Esoteric Buddhism at Dunhuang

Rites and Teachings for This Life and Beyond


Esoteric Buddhism in late first millennium Tibet and China is nowhere in evidence so clearly as in materials from Dunhuang. In the original contributions presented here, Robert Mayer and Cathy Cantwell examine the consecrations of the wrathful divinity Vajrakīlaya, while Sam van Schaik considers approaches to the vows of tantric adepts. Philosophical interpretations of Mahāyoga inform Kammie Takahashi’s study of the ‘Questions of Vajrasattva’. The background for later Tibetan tantric mortuary rites are examined in chapters by Yoshiro Imaeda and Matthew Kapstein. In the closing chapter, Katherine Tsiang investigates early printing in relation to esoteric dhāraṇīs, and their role as amulets accompanying the deceased. The collection is an important advance in our understanding of the historical development of Buddhist tantra.
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Biographical Note

Matthew T. Kapstein is director of Tibetan Religious Studies at the École Pratique des Hautes Études (Paris) and Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies at the University of Chicago. His recent books include The Tibetans (Oxford 2006) and an edited volume, Buddhism Between Tibet and China (Boston 2009).

Sam van Schaik is a Senior Researcher for the International Dunhuang Project at the British Library. Recent publications include the book Approaching the Great Perfection (Wisdom 2004) and Tibetan Tantric Manuscripts from Dunhuang (Brill 2006). His current project, sponsored by the Leverhulme Trust, concerns the palæography of manuscripts from Dunhuang.

Review Quotes

'This volume contains six essays on topics related to esoteric Buddhist texts and images from Dunhuang. All are
based upon close work with primary manuscript or artistic materials and represent the cutting edge of scholarship in
this area. It is highly recommended for those with an interest in esoteric Buddhism...'
Christian K. Wedemeyer, University of Chicago, Religious Studies Review, Religious Studies Review, 38,2


Scholars and students of Buddhist Studies, Tantra, Tibetan Studies, Sinology, Silk Road Studies

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