2018 Cluster Visits

Cluster 1.1 From Oral to Digital

Cluster Leaders: Yinggang Sun, Jinhua Chen

Site(s): Jinci Temple晋祠 in Shanxi province: With a Focus on the Stone Scripture of the 80-fascicle Huayan jing 八十卷本華嚴經

Dates: July 20-25, 2018

Language of Instruction: Reading knowledge of classical Chinse is necessary. Some English instruction will be provided. Otherwise, all instruction will be in Chinese.

Summary:  The stone scriptures at Yunju monastery 雲居寺 (or Fangshan 房山石經) are justifiably famous, and well-studied, particularly by scholars in China. Most scholars are far less aware of the stone scriptures of the 80 fascicle Huayan jing carved in 699 at the Jinci. Not only are these scriptures material evidence of the tremendous role the sole female emperor of China, Wu Zetian 武則天 (r. 690-705), played in supporting Buddhism, but they also speak to the special place of the new translation of the Avataṃsaka Sūtra by Śikṣānanda 実叉難陀 (652-710). This cluster workshop will investigate the Huayan jing at Jinci from the perspective of the adoption of new media: the transition from manuscripts to early printing. When print took hold amid a strong and enduring culture of manuscripts, this is not unlike our current adoption of blogs, WeChat, and other social media outlets, which are replacing online platforms and newspapers. To address this comparative media approach, the group will study the Jinci Huayan jing stone scriptures alongside digital copies of manuscripts and later printed editions of the Huayan jing to examine the role of authority in establishing and disseminating knowledge through various media. Philological matters concerning different recensions of the text will also be addressed.

Sites of fieldwork for this cluster include various locations important for the production of East Asian religious sources of different media, including Beilin Museum碑林博物館, religious epitaphs around the Wutai area, and religious materials on different media stored at the Jinci Temple 晋祠  in Taiyuan. But the principal focus will be on the 80-fascicle Huayan jing carved on the stone pillars preserved at Jinci. Participants will work closely with scholars, museum curators, and field visit supervisors.

This cluster project examines ways in which we still need to investigate early examples of the transition from manuscript to print and the development of a range of technologies and reading techniques in premodern Asia may inform our understanding of the current global transition from print to digital media. We will focus on transformations in the culture of writing and reading in East Asia as a “distant mirror” (in the words of the European medievalist Barbara Tuchman) to reflect on current developments in the digital humanities and our changing relationships to texts.

Jinci Temple晋祠 is an essential site where we can address the transition from manuscript to print culture at a special moment and place in medieval China.

Student participants will be trained to take photos of the stone epitaphs, to prepare rubbings of the stone texts, to read the stone inscriptions using different methodologies, and to compare epigraphic sources with relevant sources presented through other media, especially in manuscript and print.  Physical details will be registered of the stones documented, ideally with an eye to their original placement at the site.

Costs for participants are expected to be around $550 CAD (in addition to airfare).

Cluster 1.2 Religion and Technology

Cluster Leader: Marcus Bingenheimer

Time: Aug.1-8, 2018 (arr. July 31, dep. Aug. 9th)

Place: National University of Singapore, Department of Chinese Studies, Wan Boo Sow Research Centre for Chinese Culture

Introduction to Social Network Analysis for the Study of Buddhism and East Asian Religions

As part of the project “From The Ground Up: Buddhism & East Asian Religions” (http://frogbear.org/) under the leadership of Jinhua Chen, and in collaboration with the Chung-hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies and the National University of Singapore I welcome applications for a workshop on historical social network analysis in East Asian Religion.

Social Network Analysis (SNA) is a method that is widely used in the social sciences, but that so far has had relatively little impact in the Humanities. Nevertheless, SNA has great potential for the study of religion both in history and the contemporary period. Its use allows us to discover new patterns in the way actors associate and interact. Innovative perspectives that bring to light unexpected structures can confirm or contradict our intuition of what was afoot in a given network. In the study of Asian Religion we now start to see the kinds of datasets emerging that allow the application of SNA. This workshop is an introduction to the methodology of SNA, current SNA datasets for the study of Asian Religion, and the software tools to work with them. The bilingual workshop (English-Chinese) is aimed at scholars of East Asian Religions, faculty and graduate students. There are no prerequisites beyond fluency in English and Chinese, but participants will have to bring their own computers and know how to use them.

