Cluster Leader: Kai Sheng, Tsinghua University

This research is primarily concerned with several extant caves from the Northern Dynasties period in Hebei and Henan provinces where sūtras were carved and images with inscriptions remain. For the purpose of propagation or preservation of Buddhist texts, at least in the mid-sixth century, Chinese Buddhist monks and laypeople started to carve texts (usually accompanied by Buddhist images) on the stone in grottoes and monasteries. These stone carving materials not only provide the earliest version of many sutras but also allow scholars to study the history of the practice and transmission of the Buddhist schools in Medieval China. Material evidence from these sites can be connected to many documents in the Dunhuang manuscript cache. We pay particular attention to the unique relationship between documents, epigraphy, and images with regard to the development and spread of ‘Ten Stages’ (Daśabhūmi or Dilun) teachings within historical, philosophical, devotional, ritual, institutional, social, and political contexts with the goal of creatively reconstructing a fuller understanding of pre-Tang dynasty Buddhism on the ground in China.

From 2017 July to 2019 July, Cluster 3.2 has visited the Buddhist historical sites that preserve both stone inscriptions and images belonging to the Northern Dynasties (386–589 CE) and Sui-Tang (581–907 CE) in Northern China, including Longmen Grottoes 龍門石窟 , Xiaonanhai Grottoes 小南海石窟, Lingquansi Grottoes 靈泉寺石窟 and Shaolin Monastery 少林寺 in Henan Province; Xiangtang Caves 響堂山石窟 in Hebei Province; Fayuan Monastery 法源寺, Yunju Monastery 雲居寺and Shijing Mountain 石經山 in Beijing.

Two principle purposes have been involved in all field visits: collecting of the data both of inscriptions and images from these sites, and training scholars and graduate students in how to acquire the primary resources from the field visits. Therefore, all the participants have joined in all phases of the visits, either through the participation in collecting the metadata, or sharing expertise to help interpret historical materials on site.

The outcomes of the three field trips include about 800 photos of inscriptions and images, four symposiums, one workshop and four lectures. Participants have published their papers in symposiums and workshop based on the studies of these sites.

View the 2019 cluster brochure.

The 2019 field visit report can be found here.

View the 2019 Cluster symposium proceeding’s table of contents.

View digital data collection for 2017 here.

View digital data collection for 2018 here.


2018 field visit team

Read the 2018 field visit report.


Affiliated Researchers Associated Researchers
Baycroft, Anne (University of Saskatchewan) – 2017 Buckelew, Kevin (Northwestern University) – 2019
Bumkeun, Park (Tsinghua University) – 2018 Chen, Tuo (Fudan University) – 2017
Cheng, Wanhsin (Tsinghua University) – 2018 Chen, Zhiyuan (Institute of Chinese History, CASS) – 2018
Dong, Lixia (University of Arizona) – 2017 Gundersen, Guttorm Norberg (University of Oslo) – 2017
Leong, Chonmeng (Tsinghua University) – 2018 Le Roux-Kemp, Andra (City University of Hong Kong) – 2017
Li, Lan (McMaster University) – 2019 Li, Lan (Longman Grottoes Academy) – 2018
Mitchell, Maggie (University of British Columbia) – 2017 Liu, Yi (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Mu, Yezi (Ghent University) – 2017 Mohr, Michel (University of Hawaii) – 2017
Norton, Michael (Tsinghua University) – 2018 Paletskiy, Denis (Chinese Academy of Social Science) – 2017
Sheng, Kai (Tsinghua University) – 2017, 2018, 2019 Ren, Neng (Institute of Buddhist Culture of China) – 2018
Sokolova, Anna (Ghent University) – 2017 Sooter, Joshua (New York University) – 2017
Balkwill, Stephanie (University of Winnipeg) – 2018, 2019 Tou, Minhui (College of Art) – 2017
Crosby, Anne (Harvard Divinity School) – 2018 Wang, Yue (University of Alberta) – 2018
Ren, Jing (Peking University) – 2018 Wu, Meilian (University of Pennsylvania) – 2019
Teiser, Stephen (Princeton University) – 2018 Xu, Chunyu (Beijing Buddhist Cultural Institute) – 2018
Wang, Mengxiao (University of Southern Carolina) – 2017 Zong, Xuan (Beijing Buddhist Cultural Institute) – 2018
Wang, Quntao (Peking University) – 2017
Wu, Jinhui (University of Arizona) – 2017
Wu, Luchun (Zhejiang University) – 2017
Yang, Jianxiao (Tsinghua University) – 2018, 2019
Zhang, Dewei (Sun Yat-sen University) – 2019
Zhang, Yi (Peking University) – 2018
Zhao, Jinchao (University of Virginia) – 2018
Cluster 3.2

