BOGEL, Cynthea (Kyushu University): “Representing the Unknown: The Eighth-Century Pedestal of Yakushiji’s Master of Medicine Buddha”
FODDE-REGUER, A. A. (Saint Joseph’s University): “Tortoise Shells as Cross-Cultural Compass: Chinese and Tibetan Similarities”
HAYAKAWA, Hisashi (Kyoto University): “Ancient solar activities recorded in literature”
HUNTINGDON, Eric (Princeton University): “Buddhist Cosmology in Bhutanese Murals: An Iconographic Understanding of the Negotiation Between Kālacakra and Abhidharmakośa Cosmologies”
ISAHAYA, Yoichi (Tokyo University): “Tallying with Heaven: the Fu-tian 符天 as an umbrella term for the ‘western’ astral science on the Silk Road”
KAIFU, Norio (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan): “宇宙にまつわるアジアの神話・伝説と宇宙観”
KOYAMA, Katsuji (Kyoto University): “A Supernova in the Heian period – the historical record and modern astronomy”
LOWE, Bryan (Vanderbilt University): “Poeticized Cosmologies: Post-Mortem Realms and Dedicatory Prayers in Ancient Japan”
MORGAN, Daniel (CNRS-Paris VII): “A Sphere unto Itself: the Death and Medieval Framing of the History of Chinese Cosmography”
POSTMA, Cindy (Independent Scholar): “How a Confucian World-view Integrated New Knowledge of Europe and Southeast Asia within a Traditional Framework”
SEN, Tansen (Baruch College, CUNY): “Beyond Science: Indian-Chinese Astronomy in the Popular Realm”
SKILLING, Peter (Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient, Bangkok): “Cosmology at the Crossroads: the Harvard Traibhumi Manuscript”
VAN GOETHEM, Ellen (Kyushu University): “Fengshui Protection: The Four Mythical Beasts and Shinto Shrines”
YANO, Michio (Kyoto Sangyo University): “宿曜道にみられるインドの天文学と占星術”
Saint Joseph’s University, USA
Title: Tortoise Shells as Cross-Cultural Compass: Chinese and Tibetan Similarities
Abstract: The aim of this presentation is to focus on the similarities between two excavated manuals detailing how to divine the names and surnames of thieves as well as their locations based on the body of a tortoise as compass. One of the texts is in Chinese (found in Yinwan tomb 6) and one is in Tibetan (found in the Dunhuang caves) and the two date a few hundred years apart. Two versions of the same tortoise manual points to possible dissemination of such texts over time and space in early and medieval China. The creator of the supernatural tortoise diagram shapes the way manual-users see the world and cosmos, and by extension create conventions and standards of cosmological phenomena. The similarities between the two manuals shall be explored in detail and connections to early forms of astral-science shall be made.
Vanderbilt University, USA
Title: Poeticized Cosmographies: Post-Mortem Realms and Dedicatory Prayers in Ancient Japan
Abstract: This paper uses dedicatory prayers inscribed in colophons to Buddhist scripture to reassess cosmology in ancient Japan. It focuses in particular on post-mortem realms such as heavens and pure lands. The way the cosmos is expressed in prayers problematizes traditional depictions of Japanese religions, which often neatly divide worldviews into traditions such as Buddhism, Daoism, and Shintō. In contrast to models that adopt a bird’s eye view from which religious traditions are allegedly clearly defined, I take a ground level approach to explore how individuals expressed cosmology in ritual settings. I show that the cosmology as depicted in prayers drew from diverse textual sources including Chinese literary classics and Buddhist scripture. For example, a prayer sponsored by Empress Shōtoku depicts Vairocana’s Realm of the Flower Treasury as a land filled with Chinese imperial imagery derived from court culture and makes allusions to texts such as Zhuangzi. This layering of cosmologies and knowledge both informs and constitutes of religious praxis. At the same time, prayers were by no means random collections of materials. Rather, their composition was governed by rules regarding literary genre and ritual conventions related to the context in which they were uttered and norms adopted from the continent. Poetic rules from the Sinitic tradition gave birth to new visions of the order of the universe, worldviews that did not exist in Indic traditions, but became part of a shared East Asian cosmography. I will suggest that cosmography is, at least in this case, less a scientific practice and more a poetic one.
