Buddhist Manuscript Cultures: Knowledge, Ritual, and Art (Paperback) book cover

Buddhist Manuscript Cultures

Knowledge, Ritual, and Art

Edited by Stephen C. Berkwitz, Juliane Schober, Claudia Brown

© 2009 – Routledge

212 pages

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Buddhist Manuscript Cultures explores how religious and cultural practices in premodern Asia were shaped by literary and artistic traditions as well as by Buddhist material culture. This study of Buddhist texts focuses on the significance of their material forms rather than their doctrinal contents, and examines how and why they were made.

Collectively, the book offers cross-cultural and comparative insights into the transmission of Buddhist knowledge and the use of texts and images as ritual objects in the artistic and aesthetic traditions of Buddhist cultures. Drawing on case studies from India, Gandhara, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Mongolia, China and Nepal, the chapters included investigate the range of interests and values associated with producing and using written texts, and the roles manuscripts and images play in the transmission of Buddhist texts and in fostering devotion among Buddhist communities.

Contributions are by reputed scholars in Buddhist Studies and represent diverse disciplinary approaches from religious studies, art history, anthropology, and history. This book will be of interest to scholars and students working in these fields.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Rethinking Buddhist Manuscript Cultures Stephen C. Berkwitz, Juliane Schober, and Claudia Brown

Part I: Ideologies

2. Why Did the Gandharan Buddhists Bury their Manuscripts? Richard Salomon

3. Materiality and Merit in Sri Lankan Buddhist Manuscripts Stephen C. Berkwitz

Part II: Production

4. Redaction, Recitation, and Writing: Transmission of the Buddha's Teachings in India in the Early Period Peter Skilling

5. Diverse Aspects of the Mongolian Buddhist Manuscript Culture and Realms of Its Influence Vesna A. Wallace

6. From Words to Books: Indian Buddhist Manuscripts in the First Millennium CE Jens-Uwe Hartmann

Part III: Curating

7. Between Zhongfeng Mingben and Zhao Mengfu: Chan Letters in their Manuscript Context Natasha Heller

8. Two Buddhist Librarians: The Proximate Mechanisms for Northern Thai Buddhist History Justin McDaniel

9. Emending Perfection. Prescript, Postscript and Practice in Newar Buddhist Manuscript Culture Christoph Emmrich

Part IV: Art and Architecture

10. Flowers for the Dhamma: Painted Buddhist Palm-leaf Manuscript Covers from Sri Lanka Bilinda Devage Nandadeva

11. From Text to Image: Copying as Buddhist Practice in Late Fourteenth-Century Sukhothai M.L. Pattaratorn Chirapravati

About the Editors

Stephen C. Berkwitz is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Missouri State University. His research focuses on Buddhist Studies in Sri Lanka. At present he is preparing "South Asian Buddhism: A Survey", also for publication with Routledge.

Juliane Schober is Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies, Arizona State University. Her research focuses on Theravada Buddhism in Burma, particularly on ritual, sacred geography, and the veneration of icons in the modern state cult.

Claudia Brown is Professor of Art History, Arizona State University. Her research interest is the History of Art with an emphasis in Chinese painting.

About the Series

Routledge Critical Studies in Buddhism

Routledge Critical Studies in Buddhism is a comprehensive study of the Buddhist tradition. The series explores this complex and extensive tradition from a variety of perspectives, using a range of different methodologies. The series is diverse in its focus, including historical, philological, cultural, and sociological investigations into the manifold features and expressions of Buddhism worldwide. It also presents works of constructive and reflective analysis, including the role of Buddhist thought and scholarship in a contemporary, critical context and in the light of current social issues. The series is expansive and imaginative in scope, spanning more than two and a half millennia of Buddhist history. It is receptive to all research works that are of significance and interest to the broader field of Buddhist Studies.

Some of the titles in the series are published in association with the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies, which conducts and promotes rigorous teaching and research into all forms of the Buddhist tradition.

Editorial Advisory Board:
James A. Benn, McMaster University, Canada

Jinhua Chen, The University of British Columbia, Canada

Rupert Gethin, University of Bristol, UK

Peter Harvey, University of Sunderland, UK

Sallie King, James Madison University, USA

Anne Klein, Rice University, USA

Lori Meeks, University of Southern California, USA;

Ulrich Pagel, School of Oriental and African Studies, UK

John Powers, Australian National University, Australia;

Juliane Schober, Arizona State University, USA

Vesna A. Wallace, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA

Michael Zimmermann, University of Hamburg, Germany

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
RELIGION / Buddhism / General (see also PHILOSOPHY / Buddhist)
RELIGION / Buddhism / Sacred Writings
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General