After the workshop participants will be able to (1) understand basic SNA measurements and metrics, (2) use Gephi for the visualization of social networks, and (3) know how to use and access existing SNA datasets for the study of East Asian religion and history.

The workshop is free of charge. The Wan Boo Sow Research Centre for Chinese Culture at NUS will provide free housing (double rooms) for graduate students. Faculty participants are asked to make their own arrangements.

This workshop can allow only a limited number of participants, and attendees are expected to stay for the duration of the whole course.

Cluster 2.1 Authenticity and Authority

Cluster Leader: Jinhua Jia

Site: Dongzhen Temple 東鎮廟 in Weifang City 濰坊市, Shandong Province, China

Dates: May 18-23, 2018

Language of Instruction: English and Chinese

Summary:

After the first field visit in 2017, the cluster has decided to focus its field visits on traditional state sacrifice to major sacred mountains and waters, which was systematized as Wuyue五嶽 (Five Marchmounts), Wuzhen 五鎮 (Five Stronholds), Sihai 四海 (Four Seas), and Sidu四瀆 (Four Waterways). In 2018, we will investigate the religious site of Dongzhen Temple (Temple of Eastern Stronghold) in Weifang City of Shandong. The temple was first built in the Song dynasty and preserves about 100 steles from the Yuan-Ming-Qing period. This is one of the two only remaining temples of the traditional state sacrifice to the mountains of Five Strongholds. We will also visit Mount Yi 沂山 (Mount Dongzhen or Eastern Stronghold) and other nearby religious sites, as local people still worship the spirit of the mountain today.

Like the cluster’s first field visit in 2017, the 2018 field visit seeks to respond the question of how have concerns with identifying “major religious traditions” and “genuine” authors affected perceptions of authority and canonicity and to provide a unique opportunity to address when, where, and who has defined authoritative and authentic religions in China.

The visit comprises three steps. The first step is a half-day workshop, in which experienced and local experts will introduce the religious-historical context and current condition of the site, as well as the method and purpose of the visit. The second step is to visit Dongzhen Temple, Mount Yi, and other nearby religious sites. Investigations of the visits include the architectural styles of the sites, the legacy of state sacrifices to the mountain, stele inscriptions on sites, and current local religious beliefs and activities related to the temple. The third step is an initial processing of the collected data.

The general schedule is to do field visit in the morning, and to input the collected data in the afternoon.

Costs are estimated at 250 RMB/day for lodging and meals. Group transportation will be provided during the visit.

Cluster 2.2 “Secondary” Producers, “Primary” Roles

Cluster Leader: George Keyworth

Site(s): Haeinsa 海印寺, Tongdosa 通度寺, Pulguksa 佛國寺 (and Sŏkkuram 石窟庵), Hwaŏmsa 華嚴寺, and Songgwangsa 松廣寺. Archival or museum field work: National Museum of Korea, Dongguk University Central Library, and Horim Museum.

Dates: July 11-21, 2018

Languages of Instruction: English-language instruction with guest lectures / presentations in Korean, with English translation.

Summary:

Cluster 2.2 will accomplish two separate but related research goals in Korea in July 2018. First, we will continue to address two research questions for cluster 2.2: what roles did editors, scribes, translators, and readers play in canon-making of Buddhist literature in Chinese, and how did non-religious factors shape this process? We will, therefore, identify, catalog, and examine where “secondary” production took place and which individuals, groups, or institutions played prominent roles in re-shaping the canon(s). Researchers and students will take field trips to several Buddhist monasteries in South Korea—Haeinsa 海印寺, Tongdosa 通度寺, and Pulguksa 佛國寺—that have played seminal roles in propagating the printed Buddhist canon(s) in classical Chinese in East Asia (1st and 2nd Korean canons, a.k.a. “Tripiṭaka Koreana” 高麗大藏經, ca. 10th-14th centuries). Yet Koreans continued to produce manuscript editions of religious literature and privately printed documents, which have received very little attention outside Korea. Working with Korean colleagues especially at Dongguk University, we will also visit several museums and archives (National Museum of Korea, Dongguk University Central Library, and Leeum Museum) with precious, but severely understudied, examples of manuscripts and extra- or non-canonical printed works to investigate the role(s) Koreans played in producing and reproducing texts that circulated on the continent and in Japan. Special consideration will be given to the first printed Korean canon and extant copies from Korean canons in Japan (e.g., the Kitano Tenmangū shrine 北野天満宮 in Kyoto).

