Open Access

The ERC funded project Dynamics in Buddhist Network in Eastern Central Asia 6th to 14th Centuries (short: BuddhistRoad) aims to create a new framework to enable understanding of the complexities in the dynamics of cultural encounter and religious transfer in premodern Eastern Central Asia—the vast area extending from the Taklamakan Desert to North-east China. This region was the crossroads of ancient civilisations. Its uniqueness was determined by the complex dynamics of religious and cultural exchanges gravitating around an ancient communication artery known as the Silk Road. Buddhism was one major factor in this exchange; its transfer predetermined the transfer of adjacent aspects of culture, and, as such, the religious exchanges involved a variety of cultures and civilisations. These, in turn, were modified and shaped by their adoption of Buddhism. In many cases the spread of Buddhism overrode ethnic and linguistic boundaries in Eastern Central Asia creating a civilisational whole, which, despite its diversity, shared a set of common ideas originating from Buddhism. One specific aspect of this process in Eastern Central Asia was the rise of local forms of Buddhism. This project intends to investigate such Buddhist localisations and developments that took place between the 6th and the 14th centuries. At the core of the BuddhistRoad investigation are the areas of Khotan, Kucha, Turfan, Dunhuang, Ganzhou, as well as the territories of the Tangut and Khitan empires. The analysis will revolve around thematic clusters pertaining to doctrines, rituals and practices, the impact of non-Buddhist influences, patronage and legitimation strategies, sacred spaces and pilgrimages, and visual and material transfers.

The PI of the project, Carmen Meinert, and the project coordinator, Henrik H. Sørensen, are pleased that the editors-in-chief of the book series Dynamics in the History of Religions, Volkhard Krech and Licia Di Giacinto (both at ­CERES, Ruhr-Universität Bochum), kindly accepted to publish the following expected outcomes of the BuddhistRoad project in the series:

Three conference proceedings,

Buddhism in Central Asia I: Patronage, Legitimation, Sacred Space, and Pilgrimage, edited by Carmen Meinert and Henrik H. Sørensen, 2020.

Buddhism in Central Asia II: Practice and Rituals, Visual and Material Transfer, edited by Yukiyo Kasai and Haoran Hou, forthcoming.

Buddhism in Central Asia III: Doctrine, Exchanges with Non-Buddhist Traditions, forthcoming.

Two volumes co-authored by all BuddhistRoad team members and a monograph by Carmen Meinert on the History of Central Asian Buddhism.

Carmen Meinert

Henrik H. Sørensen

  • Collapse
  • Expand