A Landscape of Texts -
On the Use of Temple Gazetteers for the Study of Chinese Buddhist History
Dr. Marcus Bingenheimer (Temple University)
Date/Time: Friday,December 13th, 5:15-7:00pm
Location: Columbia University Faculty House (Room 2, 2nd Floor)
Of the two thousand years of Buddhist history in China the first millennium has received more attention than the second. There are many reasons for this, among them the fact that the academic study of Chinese Buddhism has been dominated by the textual landscape of the Taishō Canon, which contains few pre-Ming Dynasty texts.
Among the non-canonical sources for Buddhist history in late imperial China is the large corpus of local gazetteers on Buddhist sites. Collections of these have been printed and re-printed and are now widely available in digital format. Gazetteers are composite works that contain texts of various genres, which offer different views on the site. The poems written about a site encode a different kind of information than imperial edicts, topographical descriptions, or travelogues. Next to the riches they offer, gazetteers come with a host of textual, structural and ideological problems. We will use examples from the series of gazetteers on Mount Putuo 普陀山 to discuss the strengths and limitations of the genre.