The second research goal will address aspects of clusters 2.5 and 1.1 to investigate the preservation of the 60- and 80-roll translations of the Buddhāvataṃsaka-sūtra 華嚴經 (Kor. Hwaŏmgyŏng, T nos. 278-279). Cluster 1.1 is inspecting the 80-roll translation by Śikṣānanda carved in stone in 699 at Jinci 晉祠 in China. We will investigate the rock-cut Hwaŏmgyŏng at Hwaŏmsa 華嚴寺, which legend holds date back to the founding of the monastery by Ŭisang 義湘 (625-702) in 677 (probably 725). The stones were traditionally stored in the Kakhwangjŏn 國皇殿, but they were severely damaged during the invasions by Toyotomi Hideyoshi 秀吉豊臣 (1592-1598). There is a transformation tableau of Śikṣānanda’s 80-roll Hwaŏmgyŏng at Songgwangsa 松廣寺, which shows how this seminal translation influenced Buddhists in Korea. Comparative analysis of these editions with manuscript editions from the Shōsōin 正倉院 in Japan demonstrates that alternative editions of the Buddhāvataṃsaka-sūtra may have been used in Korea and Japan, and shows that considerable attention needs to be given to the preservation and continued use of scriptures outside China. A conference in China with cluster 1.1 will present some of this new research.

Costs for participants are expected to be around $2000 CAD (in addition to airfare).

Cluster 3.2 Historical Reality through the Reflections between Image and Text: Northern Dynasties Buddhism and Beyond

Cluster Leader: Kai Sheng

Site(s): Ye Cheng(邺城),Xiangtangshan(响堂山), Xiaonanhai(小南海),Hebei province, China

Dates: July 16-19, 2018; symposium July 20-21, 2018

Languages of Instruction: Chinese and English

Summary:

We will explore extant cave sites in Hebei and Henan provinces, where stone scriptures were carved in premodern Chinese history. We will focus on stone Buddhist sūtras, images, and inscriptions from the Northern Dynasties period (ca. 386-534) at Xiangtangshan 響堂山, Xiao Nanhai 小南海, and Xiangquan monastery 香泉寺 in the Yecheng 鄴城 area. The workshop will compare stone scriptures and other epigraphical evidence with Dunhuang documents from the Northern Dynasties that have recently received special attention within and outside China. Participants in this cluster will, therefore, engage in comparative research looking at manuscript and inscriptions of early Buddhist literature in northern China. Some significant manuscripts and epitaphs will be documented and subjected to scrutiny, both on site and after the field visits.

This composite research project carefully examines Buddhist history, thought, faith, institutions, state support, and social activities during the Northern Dynasties period. The primary focus of our research concerns material evidence of the Dilun 地論 (Shidi jinglun 十地經論, T no. 1522, 6th century translation of the Daśabhūmi-vyākhyāna-śāstra) during the Northern Dynasties period. Collated Dilun documents from many sources and media show complicated and nuanced relationships between documents and images, as well as how to creatively reconstruct certain important aspects of East Asian religious history through cross-referencing and collating across sources.

Costs for participants are expected to be around $400 CAD (in addition to airfare).

Cluster 3.3 “Texts in Statues”

Cluster Leader: James Robson

Site(s): Japan

Dates:  June 21-24, 2018 (visit June 21, 22; symposium June 23, 24)

Language of Instruction: Japanese proficiency is required. There will be no translation assistance due to budgetary constraints.

