All events are free and open to the public

Fall Term 2018

Friday, November 9, 2018, 3 - 8 pm
2018 Toshihide Numata Book Award Presentation and Symposium
‘Meaning in the World and in Texts’: Thoughts on Buddhist Philosophy of Language
Jodo Shinshu Center, 2140 Durant Avenue, Berkeley

Tzohar image

The Toshihide Numata Book Award in Buddhism is awarded on an annual basis to an outstanding book or books in the area of Buddhist studies. The selection is made by an external committee that is appointed annually. This year's winner is Professor Roy Tzohar (Tel Aviv University) for his book A Yogācāra Buddhist Theory of Metaphor (Oxford University Press).

3:10 pm: Introduction and Award Presentation
3:30 pm: Keynote by Award Winner Roy Tzohar
4:30-4:45: Coffee Break
4:45 pm: Symposium

  • Our Talk of the Merely Intentional:
    On Tzohar’s Analysis of Buddhist Upacāra

    Jonardon Ganeri, New York University
  • How to Bring Words to Life:
    Apoha as the Transition between Nonconceptual and Conceptual Language in Pratyabhijñā Śaivism
    Catherine Prueitt, George Mason University
  • Metaphors and Realities
    Evan Thompson, University of British Columbia
6:00 pm: Discussion

Event Contact: buddhiststudies@berkeley.edu, 510.643.5104

Tuesday, November 13, 2018, 4pm
Presence and Memory: Commemorating the Buddha in Late Burmese Wall Paintings
Alexandra Green, British Museum
180 Doe Memorial Library
UC Berkeley

Image of The bodhisatta Bhuridatta meditating Zedi Daw Daik complex, Anein village. Late 18th-early 19th century Burma/Myanmar

Step into a Burmese temple built between the late seventeenth and early nineteenth centuries and you are surrounded by a riot of color and imagery. The majority of the highly detailed wall paintings displays Buddhist biographical narratives, inspiring the devotees to follow the Buddha’s teachings. Yet, the temples and their contents must be viewed as a whole, with the wall paintings mediating the relationships between the architecture and the main Buddha statues and thereby forging a unified space for devotees to interact with the Buddha and his community. These temples were a cohesively articulated and represented Burmese Buddhist world to which the devotees belonged and which aimed to transform practitioners’ lives in the present and future. This presentation draws upon art historical, anthropological, and religious studies methodologies to analyze the wall paintings and elucidate the contemporary religious, political, and social concepts that drove the creation of this lively art form.

Alexandra Green is Henry Ginsburg Curator for Southeast Asia at the British Museum. Her recent publications include Buddhist Visual Cultures, Rhetoric, and Narrative in Late Burmese Wall Paintings (Hong Kong, 2018) and “From Collecting History to Iconography: Southeast Asian Shadow Puppets in the British Museum” in the Journal of the Siam Society. Currently, she is working on an exhibition about Sir Stamford Raffles' Javanese collections that will open in 2019. Her research interests include narrative theory, collecting history, the relationships between word and image, and the role of art in the study of Asia.

This event is made possible by funding from the Ruby Lord Fund for Theravada Studies. It is co-sponsored by the Department of South & Southeast Asian Studies, the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, and the Department of Art History..

Monday, December 3, 2018, 5 pm
The History and Science of Paper in Manuscripts of Central Asia
Agnieszka Helman-Ważny, University of Hamburg & University of Warsaw
180 Doe Memorial Library
UC Berkeley

The History and Science of Paper in Manuscripts of Central Asia image

Manuscripts from the Silk Road have been used as a key source in the study of religions, literature, and the cultural history of Central Asia. However, they have hardly ever been viewed as artifacts in their own right. As one of the most important physical features of a manuscript, paper serves as a means to distinguish one type of manuscript from another, and can help to determine the origin of a manuscript. This lecture, based on selected collections of paper and manuscripts found in the caves of Western Nepal, Tibet and Central Asia, surveys a variety of analytical techniques in comparison to codicological methods traditionally applied to manuscript studies. By broadening the scope of methods and ways of thinking, we may gain greater precision of temporal and regional attribution of excavated artifacts.

Agnieszka Helman-Ważny (Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures, University of Hamburg, and the Department of Books and Media History, Faculty of Journalism, Information and Book Studies, University of Warsaw) is a paper scientist and the author or co-author of four books and over forty scholarly articles.

Co-sponsored by the Tang Center for Silk Road Studies.

Thursday, February 28, 2019, 5pm
2019 Khyentse Lecture
Recently discovered ancient Tibetan manuscripts and what they reveal about old cultures of ritual and some Tibetan Buddhist innovations
Toni Huber, Humboldt University, Berlin
Location: TBD
UC Berkeley

2019 Khyentse Lecture image

In recent years, two sets of unique 11th century Tibetan manuscripts have been discovered - a sensational development according to many scholars. Texts and paintings in these manuscripts allow new insights into the cultural outlook of the little-known transition period between the 9th century fall of the Tibetan empire, and the radical socio-religious project of forging a thoroughly Buddhist society across the Tibetan Plateau that begun in earnest during the 11th century. These obscure texts mostly record previously unknown types of non-Buddhist rites. They address a range of concerns, including culturally problematic deaths of pregnant and birthing mothers and their infants, and of accident victims, offer solutions to those afflicted by psychic torment, or ensure that new human lives safely enter the world following deaths. One manuscript is richly illustrated with coloured miniatures that count among the oldest paintings from the Tibetan Plateau not directly related to organized religions. This lecture introduces results of new research on these old manuscripts and rites, outlines the previously unknown worldview they represent, and investigates cases where this ancient ritual system influenced some later innovations in Tibetan Buddhism.

Toni Huber has been Professor of Tibetan Studies at the Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany, since 2003. His research interests and published oeuvre focus on ethnography and cultural history of Tibetan Plateau and eastern Himalayan highland societies, environment and society, ritual and religion, and nomadic pastoralism. His major monographs include Source of Life. Revitalisation Rites and Bon Shamans in Bhutan and the Eastern Himalayas (Vienna, In Press), The Holy Land Reborn. Pilgrimage and the Tibetan Reinvention of Buddhist India (Chicago, 2008), and The Cult of Pure Crystal Mountain. Popular Pilgrimage & Visionary Landscape in Southeast Tibet (New York & Oxford, 1999).