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
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.