Summary:

The main goals of the “Texts in Statues” cluster are to identify, catalogue, and study all statues from China, Korea, and Japan with manuscripts and texts that have been interred inside of them.  Included in the scope of this project will be statues in situ in Asia as well as those in museums in Asia or abroad.  As part of the foundational preparatory work for this project researchers in each area will be charged with compiling an annotated bibliography of: 1.)  Primary sources (canonical and extra-canonical) that describe the interment of material inside of statues; 2.) Academic studies of known statues containing manuscripts and texts; and 3.) Mentions of the interment of texts in other historical or literary sources. The goal of this phase of the project is not necessarily to produce a bibliography, but rather use that material to identify key locations that we know have statues with interred materials.  Fieldwork in China, Korea and Japan will then be aimed at identifying published, unpublished, and/or unattested statues with materials inside of them and establish contacts with local scholars who work on those materials.  The final stage of the project will entail the study of the materials found inside the statues, the convening of a conference on the topic, and the publication of volume of essays that provides an authoritative study of statues with texts inside of them throughout East Asia.

The first year of the project was held in South Korea and the second year will be held in Japan.  We will be teaming up with Professors Abe Yasuro and Chikamoto Kensuke at Nagoya University to carry out field visits to temples and museums and then run a small conference/workshop. The study of objects inside of Buddhist statues (zōnai nōnyūhin 像内納入品) is well developed in Japan so we are hoping that the conference will allow us to become further acquainted with the most recent research and publications on the topic by Japanese scholars. The material from Japan is essential to understanding the pan-Asian phenomena of putting objects inside of statues since the evidence is so abundant and relatively easy to access. While much material is available in publications, it is our hope that we will also be able to use this field visit to see objects and their contents in situ or in person.

In this project the participants (scholars and graduate students) will learn how to work with museum and temple collections, negotiate access to proprietary material, procure images of Buddhist statues, and scan or photograph unique texts and manuscripts interred inside of the statues.  The provisional research questions motivating this project are concerned with what types materials are found within Buddhist statuary (donative texts, Buddhist sūtras, and extracanonical materials); how does that material add to our knowledge about (or challenge previous research on) East Asian Buddhism; how can the new material be used in conjunction with other types of sources; and why were certain types of texts put inside of statues (were they chosen for a specific reason or not?).


2017 Cluster Visits

Cluster 1.1 From Oral to Digital

Cluster Leader: Yinggang Sun

Site Visit: Mount Wutai 五臺山, and several famed sites in Shanxi 山西 that are significant for Buddhist arts and cultures.

Dates: July 20-29, 2017

Summary: This cluster project examines ways in which the transition from manuscript to print and the development of a range of technologies and reading techniques in pre-modern Asia may inform our understanding of the current global transition from print to digital media. We will focus on transformations in the culture of writing and reading in East Asia as a “distant mirror” (in the words of the European medievalist Barbara Tuchman) to reflect on current developments in the digital humanities and our changing relationships to texts.

One major goal of this 10-day visit is to visit, collect, make rubbings and take photographs of, and digitize the rich stone religious inscriptions on Mount Wutai and neighboring areas.

Cluster 1.2 Religion and Technology

Cluster Leader: Marcus Bingenheimer

Site Visit: Dharma Drum Mountain, Jinshan, Taiwan

Dates: June 5-16, 2017

Summary: This field visit will be drawing on the rich religious environment of Shimen county in Northern Taiwan to conduct a technology training workshop for faculty and students. Approximately half of the time will be spent visiting sites and collecting data, the other half of our time we will be spending on understanding digital tools to turn that data into information.

The theme of the first field visit of this cluster will be “Space and Cyberspace”. The first week will be an introduction to the use of GIS in the study of Chinese Religion using QGIS. Data gained from geo-referencing temples, shrines, and tombs in situ will be combined with data from public and historical records to map a religious landscape. The data gathered in field visits can e.g. be used in a case study to corroborate public data on religious sites, and show how accurate or complete the official data is. Historical data allows for diachronic mapping of the region. The second week will focus on the representation of religious spaces in cyberspace (Google Earth, Google Street View, Youtube, Virtual Worlds, immersive environments etc.). We will explore the use of such technologies for classroom teaching and research.