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Northern Xiangtangshan Grottoes 響堂山石窟: 31.757090, 107.485020
Xiaonanhai Grottoes 小南海石窟: 36.073273, 114.284368
Shaolin Temple 少林寺: 37.809900, 112.575490
Yunju Temple 雲居寺: 39.609317, 115.774244
Fayuan Temple 法源寺: 39.884739, 116.369739
National Library of China 中國國家圖書館: 39.943804, 116.323506
Ye Cheng 邺城遺址: 36.342731, 114.589919
Longmen Caves 龍門石窟: 34.559808, 112.467878
Lingquansi Grottoes 靈泉寺石窟: 36.043773, 114.075850
Shuiyusi Grottoes 水浴寺石窟: 36.532998, 114.201771
Chongfu Temple 崇福寺: 39.884369, 116.369986
Doushuai Temple 兜率寺: 39.677255, 115.828762
Yunju Shang Temple 雲居上寺: 39.614663, 115.785937
Gufo Temple 古佛寺: 39.884369, 116.369986
Pusheng Temple 普勝寺: 39.944921, 116.330127
Yunshui Cave 雲水洞: 39.410000, 115.480000
Yunti Abbey 雲梯庵: 39.671894, 115.828254
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Northern Xiangtangshan Grottoes 響堂山石窟
Cluster 3.2 - description

Cluster 3.2 2018 - Xiangtanshan 響堂山石窟 data collection

Northern Xiangtangshan Grottoes 響堂山石窟, Handan Shi, China
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Xiaonanhai Grottoes 小南海石窟
Cluster 3.2 description

Cluster 3.2 2018 - Xiaonanhai 小南海石窟 data collection

Xiaonanhai Grottoes 小南海石窟, Henan, China
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Shaolin Temple 少林寺
Cluster 3.2 description
Shaolin Temple 少林寺, Henan, China
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Yunju Temple 雲居寺
Cluster 3.2 description

Cluster 3.2 2019 - Yunju Temple 雲居寺 data collection

Yunju Temple 雲居寺, Beijing, China
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Fayuan Temple 法源寺
Cluster 3.2 description

Cluster 3.2 2019 - Fayuan Temple 法源寺 data collection

Fayuan Temple 法源寺, Beijing, China
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National Library of China 中國國家圖書館
Cluster 3.2 description
National Library of China 中國國家圖書館, Beijing, China
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Ye Cheng 邺城遺址
Cluster 3.2 description

Cluster 3.2 2018 - Yecheng 邺城遺址 data collection

Ye Cheng 邺城遺址, Hebei, China
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Longmen Caves 龍門石窟
Cluster 3.2 description

Cluster 3.2 2017 - Longmen Caves 龍門石窟 data collection

Longmen Caves 龍門石窟, Luoyang-shi, China
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Lingquansi Grottoes 靈泉寺石窟
Cluster 3.2 - description

Cluster 3.2 2018 - Lingquansi Grottoes 靈泉寺石窟 data collection

Lingquansi Grottoes 靈泉寺石窟, Henan, China
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Shuiyusi Grottoes 水浴寺石窟
Cluster 3.2 description

Cluster 3.2 2018 - Shuiyusi Grottoes 水浴寺石窟 data collection

Shuiyusi Grottoes 水浴寺石窟, Handan Shi, Hebei, China
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Chongfu Temple 崇福寺
Cluster 3.2 description

Cluster 3.2 2019 - Chongfu Temple 崇福寺 data collection

Chongfu Temple 崇福寺, Beijing, China
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Doushuai Temple 兜率寺
Cluster 3.2 description

Cluster 3.2 2019 - Doushuai Temple 兜率寺 data collection

Doushuai Temple 兜率寺, Beijing, China
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Yunju Shang Temple 雲居上寺
Cluster 3.2 description

Cluster 3.2 2019 - Yunju Shang Temple 雲居上寺 data collection

Yunju Shang Temple 雲居上寺, Beijing, China
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Gufo Temple 古佛寺
Cluster 3.2 description

Cluster 3.2 2019 - Gufo Temple 古佛寺 data collection

Gufo Temple 古佛寺, Beijing, China
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Pusheng Temple 普勝寺
Cluster 3.2 description

Cluster 3.2 2019 - Pusheng Temple 普勝寺 data collection

Pusheng Temple 普勝寺, Beijing, China
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Yunshui Cave 雲水洞
Cluster 3.2 description

Cluster 3.2 2019 - Yunshui Cave 雲水洞 data collection

Yunshui Cave 雲水洞, Beijing, China
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Yunti Abbey 雲梯庵
Cluster 3.2 description

Cluster 3.2 2019 - Yunti Abbey 雲梯庵 data collection

Yunti Abbey 雲梯庵, Beijing, China