2023 FROGBEAR Phase 2 Cluster Activities

2023 FROGBEAR Phase 2 Cluster Activities

Scriptures Storehouse (Issaikyōzō 一切経蔵). Matthew P. Keller. Cluster 2.2, 2017.


Phase 2 Cluster Activities


The application period is now closed.


Cluster 1.3 Market and Merit

Cluster leaders: Susan AndrewsYoun-mi Kim

Site(s): Wongaksa Temple Museum, the Leeum Samsung Museum, the National Museum of Korea, Songgwangsa, Haeinsa

Dates: May 16–20, 2023

Language(s): English or / and Korean. Interpretation will be provided. A knowledge of Classical Chinese will enhance individuals’ experiences, however is not required.


This fieldwork experience and colloquium builds on the “Working with Objects and Manuscripts” virtual Frogbear workshop convened (virtually) with the Wongaksa Temple Museum 圓覺寺聖寶博物館 in 2021. Focusing on the careful study of objects housed in their collection––including manuscripts, Buddhist paintings, statues, and dhāraṇī prints–– together with materials preserved in the Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, the National Korean Museum, as well hubs of practice such as Songgwangsa and Haeinsa, the 2023 initiative invites participants to consider through diverse visual, material, and textual sources the relationships between donors, manufacturers, and artisans–especially women actors—and the religious landscape. In addition to gaining familiarity with the materials themselves, participants will learn how to date manuscripts (based on the quality of paper, for instance), how to date artworks (based on their style, for example), and how to locate dedicatory inscriptions in these sources. Complementing onsite experiences, a 1-day colloquium bringing together experts from the Frogbear project and beyond to explore the roles of women donors in the making of East Asian religious life.

Expected Costs for participants (other than airfare): $1000 CAD ($600 lodging, $250 meals, $150 transport)



Cluster 1.5 Extended Textual Communities

Cluster Leader: Jiang Wu

Site(s): Kyoto, Japan

Dates: July 23–30, 2023

Language(s): Fluent English and some Chinese or Japanese


The Ōbaku tradition is one of the three main Zen schools in Japan, together with Sōtō and Rinzai. It is a relatively late arrival from China, having been established in the mid-17th century, roughly four centuries after the larger Sōtō and Rinzai schools. The school is noted for numerous innovations in Buddhist culture, both in the visual arts and in the production of a new Buddhist canon, namely the Ōbaku or Tetsugen Canon, which can trace its origins back to the Hangzhou area in 17th-century China. This canon, based on the main section of the Jiaxing Canon 嘉興藏 which is the reprint of the Northern Ming Canon 明北藏), consists of 2,094 titles and 6,950 volumes. It was re-carved on wooden blocks and printed in Japan in 1673. Throughout the early modern period until the creation of the now commonly used Taishō canon 大正藏 of the 1930s, it dominated the Japanese Buddhist world and remains one of only three examples of the East Asian Buddhist canon within which the entirety of the wooden blocks has been preserved. The primary goal of this week-long program, which will be conducted at Manpukuji (Uji, Japan), is to examine how the Buddhist textual tradition was extended outside China through the reproduction of the Buddhist canon by focusing on the religious importance of printing technologies. The results of this trip will complement the current scholarship on the Ōbaku tradition (Helen Barani, Obaku Zen: The Emergence of a Third Sect of Zen in Tokugawa Japan, 2000; Jiang Wu, Leaving for the Rising Sun: Chinese Zen Master Yinyuan and the Authenticity Crisis in Early Modern East Asia, 2015) and on the Chinese Buddhist canon (Jiang Wu, et. al. Spreading Buddha’s Words: The Transformation of the Chinese Buddhist Canon in East Asia, 2015).

Expected Costs for participants (other than airfare): $1750 CAD ($1100 lodging, $350 meals, $175 transport, $125 entrance fees)


Cluster 3.1 Multicultural Dunhuang: Manuscripts and Paintings

*This cluster is full and no longer accepting applications.