After the workshop participants will be able (1) to create maps for use in publications in print and online, (2) to create and collect geographical information from various online platforms, and (3) to integrate these skills into their teaching.

This field visit will train both experienced researchers and grad students in the digital representation of space, something that is not generally part of our training in Asian Studies. The data collected on the ground will be compared with existing digital datasets, reminding us how provisional and incomplete our digital models still are. This issue – the gap between the actual record and the digital information available – is rarely discussed, but will become increasingly important as more research relies on digital information.

Map of Religious sites created by the cluster:

To learn more, visit the Space and Cyperspace website by clicking here.

Cluster 2.1 Authenticity and Authority

Cluster Leader: Jinhua Jia

Site Visit: Jidu temple 濟瀆廟  and Mount Wangwu 王屋山 in Jiyuan 濟源市, Henan province, China

Dates: May 25 – June 3, 2017

Summary: This field visit will investigate two religious sites in the city of Jiyuan. The first is Jidu temple, the only remaining temple of traditional state sacrifice to rivers (sidu 四瀆: Yellow river 黃河, Yangzi river 長江, Huai river 淮河, and Ji river濟水). The second is Mount Wangwu, one of the Daoist sacred mountains. This field visit seeks to respond the question of how have concerns with identifying “major religious traditions” and “genuine” authors affected perceptions of authority and canonicity and to provide a unique opportunity to address when, where, and who has defined authoritative and authentic religions in China.

The visit comprises three steps. The first step is a one-day workshop, in which experienced and local experts will introduce the religious-historical context and current condition of the two sites, as well as the method and purpose of the visit. The rest of the first week will be spending on a comprehensive investigation of Jidu temple, including architectural style of the site, the legacy of state sacrifices to the river god, and stele inscriptions on site. The second week will be spending on Mount Wangwu, investigating architectural style of Daoist abbeys, pre-modern material cultural evidence, stele inscriptions, and contemporary practices of Daoist priests at abbeys.

By investigating two sites in Henan province, one Daoist, the other a rare example of traditional Chinese state religion, researchers in this cluster seek to realign the narrative of the history of Chinese religion with two definitive, often overlooked, groups who significantly shaped the definitions of authentic and authoritative religion in East Asia. While traditional Chinese state religion has been largely disregarded by contemporary traditions-based definitions of religion in China (e.g., Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism), many Daoist sites are overlooked due to over-emphasis upon either early or late Chinese Daoism. Jidu temple is the only remaining state sacrifice temple to rivers. On site, 72 buildings from the Song, Jin, Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties with more than 8,000 m2 and 100 steles are preserved. Nowhere else can researchers access such a rare example of traditional Chinese state religion. Mount Wangwu is one of the most important—though little studied—sacred Daoist sites with tangible links to Tang dynasty state patronage (the first of the ten Grotto Heavens 洞天) and dissemination of Daoist literature projects. Today, it is a unique site for researchers to interact with contemporary Daoist priests, monasticism, and ritual services, as well as the living architecture of modern Chinese Daoism. This field visit will train graduate students in field study of Chinese religions. It is important to the cluster’s theme of redefining “Authenticity and Authority.” It also contributes to the project with rich new data in this regard.

Please see the Cluster 2.1 field visit report, prepared by Liu Jie (Zhejiang Ocean University), and also the report Jiyuan: landscape, inscriptions and the past prepared by Barend J. ter Haar (Oxford University).

Cluster 2.2 “Secondary” Producers, “Primary” Roles

Cluster Leader: George Keyworth

Dates: May 29 – June 9, 2017

Site Visit: Myōrenji 妙蓮寺, Matsuo Taisha 松尾大社, Furitsu sōgō shiryōkan 京都府立総合資料館; Eizan bunko 叡山文庫, Miidera 三井寺 [園城寺], Ishiyamadera 石山寺; Possibly Amanosan Kongōji 天野山金剛寺  or Daigoji 醍醐寺.

