PROGRAM> Site Visits to East Asia: Opportunities in China and Korea Summer 2018

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The project "From the Ground Up: Buddhism and East Asian Religions" (also known as: FROGBEAR) is accepting applications to participate in our research clusters' site visits to various religious sites in East Asia. There is no tuition cost to attend, however participants are responsible for their own travel arrangements. Please visit the website, and direct any questions to

Cluster 1.1 From Oral to Digital

Cluster Leaders: Yinggang Sun, Jinhua Chen

Site(s): Jinci Temple晋祠 in Shanxi province: With a Focus on the Stone Scripture of the 80-fascicle Huayan jing 八十卷本華嚴經

Dates: July 20-25, 2018

Language of Instruction: Reading knowledge of classical Chinse is necessary. Some English instruction will be provided. Otherwise, all instruction will be in Chinese.

Summary:  The stone scriptures at Yunju monastery 雲居寺 (or Fangshan 房山石經) are justifiably famous, and well-studied, particularly by scholars in China. Most scholars are far less aware of the stone scriptures of the 80 fascicle Huayan jing carved in 699 at the Jinci. Not only are these scriptures material evidence of the tremendous role the sole female emperor of China, Wu Zetian 武則天 (r. 690-705), played in supporting Buddhism, but they also speak to the special place of the new translation of the Avataṃsaka Sūtra by Śikṣānanda 実叉難陀 (652-710). This cluster workshop will investigate the Huayan jing at Jinci from the perspective of the adoption of new media: the transition from manuscripts to early printing. When print took hold amid a strong and enduring culture of manuscripts, this is not unlike our current adoption of blogs, WeChat, and other social media outlets, which are replacing online platforms and newspapers. To address this comparative media approach, the group will study the Jinci Huayan jing stone scriptures alongside digital copies of manuscripts and later printed editions of the Huayan jing to examine the role of authority in establishing and disseminating knowledge through various media. Philological matters concerning different recensions of the text will also be addressed.

Sites of fieldwork for this cluster include various locations important for the production of East Asian religious sources of different media, including Beilin Museum碑林博物館, religious epitaphs around the Wutai area, and religious materials on different media stored at the Jinci Temple 晋祠  in Taiyuan. But the principal focus will be on the 80-fascicle Huayan jing carved on the stone pillars preserved at Jinci. Participants will work closely with scholars, museum curators, and field visit supervisors.

This cluster project examines ways in which we still need to investigate early examples of the transition from manuscript to print and the development of a range of technologies and reading techniques in premodern Asia may inform our understanding of the current global transition from print to digital media. We will focus on transformations in the culture of writing and reading in East Asia as a “distant mirror” (in the words of the European medievalist Barbara Tuchman) to reflect on current developments in the digital humanities and our changing relationships to texts.

Jinci Temple晋祠 is an essential site where we can address the transition from manuscript to print culture at a special moment and place in medieval China.

Student participants will be trained to take photos of the stone epitaphs, to prepare rubbings of the stone texts, to read the stone inscriptions using different methodologies, and to compare epigraphic sources with relevant sources presented through other media, especially in manuscript and print.  Physical details will be registered of the stones documented, ideally with an eye to their original placement at the site.

Costs for participants are estimated at $550 CAD (in addition to airfare).

Cluster 2.1 Authenticity and Authority

Cluster Leader: Jinhua Jia

Site: Dongzhen Temple 東鎮廟 in Weifang City 濰坊市, Shandong Province, China

Dates: May 18-23, 2018

Language of Instruction: English and Chinese


After the first field visit in 2017, the cluster has decided to focus its field visits on traditional state sacrifice to major sacred mountains and waters, which was systematized as Wuyue五嶽 (Five Marchmounts), Wuzhen 五鎮 (Five Stronholds), Sihai 四海 (Four Seas), and Sidu四瀆 (Four Waterways). In 2018, we will investigate the religious site of Dongzhen Temple (Temple of Eastern Stronghold) in Weifang City of Shandong. The temple was first built in the Song dynasty and preserves about 100 steles from the Yuan-Ming-Qing period. This is one of the two only remaining temples of the traditional state sacrifice to the mountains of Five Strongholds. We will also visit Mount Yi 沂山 (Mount Dongzhen or Eastern Stronghold) and other nearby religious sites, as local people still worship the spirit of the mountain today.

Like the cluster’s first field visit in 2017, the 2018 field visit seeks to respond the question of how have concerns with identifying “major religious traditions” and “genuine” authors affected perceptions of authority and canonicity and to provide a unique opportunity to address when, where, and who has defined authoritative and authentic religions in China.

The visit comprises three steps. The first step is a half-day workshop, in which experienced and local experts will introduce the religious-historical context and current condition of the site, as well as the method and purpose of the visit. The second step is to visit Dongzhen Temple, Mount Yi, and other nearby religious sites. Investigations of the visits include the architectural styles of the sites, the legacy of state sacrifices to the mountain, stele inscriptions on sites, and current local religious beliefs and activities related to the temple. The third step is an initial processing of the collected data.

The general schedule is to do field visit in the morning, and to input the collected data in the afternoon.

