LECTURE/SEMINAR> 6-7 MAY 2022 Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation Lecture Series in Chinese Buddhism at SOAS - Megan Bryson (University of Tennessee, Knoxville)

Stefania Travagnin Discussion

Dear colleagues,

The SOAS Centre of Buddhist Studies is delighted to invite you to the next event in The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Lecture Series in Chinese Buddhism. The event will be held at SOAS, on campus.
Our speaker will be Dr. Megan Bryson from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Her public lecture, titled "Dali’s Daggers: Buddhist Material Culture on the Southern Silk Road" will be held on Friday, 6 May 202217:30-19:00, in the Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre. The lecture is free and open to all, and will be followed by a wine reception.
The following day (7 May 2022) Dr. Bryson will give a seminar aimed at academics and postgraduate students, titled "Inviting the Gods to Yunnan: Dali-kingdom Ritual Texts". The seminar will be held in the Brunei Gallery, room B104, at 10:00-13:00. The seminar is free but registration is necessary; please email st8@soas.ac.uk for registering and further information about the event.
Abstracts of lecture and seminar, and details of the speaker can be found below. We look forward to seeing you at SOAS! 
Lecture "Dali’s Daggers: Buddhist Material Culture on the Southern Silk Road"
Ritual daggers or pegs feature prominently in Tibetan Buddhism, where the textual, visual, and material record testify to the importance of phur pa (aka phur bu) as ritual objects and as the deity animating these objects. However, the earliest extant daggers come from the Dali kingdom (937-1253) rather than from Tibetan regions. This talk examines Dali’s daggers to trace the transmissions of Buddhist material culture along the southern Silk Road that passed through the Dali kingdom, which governed a large swath of territory centered in modern-day Yunnan Province. It considers how the daggers of the Dali kingdom relate to Indian kīla, single-pronged vajra pestles from East Asia, and Tibetan phur pa. In the absence of textual sources documenting transmission practices, I treat these daggers as material records of transmission networks. This talk will illuminate the fascinating but understudied Buddhist traditions of the Dali kingdom and the southern Silk Road.
Seminar "Inviting the Gods to Yunnan: Dali-kingdom Ritual Texts"
Dali-kingdom (937-1253) Buddhism survives in a rich collection of texts, images, objects, and architecture. This seminar gives a general overview of the six unique ritual texts from the Dali kingdom, and then gives a more in-depth introduction to the compendium of esoteric Buddhist invitation rituals, Zhu fo pusa jingang deng qiqing yigui (Ritual Procedures for Inviting Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Vajra Beings, Etc.). This text includes sections for inviting approximately forty deities; it is mainly written in Sinitic script, but also incorporates dhāraṇī and bīja in Nāgarī script. Reviewing two of the sections in this text in conjunction with related images from the Dali kingdom will show how court Buddhists in the Dali kingdom crafted their own distinctive Buddhist tradition.
Speaker biography
Megan Bryson is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Her research focuses primarily on Buddhism in the Dali region of Yunnan Province, especially during the Nanzhao (649-903) and Dali (937-1253) kingdoms. Bryson’s first book, Goddess on the Frontier: Religion, Ethnicity, and Gender in Southwest China (Stanford University Press, 2016), traced the worship of a local deity in Dali from the 12th to 21st centuries. Her current projects include Buddhism on the Southern Silk Road, a monograph on the textual, visual, and material transmission of Buddhism in the Dali kingdom, as well as the edited volume Buddhist Masculinities (with Kevin Buckelew). Bryson’s research has been supported by an ACLS fellowship and she serves on the Board of Directors of the Society for the Study of Chinese Religion and the Tang Studies Society.