encounters and Perspectives of Politics and Culture in Eurasia

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Edited by Selçuk Esenbel

Japan on the Silk Road provides for the first time the historical background indispensable for understanding Japan's current perspectives and policies in the vast area of Eurasia across the Middle East and Central Asia. Japanese diplomats, military officers, archaeologists, and linguists traversed the Silk Road, involving Japan in the Great Game and exploring ancient civilizations.The book exposes the entanglements of pre-war Japanese Pan-Asianism with Pan-Islamism, Turkic nationalism and Mongolian independence as a global history of imperialism. Japanese connections to Ottoman Turkey, India, Egypt, Iran, Afghanistan, and China at the same time reveal a discrete global narrative of cosmopolitanism
and transnationality. The global team of scholars brings to light Japan’s intellectual and political encounters with the peoples and cultures of Asia, in particular Turks and Persians, Hindus and Muslims of India, Mongolians and the Uyghur of Inner Asia, and Muslims in China.
Contributors include: Ian Nish, Christopher Szpilman, Sven Saaler, Selcuk Esenbel, Li Narangoa, Komatsu Hisao, Brij Tankha, Erdal Küçükyalcın, A. Merthan Dündar, Katayama Akio, Miyuki Aoki Girardelli, Klaus Röhborn, Mehmet Ölmez, Banu Kaygusuz, Oğuz Baykara, and Satō Masako.

Maṇḍalas in the Making

The Visual Culture of Esoteric Buddhism at Dunhuang

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Michelle C. Wang

The first scholarly monograph on Buddhist maṇḍalas in China, this book examines the Maṇḍala of Eight Great Bodhisattvas. This iconographic template, in which a central Buddha is flanked by eight attendants, flourished during the Tibetan (786–848) and post-Tibetan Guiyijun (848–1036) periods at Dunhuang. A rare motif that appears in only four cave shrines at the Mogao and Yulin sites, the maṇḍala bore associations with political authority and received patronage from local rulers. Attending to the historical and cultural contexts surrounding this iconography, this book demonstrates that transcultural communication over the Silk Routes during this period, and the religious dialogue between the Chinese and Tibetan communities, were defining characteristics of the visual language of Buddhist maṇḍalas at Dunhuang.

Kailas Histories

Renunciate Traditions and the Construction of Himalayan Sacred Geography

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Alex McKay

Tibet’s Mount Kailas is one of the world’s great pilgrimage centres, renowned as an ancient sacred site that embodies a universal sacrality. But Kailas Histories: Renunciate Traditions and the Construction of Himalayan Sacred Geography demonstrates that this understanding is a recent construction by British colonial, Hindu modernist, and New Age interests. Using multiple sources, including fieldwork, Alex McKay describes how the early Indic vision of a heavenly mountain named Kailas became identified with actual mountains. He emphasises renunciate agency in demonstrating how local beliefs were subsumed as Kailas developed within Hindu, Buddhist, and Bön traditions, how five mountains in the Indian Himalayan are also named Kailas, and how Kailas sacred geography constructions and a sacred Ganges source region were related.

Nomads on Pilgrimage

Mongols on Wutaishan (China), 1800-1940

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Isabelle Charleux

Nomads on Pilgrimage: Mongols on Wutaishan (China), 1800-1940 is a social history of the Mongols’ pilgrimages to Wutaishan in late imperial and Republican times. In this period of economic crisis and rise of nationalism and anticlericalism in Mongolia and China, this great Buddhist mountain of China became a unique place of intercultural exchanges, mutual borrowings, and competition between different ethnic groups. Based on a variety of written and visual sources, including a rich corpus of more than 340 Mongolian stone inscriptions, it documents why and how Wutaishan became one of the holiest sites for Mongols, who eventually reshaped its physical and spiritual landscape by their rites and strategies of appropriation.