Costs are estimated at 250 RMB/day for lodging and meals. Group transportation will be provided during the visit.

Cluster 2.2 “Secondary” Producers, “Primary” Roles

Cluster Leader: George Keyworth

Site(s): Haeinsa 海印寺, Tongdosa 通度寺, Pulguksa 佛國寺 (and Sŏkkuram 石窟庵), Hwaŏmsa 華嚴寺, and Songgwangsa 松廣寺. Archival or museum field work: National Museum of Korea, Dongguk University Central Library, and Horim Museum.

Dates: July 11-21, 2018

Languages of Instruction: English-language instruction with guest lectures / presentations in Korean, with English translation.


Cluster 2.2 will accomplish two separate but related research goals in Korea in July 2018. First, we will continue to address two research questions for cluster 2.2: what roles did editors, scribes, translators, and readers play in canon-making of Buddhist literature in Chinese, and how did non-religious factors shape this process? We will, therefore, identify, catalog, and examine where “secondary” production took place and which individuals, groups, or institutions played prominent roles in re-shaping the canon(s). Researchers and students will take field trips to several Buddhist monasteries in South Korea—Haeinsa 海印寺, Tongdosa 通度寺, and Pulguksa 佛國寺—that have played seminal roles in propagating the printed Buddhist canon(s) in classical Chinese in East Asia (1st and 2nd Korean canons, a.k.a. “Tripiṭaka Koreana” 高麗大藏經, ca. 10th-14th centuries). Yet Koreans continued to produce manuscript editions of religious literature and privately printed documents, which have received very little attention outside Korea. Working with Korean colleagues especially at Dongguk University, we will also visit several museums and archives (National Museum of Korea, Dongguk University Central Library, and Leeum Museum) with precious, but severely understudied, examples of manuscripts and extra- or non-canonical printed works to investigate the role(s) Koreans played in producing and reproducing texts that circulated on the continent and in Japan. Special consideration will be given to the first printed Korean canon and extant copies from Korean canons in Japan (e.g., the Kitano Tenmangū shrine 北野天満宮 in Kyoto).

The second research goal will address aspects of clusters 2.5 and 1.1 to investigate the preservation of the 60- and 80-roll translations of the Buddhāvataṃsaka-sūtra 華嚴經 (Kor. Hwaŏmgyŏng, T nos. 278-279). Cluster 1.1 is inspecting the 80-roll translation by Śikṣānanda carved in stone in 699 at Jinci 晉祠 in China. We will investigate the rock-cut Hwaŏmgyŏng at Hwaŏmsa 華嚴寺, which legend holds date back to the founding of the monastery by Ŭisang 義湘 (625-702) in 677 (probably 725). The stones were traditionally stored in the Kakhwangjŏn 國皇殿, but they were severely damaged during the invasions by Toyotomi Hideyoshi 秀吉豊臣 (1592-1598). There is a transformation tableau of Śikṣānanda’s 80-roll Hwaŏmgyŏng at Songgwangsa 松廣寺, which shows how this seminal translation influenced Buddhists in Korea. Comparative analysis of these editions with manuscript editions from the Shōsōin 正倉院 in Japan demonstrates that alternative editions of the Buddhāvataṃsaka-sūtra may have been used in Korea and Japan, and shows that considerable attention needs to be given to the preservation and continued use of scriptures outside China. A conference in China with cluster 1.1 will present some of this new research.

Costs are estimated at $2000 per participant (in addition to airfare).

Cluster 3.2 Historical Reality through the Reflections between Image and Text: Northern Dynasties Buddhism and Beyond

Cluster Leader: Kai Sheng

Site(s): Ye Cheng(邺城),Xiangtangshan(响堂山), Xiaonanhai(小南海),Henan province, China

Dates: July 13-19, 2018

Languages of Instruction: Chinese and English


We will explore extant cave sites in Hebei and Henan provinces, where stone scriptures were carved in premodern Chinese history. We will focus on stone Buddhist sūtras, images, and inscriptions from the Northern Dynasties period (ca. 386-534) at Xiangtangshan 響堂山, Xiao Nanhai 小南海, and Xiangquan monastery 香泉寺 in the Yecheng 鄴城 area. The workshop will compare stone scriptures and other epigraphical evidence with Dunhuang documents from the Northern Dynasties that have recently received special attention within and outside China. Participants in this cluster will, therefore, engage in comparative research looking at manuscript and inscriptions of early Buddhist literature in northern China. Some significant manuscripts and epitaphs will be documented and subjected to scrutiny, both on site and after the field visits.

This composite research project carefully examines Buddhist history, thought, faith, institutions, state support, and social activities during the Northern Dynasties period. The primary focus of our research concerns material evidence of the Dilun 地論 (Shidi jinglun 十地經論, T no. 1522, 6th century translation of the Daśabhūmi-vyākhyāna-śāstra) during the Northern Dynasties period. Collated Dilun documents from many sources and media show complicated and nuanced relationships between documents and images, as well as how to creatively reconstruct certain important aspects of East Asian religious

Costs are estimated at $400 per participant (in addition to airfare).