The Second International Conference on the Wutai Cult

The Second International Conference on the Wutai Cult

Feature image: Zcm11, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Mañjuśrī in Motion:

Multi-cultural, Cross-religious Characteristics and International Impact of the Wutai Cult


Schedule Panelists Abstracts Gallery

Primary Sponsor:
The Wutai International Institute of Buddhism and East Asian Cultures

Secondary Sponsors:
King’s College at the University of London
Research Center for Buddhist Texts and Arts (RCBTA) at Peking University
Tsinghua Institute for Ethics and Religions Studies (IERS)
Fudan Buddhist Studies Forum
UBC Buddhist Studies Forum

Host: Great Sage Monastery of Bamboo Grove

Venue: Great Sage Monastery of Bamboo Grove, Mount Wutai

Dates: Afternoon of July 19 (Opening Ceremony & Keynote Speech Session) ——July 20 (tour on Mount Wutai) ——July 21-22 (conference) ——July 23-24 (tour in Datong, including the Yungang Grottoes complex and several major temples in Datong)

Located in central China, the mountain range known as Wutai 五臺 was perceived as the new Chinese abode for the famous Indian bodhisattva, Mañjuśrī. As such, it came to be widely venerated by Buddhist believers from all over East Asia. This conference explores a plethora of trans-cultural, multi-ethnic, and cross-regional factors that contributed to the formation and transformation of the cult centered on Wutai and its dwelling bodhisattva (Mañjuśrī), as well as the “international” roles (religious, political, economic, commercial, diplomatic and even military) that the Wutai-centered cult has played in Asia and beyond.

Topics for this conference include, but are not limited to:

  • Wutai’s status as a pilgrimage center in Asia;
  • Various patterns of interactions between different religious traditions at Wutai;
  • Presence of and interactions between different Buddhist traditions (Chan, Tiantai, Pure-land, Vinaya, Esotericism, Tibetan Buddhism, etc) at Wutai;
  • Political and military uses of Wutai by competing powers in East Asia (the international rivalry revolving around Wutai, intensified by its location as a frontier territory for several major forces in Central and East Asia);
  • Imagination and perceptions of Wutai in East Asian countries and regions beyond China;
  • Wutai as the model on which sacred sites (including sacred mountains, temples, and shrines) were “cloned” in the rest of Asia (Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and Central Asia);
  • Wutai as the source of inspiration for different forms of literature and arts in Asia;
  • Wutai as the source of revelations for religious traditions, both Buddhist and non-Buddhist.

The organizing committee welcomes paper proposals related to any aspect(s) of the “internationality” and cross-culturalism of the cult centered on Wutai and/or Mañjuśrī. All conference-related costs, including, local transportation, meals and accommodation during the conference period, will be covered by the conference organizers, who—depending on availability of funding—may also provide a modest travel subsidy to selected panelists who are in need of funding. This conference is planned as a continuation of a conference on the Wutai cult that was held last summer at Mount Wutai:

Our goal is to bring 15-18 international scholars to the conference, who will be joined by an equal number of China-based scholars working on the Wutai cult. Similar to the last Wutai conference, the conference this coming year will generate two conference proceedings: one in English and the other in Chinese. The English volume will collect all the papers in English, plus the English translations of several papers written in non-English languages; the Chinese volume, to be published in China, will include the Chinese versions for all non-Chinese papers in addition to those papers contributed by our colleagues based in China. Only scholars who are confident in finishing their draft papers by the end of June and publishable papers by the end of 2016 are encouraged to apply.

This conference is planned as part of our annual Intensive Program of Lectures Series, Conference/Forum, and Fieldwork on Buddhism and East Asian Cultures. Interested graduate student and post-doctoral fellows are welcomed to apply for the whole program: