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Hualin International Journal of Buddhist Studies 4.1 (2021): 99–143;
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Buddhist Worldmaking Programs & Tiantai/Chontae/Tendai Buddhism)

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Xuanzang à Paris: The European Reception of the Japanese Buddhist World Map

Columbia University

Abstract: This chapter examines the significance of the Japanese Buddhist cartography of Xuanzang’s Great Tang Record of [Travels to] the Western Regions for the origins of the academic study of Buddhism in Europe. It traces the intellectual and material history of views of the Buddhist world produced in eighteenth-century Japan by monastics, intellectuals, and publishers as well as the transmission, translation, and reproduction of these views by the founding figures of the academic disciplines of Buddhist Studies and Sinology in nineteenth-century Paris. In doing so it seeks to reveal the unrecognized contributions of Japanese Buddhist cartography to the European understanding of the geography of Buddhism in China, Central Asia, and India and to the development of Buddhist Studies in the West.

Keywords: Xuanzang, Hōtan, Terajima Ryōan, Abel Rémusat, Julius Klaproth, Stanislas Julien


About the Author: D. Max Moerman is Professor in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures at Barnard College, Columbia University and Co-Chair of the Columbia University Seminar in Buddhist Studies. His research interests lie in the visual and material culture of premodern Japanese Buddhism. Moerman’s publications have examined such topics as the representation of pilgrimage landscapes in painting, literature, and ritual; the burial of sutras and Buddhist images; the death of the Buddha in medieval painting and the print culture of the Edo period; islands of women in the history of Japanese maps; narrative and iconographic traditions of lepers and hot springs; Buddhist cartography and cosmography; and religious oaths inscribed on Japanese talismans. He is the author of Localizing Paradise: Kumano Pilgrimage and the Religious Culture of Premodern Japan (Harvard University Asia Center, 2005) and The Japanese Buddhist World Map: Religious Vision and the Cartographic Imagination (University of Hawai‘i Press, forthcoming). Moerman received his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1999.


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.