Cluster Leaders: Imre GalambosMichelle C. Wang

Site: London, UK. British Library and British Museum

Dates: June 26–30, 2023

Language(s): English required, and reading knowledge of classical Chinese. Other classical languages (Tibetan, Khotanese, etc.) also welcome. Modern Chinese helpful but not required.


The tenth century in Dunhuang marked a period of great political, social, and religious transformation as the local rulers, known as the “Return to Allegiance Army” (Guiyijun), who ruled from 848-1036, declared their independence from the Tibetans and nominally “returned” Dunhuang to Chinese rule. The Guiyijun increasingly sought political alliances with the neighboring Uyghurs and Khotanese, developed a sophisticated painting academy that carried out large-scale projects at the Mogao caves, and distinguished themselves as patrons of cave construction and renovation, and of religious manuscripts and portable paintings.

This cluster, co-led by a scholar of manuscripts and an art historian, seeks to develop interdisciplinary research methods by which the contents of the Dunhuang “Library Cave” – manuscripts and paintings – are reconciled with one another, paying close attention to methodologies that are applicable to both by focusing especially on the material features of these primary sources. We also aim to shed light on the material traces of Buddhism and transcultural contacts between the local population of Dunhuang and neighboring kingdoms and states. In summer 2023, our fieldwork will be based at the British Museum and British Library. Circumstances permitting, we will examine Dunhuang portable paintings and manuscripts from the Stein Collection, and participate in lectures delivered by experts at both host institutions and guest scholars. Participants will be trained in the study of Dunhuang portable paintings and manuscripts and learn about ongoing projects.

Expected Costs for participants (other than airfare): $1175 CAD ($900 lodging, $75 meals, $200 transport)


Cluster 3.4 Typologies of Text-Image Relations

Cluster leaders: Christoph Anderl, in collaboration with Marcus Bingenheimer, Oliver Streiter, Tzu-Lung Melody Chiu, and Ngar-sze Lau

Site(s): Chinese temples in Bangkok, Thailand

Dates: May 24–June 2, 2023

Language(s): English; knowledge of Chinese is desirable; language support for Thai will be provided.


Chinese temples in Thailand (and many other locations in South and Southeast Asia) give witness to the complex history of the spread of Chinese Buddhism, and the co-existence of various forms of Buddhism in that area. In the context of Thailand – although characterized by a dominance of Theravada Buddhism – there is a large number of Chinese temples especially in the Bangkok area, most of them clustering in and around Chinatown. Despite their Chinese heritage, many agents associated with the temples (monastics and laypeople) have fully integrated in Thai society and do not speak Chinese anymore (this seems to be a feature quite different from Chinese religious institutions in other countries where even after several generations the Chinese linguistic heritage is preserved). The temples still play a significant role for the religious and cultural life, as well as the identity, of communities with Chinese ancestors. Naturally, most of the temples cluster in and around Chinatown of Bangkok. This contemporary function of these religious institutions will be one focus of the fieldtrip, and we aim to document as many temples as possible with photographic (including 3D survey images) and video materials.

In addition, we will focus on a specific aspect of material culture extant in many of these temples, concretely, inscriptional / epigraphic materials. Chinese immigration to Southeastern locations started several hundred years ago, and the earliest inscriptions date back to the 17th century. In our work, we will focus on inscriptions predating the 19th century. Here, we build on the monumental work of Wolfgang Franke who in 1998 published a survey of epigraphic materials in Thailand. In our fieldwork, we aim to both trace Franke’s documented materials in the contemporary temples, document them with high-resolution images, in addition to complementing the records of Franke.

This will also enable us to gain an impression of the current condition of these materials, and their significance for religious practices and for the heritage / touristic activities of the individual temples. We will not only document materials in Chinese but also in Thai (or other languages such as Pali).

Expected Costs for participants (other than airfare): $1755 CAD ($880 lodging, $275 meals, $300 transport, $300 entrance fees)