Princeton University, USA
Title: Buddhist Cosmology in Bhutanese Murals: An Iconographic Negotiation Between Kālacakra and Abhidharmakośa Cosmologies.
Abstract: Recent Buddhism in Bhutan devotes equal attention to the mutually contradictory cosmologies of the Kālacakra and Abhidharmakośa systems. Each of these models is considered canonical and serves as the basis for important textual traditions, scientific analyses, and ritual functions. While both of these cosmological models were imported into Bhutan, many Dzongs (fortress-monasteries) prominently display cosmological imagery relating to both of these systems at their entrances, revealing the prime importance of cosmological thought in Bhutanese Buddhism and the equal respect that both of these systems receive. Close inspection of these murals actually reveals a much more complex relationship between the two models: each type of cosmological image actually borrows specific attributes from the other, such that Abhidharmakośa cosmoses distinctly utilize the visual language of the Kālacakra versions, and vice versa. Some of the most recent examples also show subtle evidence of a third influence—the Western scientific perspective. While textual sources allow one important type of analysis of this kind of cultural negotiation, such visual imagery provides unique and otherwise unknowable insights into the ways in which competing cosmologies can be compromised and mediated in the minds of practitioners.
Ellen VAN GOETHEM
Kyushu University, Japan
Title: Fengshui Protection: The Four Mythical Beasts and Shinto Shrines
Abstract: This paper presents a discussion of the appearance and context of fengshui-related symbolism in Japan. Attention will be focused on the four directional deities (四神) and their associated symbolism from their initial appearance on the Japanese archipelago until the present day, in an attempt to show how this symbolism became fully assimilated to the point that it appeared in (early) modern times in contexts no longer consciously associated with their “original” practices or was fully absorbed into contexts that are deemed quintessentially Japanese. To illustrate this point, this paper will present a case-study of six well-known Shinto shrines, Dazaifu Tenmangū in Dazaifu, and Heian Jingū, Kamigamo jinja, Matsuo taisha, Yasaka jinja, and Jōnangū in Kyoto.
By doing so, this paper will argue that the four directional animals preserved their ancient Chinese role of “multivalent signs”, susceptible to many applications, interpretations, meanings and values. As symbols, i.e. visual depictions of underlying concepts, the four divine beasts adapted to (or, better still, were appropriated by) changing circumstances and new ideas to appear in new and entirely different contexts.