This cluster is tasked with investigating two questions: what roles did editors, scribes, translators, and readers play in canon-making of Buddhist literature in Chinese, and how did non-religious factors shape this process? The goals of cluster 2.2 are to identify, catalog, and examine where “secondary” production took place and which individuals, groups, or institutions played prominent roles in re-shaping the canon(s). During the summer of 2017, researchers and students will take field trips to several sites in Kyoto where the Matsuo shrine canon is currently held (Myōrenji 妙蓮寺 and Furitsu sōgō shiryōkan 京都府立総合資料館) and where is was produced (Matsuo shrine 松尾大社). We will also visit Tendaishū 天台宗 sites in Shiga prefecture 滋賀県 where the Matsuo scriptures were copied from (Miidera 三井寺, Eizan bunko 叡山文庫), and one (or two) other temples with twelfth-century manuscript canons of their own (Shingonshū 真言宗: Ishiyama-dera 石山寺 and Amanosan Kongōji 天野山金剛寺 or Daigoji 醍醐寺).

In order to reach our goals [to identify, catalog, and examine where “secondary” production took place and which individuals, groups, or institutions played prominent roles in re-shaping the canon(s)], during the summer of 2017, researchers in this cluster will closely examine the case of the Matsuo shrine canon, the Tendai provenance of its extant scriptures, and comparatively well studied Old Japanese manuscript canons at adjacent sites such as Ishiyama-dera, Amanosan Kongōji, or Daigoji. These manuscript canons are not only invaluable resources that complement manuscripts from the continent (Dunhuang) in terms of philological research. They are also first-hand testimony of medieval Japanese Buddhist monastics, shrine priests, aristocrats, and scribes who (re-) shaped the content of the East Asian Buddhist canon for specific, local purposes. By visiting specific sites where (re-) production took place and these materials are preserved today, the group will obtain first-hand experience with physical manuscripts, how to handle them, and how to read and interpret colophons.

Cluster 2.5 From the Canonical to the Post-Canonical

Cluster Leader: Toshinori Ochiai

Site Visits: 1) Nanatsu-dera 七寺, Kongōji 金剛寺, and Kōshōji 興聖寺; 2) Iwayaji 岩屋寺

Dates: July 27 – August 2, 2017

Summary: This cluster intends to establish digital editions and textual searching system of many texts from the Japanese manuscript collections of Chinese Buddhist texts, especially focusing on monastic biographies and scriptural catalogues. To achieve this aim and assist our cluster members to investigate their targeted Buddhist texts in different versions that we have access to, during the summer of 2017, this cluster plans to organize fieldtrips to visit the following Japanese monasteries in which hand-copied manuscript and printed canons are preserved. The targeted collections include: 1) Manuscript canons preserved in Nanatsu-dera 七寺, Kongōji 金剛寺, and Kōshōji 興聖寺; 2) Woodblock printed canon that was produced in Song dynasty (960-1276) and is currently preserved in Iwayaji 岩屋寺.

The goals of this cluster are designed to exploit the huge potential of Japanese manuscript resources to have Duanhuang and Japanese manuscripts complement and complete each other, and finally to advance the further and long-term development of critical, textual analysis within the study of East Asian Buddhism. To serve such a purpose, visiting those traditional Buddhist sites where manuscript and printed canons are preserved, conducting on-the-spot investigations and collecting firsthand information are the factors essential to the success of this project.

Cluster 3.2 Historical Reality through the Reflections between Image and Text: Northern Dynasties Buddhism and Beyond

