[Lecture] Buddhist Accounts of Maritime Crossing in the Southern Seas

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Readers in Singapore may be interested in this talk at ISEAS, as part of the Singapore’s Pasts lecture series.

Date: Tuesday, 14 August 2018
Time: 3.00 pm – 4.30 pm
Venue: ISEAS Seminar Room 2

 

About the Lecture
The talk will present select passages of Chinese, Sanskrit, and Tibetan sources narrating the sea passages of Buddhist monks travelling by ship between India and China via Southeast Asia. In particular, it will discuss the trope of the “miraculous aversion of shipwrecks”, highlighting the elements of intertextuality that emerge from the accounts. It will then analyse a similar motif found in the Sejarah Melayu, namely the avoidance of shipwrecks by Sang Nila Utama on the occasion of his crossing of the Straits. On the basis of this passage and other textual and archaeological evidence, it will argue that the Sejarah Melayu features pre-Islamic elements drawn from a “Buddhist fund” going back to the polity of Śrīvijaya.

About the Speaker
Andrea Acri (PhD Leiden University, 2011) is Assistant Professor in Tantric Studies at the École Pratique des Hautes Études (PSL University, Paris), and Associate Fellow at the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre. He has held various research and teaching positions in India, Singapore, the UK, and Australia. He has authored articles in international academic journals and published edited volumes on Shaiva and Buddhist tantric traditions in South and Southeast Asia, as well as wider cultural and historical dynamics of Intra-Asian connectivity. His monograph Dharma Pātañjala, originally appeared in the Gonda Indological Studies Series (Egbert Forsten/Brill, 2011), has been recently republished in India by Aditya Prakashan (New Delhi, 2017), and is being published in Indonesian translation by EFEO/Gramedia.

New Buddhist rock art at Wat Phraphuttachai, Saraburi

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New Buddhist rock art at Wat Phraphuttachai, practically invisible to the naked eye. Only parts of the "wings" can be seen easily.

Over the weekend, fellow rock art enthusiast Francesco Germi and I took a day trip from Bangkok to Saraburi province to visit Wat Phraphuttachai, a temple known for its Buddhist and ‘prehistoric’ rock art. For my doctoral research, I studied rock art sites across Mainland Southeast Asia that had later become religious shrines and so this site was of some personal interest.

Wat Phraphuttachai, Saraburi province, Thailand

Wat Phraphuttachai, Saraburi province, Thailand

Wat Phraphuttachai is located on a cliff face and the gold-roofed pavilion at the side of the cliff contains its namesake: a Buddhist rock painting in which is said to be an imprint of the Buddha himself.

Buddha's imprint, the 'Phraphutthachai' of Wat Phraphuttachai

Buddha’s imprint, the ‘Phraphutthachai’ of Wat Phraphuttachai

Just beside the entrance of this pavilion is a small section of wall that contain some other rock paintings. The rock art, which was gazetted by the Fine Arts Department in 1935, consists of hand prints, some honeycomb designs and an assortment of fragmentary red paintings. Most are extremely hard to see today.

The cliff side of Wat Phraphuttachai. The rock art is located just to the right of the pavilion's entrance, behind the Buddha statues.

The cliff side of Wat Phraphuttachai. The rock art is located just to the right of the pavilion’s entrance, behind the Buddha statues.

Red handprints and examples of very faded paintings at the site

Red hand prints and examples of very faded paintings at the site.

It wasn’t until we got back home and started to analyse our pictures with DStretch that we realised that one section of the wall with fragmentary paintings was actually a massive and magnificent image of the Buddha! Like the Phraphutthachai image, this Buddha is also life-sized but is more embellished.

New Buddhist rock art at Wat Phraphuttachai, practically invisible to the naked eye. Only parts of the "wings" can be seen easily.

New Buddhist rock art at Wat Phraphuttachai, practically invisible to the naked eye. Only parts of the “wings” can be seen easily.

I’m wondering now if the paintings all belong to the historic Buddhist period, rather than a two-layer prehistoric-then-Buddhist occupation. It could be some of the earlier paintings that were called human and animal figures were really misidentified. Finding this elaborate Buddhist image was quite cool, and if any readers could comment on the style of art, we would like to hear them – leave a comment below. For now, we have submitted a preliminary report of the finding to the Fine Arts Department of Thailand.

New Journal: Pratu – Journal of Buddhist and Hindu Art, Architecture and Archaeology of Ancient to Premodern Southeast Asia

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Check out this new journal from Southeast Asian Art Academic Programme at SOAS. The journal is calling for papers for the inaugural 2019 issue, see here.