University of Tokyo, Japan
Title: Tallying with Heaven: the Fu-tian 符天 as an umbrella term for the “western” astral sciences on the Silk
Abstract: This paper aims to provide a new insight into an “unofficial”—but significant—astronomical system compiled in the middle of the Tang period (780–783), the Fu-tian li 符天曆 [Astronomical System Tallying with Heaven]. Although this system was never adopted as an official system by any Chinese dynasty, it had influence over the officials of the Astronomical Bureau in its continual use until the Yuan period (1271–1368), and became a kind of canonical text for the Buddhist school of astrology called Sukuyôdô 宿曜道 in the Heian period (794–1192), Japan. Despite its obvious historical presence, we have no way of addressing the Fu-tian li, but through citation and some fragments. As far as the extant sources are concerned, this system was used for the lu-ming 禄命 divination that developed in conflation between the “western” horoscopy and the Chinese indigenous celestial divination from the Tang period (618–690, 705–907) at the latest. In this regard, a 10th-century Chinese divination text (Dunhuang fragment P. 4071) has considerable potential for deepening our understanding of the Fu-tian li due to its length and referring to the system. By a combination of philological and astronomical inquiries into the text, we reach the conclusion that various elements from different astral traditions are constructing a harmonious whole under the name of the “fu-tian.” The term “fu-tian” does not represent the single specific system as recorded in the Standard Histories of the Chinese Dynasties, but it covers a broad category of astronomical systems for the lu-ming divination. It was compiled in the Central Asian milieu, where
Kyoto University, Japan
Title: Records of sunspot and aurora during CE 9601279 in the Chinese chronicle of the Sòng dynasty
Abstract: Records of sunspots and aurora observations in pre-telescopic historical documents can provide useful information about solar activity in the past. This is also true for extreme space weather events, as they may have been recorded as large sunspots observed by the naked eye or as low-latitude auroras. In this talk, the results of a comprehensive survey of records of sunspots and auroras in 宋史 Sòngshǐ, a Chinese formal chronicle spanning the 10th to 13th century. This chronicle contains a record of continuous observations with well-formatted reports conducted as a policy of the government. A brief comparison of the frequency of observations of sunspots and auroras and the observations of radioisotopes as an indicator of the solar activity during corresponding periods is provided. This talk is the first step of our project in which we survey and compile the records of sunspots and auroras in historical documents from various locations and languages, ultimately providing it to the science community as online data.
Kyushu University, Japan
Title: Representing the Unknown: The Eighth-Century Pedestal of Yakushiji’s Master of Medicine Buddha
Abstract: Bogel will examine selected material and conceptual aspects of cosmology to elucidate the meaning of an eighth-century bronze statue of the Healing Buddha (Sanskrit: Bhaiṣajyaguru; Japanese: Yakushi) at Yakushiji monastery in Nara, Japan. The unusual figures and motifs on the pedestal of the Buddha, unique in East Asia, have prompted decades of scholarly debate. Chinese animal-gods of the four directions—associated with places and rites for which an orderly and auspicious cosmos is sought—are cast in relief among curiously posed foreign figures who appear to represent convertees to Buddhism, and yet fulfill an unresolved function on the pedestal. Figures and motifs associated with East Asian as well as Roman mortuary culture cannot be wholly explained as the result of Silk Road transmissions. In order to understand whether the Yakushiji buildings and central icon were relocated from the seventh-century Fujiwara capital to Nara, or whether either or both were newly made in Nara during the eighth century, Bogel considers evolving notions of cosmology and its representation as they relate to governance, patronage, cultural exchange, and the functions of Buddhism in ancient Japan.
Daniel Patrick MORGAN
ERC project SAW (CNRS – Paris 7), France
Title: A sphere unto itself: the death and medieval framing of the history of Chinese cosmography
Abstract: This paper attempts to explain the lack of dialogue between Indian and Chinese cosmologies in the astral sciences of the Six Dynasties and Tang. The history of cosmology in China, we are told, died in the eighth century, the final blow having been delivered by the monk Yixing. Almost everything we know about this history derives from three sources: Shen Yue and Li Chunfeng’s respective “heavenly patterns” monographs (5th & 7th cent.) and Gautama Siddhārtha’s Kaiyuan zhanjing (729). The former, I argue, impart history with a neat telos that survives to our day: the history of cosmology is the history of instrumentation (two-dimensional diagrams and gnomon planes vs. three-dimensional sphere instruments); there were three true “schools,” but the contest was settled almost as soon as it began in the second century, the subsequent centuries being defined by irresponsible ideas that threatened the rightful winner. The success of Shen and Li’s frame, I argue, admitted no viable intellectual place for foreign ideas in their histories. Shifting perspective, I look at how Buddhists engaged with this discourse, examining the case of astronomers Gautama and Yixing, the dilettante Liang Wudi (r. 464-549), and the encyclopedist Daoshi (7th cent).
