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Material Culture and Asian Religions : Text, Image, Object - Benjamin Fleming

Material Culture and Asian Religions

Text, Image, Object

By: Benjamin Fleming (Editor), Richard Mann (Editor)


Published: 27th March 2014
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Published: 26th March 2014
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Traditionally, research on the history of Asian religions has been marked by a bias for literary evidence, privileging canonical texts penned in 'classical' languages. Not only has a focus on literary evidence shaped the dominant narratives about the religious histories of Asia, in both scholarship and popular culture, but it has contributed to the tendency to study different religious traditions in relative isolation from one another. Today, moreover, historical work is often based on modern textual editions and, increasingly, on electronic databases. What may be lost, in the process, is the visceral sense of the text as artifact - as a material object that formed part of a broader material culture, in which the boundaries between religious traditions were sometimes more fluid than canonical literature might suggest.

This volume brings together specialists in a variety of Asian cultures to discuss the methodological challenges involved in integrating material evidence for the reconstruction of the religious histories of South, Southeast, Central, and East Asia. By means of specific 'test cases,' the volume explores the importance of considering material and literary evidence in concert. What untold stories do these sources help us to recover? How might they push us to reevaluate historical narratives traditionally told from literary sources? By addressing these questions from the perspectives of different subfields and religious traditions, contributors map out the challenges involved in interpreting different types of data, assessing the problems of interpretation distinct to specific types of material evidence (e.g., coins, temple art, manuscripts, donative inscriptions) and considering the issues raised by the different patterns in the preservation of such evidence in different locales. Special attention is paid to newly-discovered and neglected sources; to our evidence for trade, migration, and inter-regional cultural exchange; and to geographical locales that served as "contact zones" connecting cultures. In addition, the chapters in this volume represent the rich range of religious traditions across Asia - including Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Shinto, and Chinese religions, as well as Islam and eastern Christianities.

"The last few years have seen growing efforts in attempting to reconstruct the social context in which ideas have been produced. This great collection of articles powerfully demonstrates how religions, philosophical doctrines, and literary works cannot be understood any longer as abstract entities developing in a vacuum, but rather as human products that have a tangible dimension and speak of the same complex realities documented in the material culture of Asia." - Pia Brancaccio, Drexel University, USA

Introduction Benjamin Fleming and Richard Mann Part 1: The Visceral Word: Text as Object 1. Bamboo and the Production of Philosophy: A Hypothesis about a Shift in Writing and Thought in Early China Dirk Meyer 2. Seeing in between the Space: The Aura of Writing and the Development of Manuscript Culture in early Medieval South Asia Jinah Kim 3. An Ingestible Scripture: Early Debates on Touching, Dissolving, and Eating the Qur'an Travis Zadeh Part 2: Rereading Image, Place, and History 4. Goddesses in Text and Stone: Temples of the Yoginis in Light of Tantric and Puraa'aic Literature Shaman Hatley 5. Encountering Ascetics On and Beyond the Indian Temple Wall Tamara Sears 6. Ninsho, Ryohen, and the 25 Bodhisattvas of Hakone Hank Glassman 7. On the Date of the Golden Window in Patan, Nepal Gudrun Buhnemann 8. Icons and Idols in the Islamic Past: Seeing the Religious Image in Historical Account Jamal Elias Part 3: Social Powers and Sacred Economies 9. Marketing Miracles: Buddhism, Commercialism, and Entertainment in Early Modern Japan Kevin Bond 10. Textualizing Material Religion: Stupa Renovation as a Trope of Authority in Tibetan Views of the Kathmandu Valley Stupa Amy Holmes-Tagchungdarpa 11. Amulets and the Material Culture of Modern Thai Buddhism Justin McDaniel 12. Gift-Giving as Soteriology and Sociology: Buddhist Kings and Brahmin Donees in Medieval Bengal Benjamin J. Fleming Part 4: Trade, Contact Zones, and the Transmission of Material Cultures 13. Gandharan Materials and Manuscripts from Contact Zones between South Asia and Central Asia: Crucial Evidence for Patterns of Buddhist Transmission Jason Neelis 14. Of Skanda-Kumara, Visakha and Mahasena: The Impact of Kusaa'aa Numismatics on the Transformation of Skanda Richard Mann 15. Eurasian Trade and the Connections between 'West' and 'East': Reconsidering Early Christian References to Asia Annette Yoshiko Reed

ISBN: 9780415843782
ISBN-10: 0415843782
Series: Routledge Research in Religion, Media and Culture
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 308
Published: 27th March 2014
Publisher: Taylor & Francis Ltd
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 22.9 x 15.2  x 2.54
Weight (kg): 0.59
Edition Number: 1