Prospects for the Study of Dunhuang Manuscripts:
The Next 20 Years 

Conference at Princeton University
September 6-8, 2014


Featured: Bringing ancient Buddhism to light


 Princeton University International Conference on Dunhuang Manuscripts


Or. 8210/S. 6983, a Chinese manuscript booklet of chapter 25 of the Lotus Sutra, held in the British Library

Co-sponsored by:
Princeton University Buddhist Studies Workshop, International Liaison Committee for Dunhuang Studies, with Major Funding from The Henry Luce Foundation

Co-organizers: Stephen F. Teiser (Princeton Univ.), TAKATA Tokio (Kyoto Univ.)

The roughly 60,000 texts uncovered in the Mogao Caves at Dunhuang (Gansu Province, northwestern China) in the year 1900 constitute one of the greatest historical discoveries of the modern age. Most are handwritten on paper, although the corpus also includes the world’s oldest dated printed text, a copy of the Diamond Sutra produced by xylography in 868. Most of the texts are Buddhist scriptures written in Chinese or Tibetan, but a wide range of languages from the ancient Silk Road are also represented, including Uyghur, Sanskrit, Sogdian, Khotanese, and Hebrew. In addition to Buddhist canonical texts the hoard includes liturgies, early Chan (Zen) compositions, Daoist scriptures, Nestorian texts, Manichaean hymns, vernacular poems, Chinese classics, performance literature, schoolbook primers, writing exercises, census registers, local government documents, divorce decrees, loan agreements, and wills.

The conference features research in all disciplines of Dunhuang manuscript studies, including religious studies, literature, history, linguistics, and paleography. 29 papers will be presented by  scholars involved in the International Liaison Committee for Dunhuang Studies from greater China, Japan, Europe, and the US.

Two keynote addresses (by FANG Guangchang, Shanghai Normal University, and Susan Whitfield, International Dunhuang Project) are also planned, one on Saturday, Sept. 6 at 9:00 am, and one on Monday, Sept. 8, at 4:30 pm, the latter followed by a public reception.

The languages of the conference will be Chinese and English, and papers will be written in either language. Brief abstracts will be available in both Chinese and English. At the conference, simultaneous interpretation/translation will not be provided, but local students will assist in discussion.