Thursday, February 20, 2014, 5 pm The Buddhist Site of Mes Aynak, Afghanistan Zemaryalai Tarzi, Professor Emeritus, Strasbourg University, France Institute of East Asian Studies, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor conference room
The site of Mes Aynak, Afghanistan, consists of an ensemble of ancient Buddhist settlements presently threatened by the modern exploitation of an adjacent copper mine by a joint Chinese-Afghan venture. The Buddhist art of Mes Aynak has been the object of meticulous attention by archaeologists and art historians, and several monastic settlements and hundreds of sculptures have been excavated. Stylistically, it is closely linked to the Kabul-Kapisa schools of art and, in a broader sense, is in keeping with the Central Asian art of the Hindukush, such as that of Hadda and Gandhara.
Although the chronology of the Buddhist settlements has yet to be determined, most of the monuments seem to date from the reign of the Kushano-Sassanids and the Hephthalites. However, to date no palace or administrative buildings have been unearthed, making it difficult to assign the site to a particular period of dynastic rule. One possibility is that Mes Aynak was managed by an independent commercial Buddhist brotherhood that had a monopoly on the copper, gold and glass mines. In this regard, it is interesting to note that the most impressive buildings are monastic.
Zemaryalai Tarzi, Professor Emeritus at Strasbourg University, is currently President of the Association for the Protection of Afghan Archaeology (APAA), the Director of the DIRI/APAA Mes Aynak Mission, Director for the French Excavations at Bamiyan, and a member of the UMR 7044 at the CNRS (MICHA-Strasbourg). Born in Kabul in 1939, Professor Tarzi has devoted his life to the protection and preservation of the archaeological heritage of Afghanistan, working as former Director for the Archaeology and Conservation of Historical Monuments of Afghanistan, as well as the former Director General for the Archaeology Institute of Afghanistan. He is the author of three theses and hundreds of articles and books.
Monday, March 3, 2014, 5 pm A Hiatus in the History of Chinese Buddhist Translation: What Happened in the Second Half of the Fifth Century? Funayama Toru, Shinnyo‑en Visiting Professor, Stanford University 3335 Dwinelle Hall
The work of translating Indian Buddhist texts into Chinese began in the Han Dynasty and continued into the Ming and Qing, with much of the work being done between the mid-second and early eleventh centuries. But the translation activities did not proceed without interruption; there were at least two remarkable periods in which translation came to a halt. The first was in the latter half of the fifth century. In his talk, Professor Funayama will explore the reasons why the translation work (as well as the migration of Indian monks to China) temporarily ceased at this time, and the significance of this hiatus for our understanding of the Sinification of Buddhism.
Funayama Toru is Professor in the Institute for Research in Humanities, Kyoto University, and Shinnyo-en Visiting Professor of Winter Term 2014 at Stanford. He specializes in medieval Chinese Buddhism in the Six Dynasties period, as well as in the scholastic tradition of the Yogācāra school of Indian Buddhism during the sixth through tenth centuries. His recent works include Making Sutras into 'Classics' (jingdian): How Buddhist Scriptures Were Translated into Chinese (in Japanese, 2013) and a four volume Japanese translation of theBiographies of Eminent Monks (Kōsōden) coauthored with Yoshikawa Tadao (2009–2010).