Course Description This course traces the pilgrimage of the 7 th century Buddhist monk Xuan Zang (602-664 CE) on the Silk Roads, from Xi’an through Central Asia to India, and examines the multiple sites of cross-cultural exchange- religious, artistic, political, cultural- that were negotiated along the way. Accordingly, the course will attempt to not only map Xuan Zang’s journey from his own perspective, as recorded in his memoirs and biographies, but also seek the significance of his travels in terms of the peoples, cultures, and artifacts that he encountered on his travels. Finally, the course will attempt to critically appraise the legacy of Xuan Zang’s journey on Chinese Buddhism, Chinese views of Central and South Asia, and the popular imagination, particularly in regard to art and literature. Ideally, the course should enable each participant to reflect on the following themes and questions: The idea of religious pilgrimage. In what ways does Xuan Zang’s journey conform to what we would consider to be a “pilgrimage” (i.e., a journey (usually of a long distance) made to a sacred place as an act of religious devotion)? What were his motivations for journeying to the “West”? Would it be appropriate to describe his journey as “religious tourism”? Cultural exchange on the Silk Roads. How were ideas, concepts, and ways of life communicated, interpreted, and transformed on the Silk Roads? What concrete examples of cultural exchange and transformation can we identify on Xuan Zang’s travels? Anthropology of Central Asian cultures. What ways of life and modes of being are being described in Xuan Zang’s memoirs and his biographies? How did his “Chinese” background color and shape his interpretations of local cultures? The transformation of Chinese Buddhism. What can we say about Xuan Zang’s impact on the history of Chinese Buddhism? Does the “failure” of Xuan Zang’s “Consciousness-Only” school (Weishi 唯識 /Sanskrit, Vijñaptim ā tra) reveal something about Chinese culture and society during the Tang? Could Xuan Zang’s most important contribution to Chinese Buddhism be the growth of imperial patronage of Buddhist institutions? Xuan Zang and the popular imagination. Why did the “legend of Xuan Zang” capture the popular imagination? What elements of his journey seem most prominent in his hagiographies and legends? Course Requirements (1) Photo Blog(2) Visit Presentation(3) Participation(4) Research Paper
Texts Beal, Samuel, trans. The Life of Hiuen-Tsiang. Translated from the Chinese of Shaman Hwui li. 1911. Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1973. Beckwith, Christopher. Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Asia from the Bronze Age to the Present. Ch’en, Kenneth. Buddhism in China. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1972. de Bary, Theodore, and Irene Bloom, eds. Sources of Chinese Tradition, Second Edition. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000. Devahuti, D. The Unknown Hsuan-Tsang. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. Foltz, Richard. Religions of the Silk Road: Overland Trade and Cultural Exchange from Antiquity to the Fifteenth Century. New York: St. Martin’s, 1999. Graham, A. C. Disputers of the Tao: Philosophical Argument in Ancient China. LaSalle, IL: Open Court, 1999. Hall, David, and Ames, Roger. Anticipating China: Thinking through the Narratives of Chinese and Western Culture. Albany: SUNY Press, 1995. Lewis, Mark. China’s Cosmopolitan Empire: The Tang Dynasty. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2009. Li, Rongxi, trans. The Great Tang Dynasty Record of the Western Regions. Berkeley, CA: Numata Center for Buddhist Translation and Research, 1996. Lokesh, Chandra, and Banerjee, Radha, eds. Xuanzang and the Silk Route. New Dehli: Munshiram Manoharlal, 2007. Mitchell, Donald. Buddhism: Introducing the Buddhist Experience. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. Whitfield, Susan. Life along the Silk Road. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1999. Wriggins, Sally Hovey. The Silk Road Journey with Xuanzang. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1996. Yu, Anthony. The Monkey and the Monk: An Abridgment of the Journey to the West. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006. Pre-Trip Preparation February: Chinese Texts and Philosophical Contexts. Readings: de Bary, 3-224; Graham, 9-291; Hall & Ames, 181-282 March: Buddhism in China. Readings: Mitchell, 9-150, 178-217; Chen, 3-240; de Bary, 415-43; Stanley Weinstein, “Imperial Patronage in the Formation of T’ang Buddhism,” in Perspectives on the T’ang, eds. Denis Twitchett and Arthur Wright (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1973), 265-306. April: Central Asia and the Silk Roads. Readings: Foltz, 1-60; Beckwith, 1-162; Lewis, 145-78, 207-40; Tansen Sen, “In Search of Longevity and Good Karma: Chinese Diplomatic Missions to Middle India in the Seventh Century,” Journal of World History 12 (2002), 1-29; Devahuti, 1-68.