Cluster Leader: Kai Sheng

Site Visit: Luoyang 洛陽, Shaolin monastery 少林寺, Henan Province, China

Dates: July 30 – August 8, 2017

Summary: This field visit will be focused on Luoyang 洛陽 and more specifically, Shaolin monastery 少林寺, in Henan province, in central China. We will hold a conference about Buddhism during the Northern Dynasties at Shaolin monastery (see http://frogbear.org/call-for-papers-conference-on-the-shaolin-temple-and-buddhism-under-the-northern-dynasties/) . Shaolin monastery is not only one of the most famous temples in China because of its long history and its central role in the legendary transmission narrative of Chan Buddhism, but also because of abundant materials related to the history of martial arts, such as stela housed within the pagoda and on site. We will stay at the monastery for five days. We will spend approximately half of this five-day period discussing the history of the temple, contemporary life in the monastery, and some of the central tenets of Chinese Buddhism during the Northern Dynasties. The other half of the time will be spent taking a tour of Shaolin monastery and another temple, Yongtai si 永泰寺. We will collect data on site and instruct participating students and researchers how to interpret these valuable sources. On 3 August, we will leave to visit the two grotto complexes 石窟 at Gongxian 巩縣 and Longmen 龍門, respectively. We will collect data of stela and images at these grottoes and compare and contrast these data with public and historical records.

This field visit will contribute to the project’s mentoring goal by training both experienced researchers and graduate students in how to understand the relationship between manuscripts, stela, and images. The data collected on the ground will be subjected to intensive reading in comparison with textual sources, both published and unpublished, and public and private. Finally, the digitalized data of these stela, inscriptions, and images—especially from Shaolin monastery and Kongxian and Longmen grottoes—will enrich this project’s database.

Cluster 3.3 Texts in Statues

Cluster Leader: James Robson

Site Visit: Seoul (Aug 11-12) and visits to monasteries in local towns and cities to see pokchang objects (Aug 13-15)

Dates: August 11-16, 2017

Summary: The main goals of the “Texts in Statues” cluster are to identify, catalogue, and study all statues from China, Korea, and Japan with manuscripts and texts that have been interred inside of them.  Included in the scope of this project will be statues in situ in Asia as well as those in museums in Asia or abroad.  As part of the foundational preparatory work for this project researchers in each area will be charged with compiling an annotated bibliography of: 1.)  Primary sources (canonical and extra-canonical) that describe the interment of material inside of statues; 2.) Academic studies of known statues containing manuscripts and texts; and 3.) Mentions of the interment of texts in other historical or literary sources. The goal of this phase of the project is not necessarily to produce a bibliography, but rather use that material to identify key locations that we know have statues with interred materials.  Fieldwork in China, Korea and Japan will then be aimed at identifying published, unpublished, and/or unattested statues with materials inside of them and establish contacts with local scholars who work on those materials.  The final stage of the project will entail the study of the materials found inside the statues, the convening of a conference on the topic, and the publication of volume of essays that provides an authoritative study of statues with texts inside of them throughout East Asia.

The first year of the project will include a trip to South Korea to work with Korean colleagues on developing a comprehensive database of all images in Korea with texts interred inside of them.  The main focus, given the overall aims of this project, is going to be on the texts inside of the statues.  One of the main goals of field visits is to try to identify and gather new material that will allow us to generate new research. Given how little is known about the topic of this cluster it is not possible to state at the outset what will be found.  In addition to whatever we might be able to collect as part of the archival work, it will also be pertinent to assess current practices or icon animation through the interment of materials in statues.

While there are many individual research reports on individual Korea Buddhist images with contents (texts, images, etc.) inside of them, there is as yet (to our knowledge) no comprehensive database of all currently known statues with texts interred inside of them.  The material from Korea is essential to understanding the pan-Asian phenomena of putting objects inside of statues. There are also many attested cases of statues circulating within Asia and containing texts from other countries.  The Seiryōji image is perhaps the most famous example of this type, since it originated in Taizhou in China.  In this project the participants (scholars and graduate students) will learn how to work with museum and temple collections, negotiate access to proprietary material, procure images of Buddhist statues, and scan or photograph unique texts and manuscripts interred inside of the statues.  The provisional research questions motivating this project are concerned with what types materials are found within Buddhist statuary (donative texts, Buddhist sūtras, and extracanonical materials); how does that material add to our knowledge about (or challenge previous research on) East Asian Buddhism; how can the new material be used in conjunction with other types of sources; and why were certain types of texts put inside of statues (were they chosen for a specific reason or not?).