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Hualin International Journal of Buddhist Studies 2.1 (2019): 153–171;
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Faxian)

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Sites of Caṅkrama (Jingxing 經行) in Faxian’s Record

KIM Minku 金玟求
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Abstract: Caṅkrama is a classical Indian notion denoting a special form of ritualized locomotion or ‘mindful pacing’. In Chinese Buddhism, jingxing is adopted, as early as in the Eastern Han translations by Lokakṣema, to render the technical sense of the Indic term, overriding pre-existing, homophonous parlance in Chinese. It is in this standard Buddhist context, too, that Faxian, who traveled India in the early fifth century, recorded ten specific sites of jingxing within India proper (or Madhyadeśa), associated with the Historical Buddha or other worthies in the past. The Chinese pilgrim monk’s witness offers us an intriguing firsthand testimony to the sites of caṅkrama being actively commemorated and worshipped in Indian Buddhism as a sacred place.

Keywords: Faxian, caṅkrama, caṅkramaṇa, Madhyadeśa, caitya, 經行, 經行處


About the Author: Professor Kim is an art historian specializing China between the Han and Six Dynasties (206 BCE–589 CE), particularly in relation to Buddhism. His research aims to encompass the pan-Buddhist world in its entirety. As a result, he is profoundly intrigued by the relationships and interplays within and among cultures in Eurasia.

He publishes on a wide range of topics including archaeology, philology, and religious studies, and is currently working, among other projects, on a book-length monograph, titled, tentatively, Sculpture for Worship: Buddhism and The Cult of Statues in Early Medieval China.

Before joining the Department of Fine Arts, he was Assistant Professor of East Asian Art & Archaeology at the University of Minnesota (2012–2015) and an Andrew W. Mellon Scholar in the Humanities at Stanford University (2010–2012). He studied under Lothar von Falkenhausen and Gregory Schopen at UCLA for his doctorate (2011) and earned his M.A. (2005) and B.A. (2003) from the Department of Archaeology & Art History at Seoul National University.

Occasionally, he also reads Sanskrit, Gāndhārī, Tocharian, and Classical Tibetan in their original forms.


This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.