Edited by Ru ZHAN, Jinhua CHEN, Yun JI
Series: Hualin Series on Buddhist Studies II
Publishing Date: 2020-12-20
Publisher: World Scholastic Publishers
Open access: Download PDF
Buddhism originated in India, but due to the emphasis on oral transmission in the Indian religious environment and the unique Indian conception of history distinct from that in China, it is often difficult to arrive at a precise historical understanding of key figures and events. Facing this challenge, inscriptions and other archaeological sources prove their irreplaceable value. Among the inscriptions discovered in the Indian subcontinent, a great many are related to Buddhism, the study of which has provided the foundation for studying the history, philosophy, society and various other aspects of Indian and South Asian Buddhism.
Our situation ameliorates when it comes to the study of Chinese history because, by and large, Chinese culture values written records and, unlike India, used to have a ‘culture of court historians’. But even then, inscriptions still play a fundamental role in various fields of Buddhist Studies; Buddhist inscriptions have been amply studied by international scholars, with numerous important outcomes already published.
Motivated by the above considerations, we hosted from August 20th to 21st, 2019, a conference titled ‘Manufacturing, Preservation and Interpretation of Buddhist Metal and Stone Epitaphs in Central and East Asia’ at St Anne’s College at the University of Oxford, in our efforts to promote the academic research of Buddhist inscriptions. In this conference, twenty-two scholars from Europe, North America, and East Asia engaged in fruitful exchange of such disciplines as archaeology, history and sociology. We have collected and edited twelve of the conference papers and published them in this collection.