Week 1: Setting out from Chang’an (Xi’an) Readings: Wriggins, The Silk Road Journey, 1-18; Beal, 1-34. May 9 th : Arrive in Xi’an and check in at the Xi’an Garden Hotel. Tour the City Wall and Gates (Chengmen). May 10 th : Visit the Qin Terracotta Army Museum. May 11 th : Visit the Shaanxi Museum and the Big Goose Pagoda (Da Yan Ta).
May 12 th : Travel to Lanzhou. Check into the Lanzhou Hotel. May 13 th : Tour the Binglingsi Shiku (Bingling Grottoes). May 14 th : Visit the Labrang Monestary in Xiahe. May 15 th : Travel to Jiayuguan. Check into the Jiayuguan Binguan. “Time seems to stop. In despair he begins to retrace his steps back toward China and the fourth watchtower. But then he remembers his oath that he would rather Die with his face toward the West than return and live In the East. Again he sets off. For four days and five nights the pilgrim and his horse struggle westward. Not a drop of water anywhere. His mouth, lips, and throat are parched by burning heat. The evening of the fifth day horse and rider fall down exhausted. Xuanzang collapses on the sand. He prays to the Compassionate One, Guanyin. Dew begins to fall on the pilgrim and his horse. A cool wind blows over them. He is able to slide into a deep slumber. He dreams of a tall spirit holding a lance and standard who calls out to him, ‘Why do you sleep?’ Once more he sets out with his skinny horse.”
Week 2: The Western Frontier Readings: Wriggins, 19-36, Beal, 35-84; Dorothy Wong, “The Making of a Saint: Images of Xuan Zang in East Asia,” Early Medieval China 8 (2002), 43-98; Chandra & Banerjee, 197-244. May 16 th : Visit the Jiayuguan Pass. May 17 th : Travel to Dunhuang. Check into the Dunhuang International Hotel. May 18 th : Visit the Mogao Caves (Part 1). May 19 th : Visit the Mogao Caves (Part 2). May 20 th : Visit the Mogao Caves (Part 3). May 21 st : Travel to Hami. Check into the Hami Hotel. May 22 nd : Travel to Turpan. Check into the Turpan Guesthouse.
Week 3: Oases of the Northern Silk Road Readings: Victor Mair, “The Origins of the Iconographic Pilgrim Hsuan-Tsang,” T’ang Studies 4 (1986), 29-41. May 23 rd : Visit the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves. May 24 th : Visit the ancient city of Gaochang. May 25 th : Visit the ancient city of Jiaohe. May 26 th : Travel to Kucha. Check into the Qiuchi Binguan. May 27 th : Visit the ancient city of Subashi.May 28 th : Visit the Kizil Kara Buddhist Caves. May 29 th : Travel to Kashgar. Check into the Century Hotel.
Week 4: Passage to India Readings: Wriggins, 37-54; Li Rongxi, 15-82. May 30 th : Visit the Three Immortals Buddhist Caves (Sanxian Dong). May 31 st : Visit the Idkah Mosque and the ancient city of Hanoi. June 1 st : Travel to Tashkent. Check into the Gulnara Guesthouse. June 2 nd : Tour the Old Town and Chorsu Bazaar and visit the Khast Imom. June 3 rd : Travel to Samarkand. Check into Antica. June 4 th : Visit the Registan and the Bibi-Khanym Mosque. June 5 th : Travel to Delhi, Varanasi (Benares). Check into the Uma Guesthouse.
Week 5: Seeing the Buddha Readings: Wriggins, 55-136; Beal, 85-165; Li Rongxi, 165-220; Chandra & Banerjee, 283-90. June 6 th : Tour Varanasi. June 7 th : Visit Kapilavastu and Lumbini. June 8 th : Tour Sarnath. View the Dhamekh Stupa, Ashoka’s Pillar, and Chaukhandi Stupa. June 9 th : Tour Deer Park and visit the Sarnath Museum. June 10 th : Travel to Bodh Gaya. Check into Hotel Siddartha. June 11 th : Visit the Mahabodhi Temple. June 12 th : Visit Nalanda. June 13 th : Travel to Delhi. Depart for Boston. Final Reading: Yu.