Journal of Buddhist and Hindu Art, Architecture and Archaeology of Ancient to Premodern Southeast Asia

Pratu: Journal of Buddhist and Hindu Art, Architecture and Archaeology of Ancient to Premodern Southeast Asia is the initiative of a group of research students in the Department of History of Art and Archaeology at SOAS University of London in collaboration with departmental mentors. The journal is funded by the Alphawood Foundation, under the auspices of the Southeast Asian Art Academic Programme (SAAAP). The student editorial group works closely with an advisory group formed of members of SAAAP’s Research & Publications Committee.

Pratu is conceived as a site for emerging scholars to publish new research on the ancient to premodern Buddhist and Hindu visual and material culture of Southeast Asia. The journal’s remit adheres to that of SAAAP itself, covering ‘study of the built environment, sculpture, painting, illustrated texts, textiles and other tangible or visual representations, along with the written word related to these, and archaeological, museum and cultural heritage’.

Pratu means ‘gateway’ or ‘entrance’ in several Southeast Asian languages. The salience of the term for our project lies in its etymological development, where the application of Khmer morphology to Tai terminology to name architectural structures of Indic fame betrays the complexity of the historical evolution of Southeast Asian Buddhist and Hindu traditions. The journal is a gateway: a space of access and transition that reflects our aim to facilitate new scholars’ first experiences with academic publishing as they move from student to early career researcher status. This includes Southeast Asian scholars who would like to reach a wider readership by publishing in English translation and benefitting from the peer-review process. In this way Pratu offers greater exposure to scholars and new research, and furthers the development of inter-institutional and international collaboration.

Source: Pratu

Conference | Theravāda Buddhism in Khmer Lands

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For readers in Phnom Penh, a conference on Theravada Buddhism happening tomorrow (13 Feb 2018):

Theravāda Buddhism in Khmer Lands
with TUN Puthpiseth, PhD in Art History at the University Paris-Sorbonne, and Director of the Research Unit at the Royal University of Fine Arts
Tuesday 13 February 2018 at 6.30pm
Conference in French, translated in Khmer and English
Free entry subject to availability

Source: Conference | Theravāda Buddhism in Khmer Lands

See also:

Tracing the roots of Buddhism in Cambodia | Phnom Penh Post, 12 Feb 2018

The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Fellowship and Grant Competitions in Buddhist Studies

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Fellowship and Grant Competitions in Buddhist Studies

2017-18 Call for Applications

The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) invites applications in the 2017-18 competition year of The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Program in Buddhist Studies. In cooperation with the Foundation, ACLS offers an integrated set of fellowship and grant competitions supporting work to expand the understanding and interpretation of Buddhist thought in scholarship and society, to strengthen international networks of Buddhist studies, and to increase the visibility of innovative currents in those studies.

Dissertation Fellowships: one-year stipends to PhD candidates for full-time preparation of dissertations

Postdoctoral Fellowships: two-year stipends to recent recipients of the PhD for residence at a university for research, writing, and teaching

Research Fellowships: one-year stipends for scholars who hold a PhD degree, with no restrictions on time from the PhD

Grants for Critical Editions and Scholarly Translations: one-year stipends for the creation of critical editions, translation of canonical texts, and translation of scholarly works

New Professorships: multi-year grants to colleges and universities to establish or expand teaching in Buddhist studies

These are global competitions. There are no restrictions as to the location of work proposed, the citizenship of applicants, or the languages of the final written product. Applications must be submitted in English. Program information and applications are available at www.acls.org/programs/buddhist-studies/.

Deadline for submission of fellowship applications: November 15, 2017.

Deadline for institutional applications for New Professorships: January 10, 2018.

For more information, please email BuddhistStudies@acls.org.

The American Council of Learned Societies, a private, nonprofit federation of 75 national scholarly organizations, is the preeminent representative of American scholarship in the humanities and related social sciences. Advancing scholarship by awarding fellowships and strengthening relations among learned societies is central to ACLS’s work. This year, ACLS will award more than $20 million to over 300 scholars across a variety of humanistic disciplines.

Established in 2005, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation is a private philanthropic organisation based in Hong Kong. The Foundation’s dual mission is to foster appreciation of Chinese arts and culture to advance global learning and to cultivate deeper understanding of Buddhism in the context of contemporary life.

The Foundation’s Buddhist studies and Buddhist art programmes include the Buddhist Ministry Initiative at Harvard Divinity School; a centre and an endowed professorship in Buddhist studies at Stanford University; a centre for Buddhist studies at the University of Toronto; an endowed chair and programme in Buddhism and Contemporary Society at the University of British Columbia; a multi-year lecture series at SOAS University of London; the Centre for Buddhist Art and Conservation and MA programme at The Courtauld Institute of Art; the Galleries of Buddhist Art at the Victoria and Albert Museum; a three-year exhibition, Encountering the Buddha: Art and Practice Across Asia, opening in the Sackler Gallery in Washington in October 2017, and other exhibitions of Buddhist art around the world. www.rhfamilyfoundation.org.