Inside Out

23 October 2019 - Ruixuan Chen (Heidelberg)
Inside Out: The Story of a Pair of Wooden Book Covers from Ancient Khotan
invited lecture at the BuddhistRoad project, CERES, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

This talk presents some preliminary findings of a codicological and historical investigation of a pair of wooden tablets that used to function as the covers of the main manuscript of the famous Book of Zambasta. While the book is well known as one of the most important sources for Khotanese Buddhism, the covers, bearing bilingual inscriptions which are every bit as interesting as the book itself, have not yet received due attention. This talk approaches this pair of book covers as written artifacts having social lives in their own right. Drawing parallels from a variety of Buddhist manuscript cultures in the trans-Himalayan regions, efforts will be made to shed new light on their materiality and its relevance to the persistent exchanges of religious ideas and material cultures across the Pamir mountain ranges throughout the second half of the first millennium.

Report of the guest lecture