Thursday, 29 November 2012

Buddhist rhetoric of power in Late Antique Afghanistan/ Buddhism and the Sakas

Two Lectures | Friday 7 December 2012

Time: 13.00 - 16.00
Venue: Lipsius Room 228, Cleveringaplaats 4, Leiden

First Lecture | Buddha, Monks and Lay Devotees: the Buddhist rhetoric of power in Late Antique Afghanistan

First speaker: Dr. Anna Filigenzi
Chinese pilgrims often describe public Buddhist ceremonies performed by lay rulers, such as a king, humbly crownless and barefoot, welcoming with offerings a procession of Buddhist images or another king symbolically renounced all earthly goods – including his own kingdom and family – on behalf of the Buddha. These and similar manifestations hint to a synthesis of philosophical, religious and social instances that seems to have deeply permeated the Late Antique Buddhist world.
Confirmation of the widespread rhetoric of the “Buddhist kingdom”, in which rulers act not only as patrons but as true terrestrial Bodhisattvas entrusted with the protection ofdharma, is provided by paintings and sculptures which witness a variegated range of ritualised customs, in the form of pious metaphors or hieratic acts of devotion and homage performed by individuals, families or distinctive social groups of high rank. Newly excavated sites such as Tepe Narenj and Mes Aynak now provide fresh and strikingly explicit evidence, which in turn allow us to re-examine the old documentation with stronger interpretative models.
Anna Filigenzi is temporary researcher at the University of Naples “L’Orientale” and the holder of the FWF stand-alone project “The cultural history of Uddiyana 4th to 8th century CE” at the Numismatic Commission of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Since 2004 she is the director of the Italian Archaeological Mission in Afghanistan and since 1984 a member of the Italian Archaeological Mission in Pakistan.

Second Lecture | Buddhism and the Sakas: Nomads of Central Asia in Greek, Persian, Indian, and Chinese Sources

Second speaker: Prof. Meiji Yamada
A nomad group called Sakai or Scythai in 5th century BCE Greek sources, and Saka in Persian sources, as well as Sak in 2nd century BCE Chinese sources, appeared in the Indian subcontinent after the 2nd century BCE, and played a central role in the spread of Buddhism. They probably introduced a sort of non-doctrinal Buddhism  to Southern China. Some strange Buddha images are found in Chinese graves along the Yangtze River from the 2nd to the 4th centuries. It seems that the Sakas introduced these Buddha images to Southern China.  Their presence in China however appears in few written historical accounts. Using these accounts along with archaeological sources, Prof. Yamada will try to trace their movements in Central Asia, India and China.

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