Title: Beyond Science: Indian-Chinese Astronomy in the Popular Realm
Abstract: This paper will examine the impact of South Asian astronomical ideas on Chinese religious and artistic traditions. It will focus on the representation of astronomical objects on the ceilings of eleventh and twelfth century Chinese tombs found in Xuanhua district of Hebei Province. Divided into three parts, the first section of the paper will outline the various ways in which Indic ideas on astronomy, astrology, and cosmology were transmitted to China prior to the emergence of these drawings. It will explain the role of religious preachers and temporal agendas that resulted in the syncretism of Indian and Chinese beliefs, understandings, and representations of the cosmos during the Tang dynasty (618-907). The second part will analyze the significance and value of the astronomical drawing painted on the Xuanhua tomb ceilings, particularly in comprehending the complex connections between the study of astronomical phenomenon and their manifestations in the popular realm. The concluding section of the paper will argue that the transmission of astronomical and cosmological ideas from India to China and their employment in the popular realm demonstrate the overlapping facets of science and religion in the ancient world.
Kyoto University, Japan
Title: A supernova in the Heian period – the historical record and modern astronomy.
Abstract: SN1006 is a remnant (SNR) of a supernova explosion occurred in 1006 in the Heian period. Supernova has been called as a guest-star (kyakusei) in the oriental countries. This kyakusei was recorded by a descendent of Abe Seimei, a legend of Onmyo-do, and was reported to Emperor Ichijo for the advice of his political decision (Tenmon-misso). Onmyo-do is a kind of oriental “philosophy”, which tries to describe every phenomena in the Universe. Any heavenly events are important for the emperor’s policy, because he has been regarded as a heavenly being. The kyakusei reports in Tenmon-misso was re-memorized by a court poet Fuziwara Teika in his private diary Meigetsuki. This report was reviewed to a popular astronomical magazine of USA in 1934 by an amateur astronomer Iba Yasuaki. This review was a big surprise, because no historical record had been found in any literatures of the Western countries. This report is not only an old historical record, but more importantly plays a key role for the deep understanding of supernovae and neutron stars. I will talk about the old history and Omnyo-do, which brought delicious fruits in the modern astronomy.
Cornell University, USA
Title: How a Confucian world-view integrated new knowledge of Europe and Southeast Asia within a traditional
Abstract: In a seminal, early 18th century text, Arai Hakuseki (1657 – 1725), Tokugawa era (1603 -1868), Confucian scholar, had introduced a new world-view. More than just an account of how the world looked according to a 17th century, European world map, _Seiyô kibun_ (1715) was cosmographic, replacing the Buddhist schematic of a universe centered on Mount Meru, surrounded by rivers, continents, and seas. In the current presentation, I introduce a Tokugawa Confucian world view, and a conversation from the era about the world and the skies. Astronomical studies in Japan began from the 1590’s and books of Chinese mathematica; further study was impeded by policy and Confucian concerns about the rightness of an inquiry into the heavens and earth, until 1720, with an easing of restrictions upon the import of books. I compare to the Japanese case a parallel Confucian culture, Korea, for which, under King Sejong (1397 – 1450) in the 15th century, calendrical and astronomical knowledge was promoted as a realization of traditional political ideology. I conclude by making a case for the role of Hakuseki and Tokugawa Japanese Confucians in a history of science of Japan, making reference also to Korea and Korean Confucianism over the same era.
Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient, Bangkok
Title: Cosmology at the Crossroads: the Harvard Traibhumi Manuscript
Abstract: Cosmology was one of the important sciences of the pre-modern period. In Thailand we find several types of cosmological treatises; in the breadth and depth of their subject matter, they are source books or encyclopaedias on ethics and metaphysics, on time and space, and on the rich narrative traditions of Buddhism. They describe Nirvana, the heavens and the hells, and the worlds of humans, animals, and spirits. Cosmology is a functional science. Individuals and social groups situate themselves in the world by mapping human psychology and moral action against wide-ranging physical and temporal landscapes; cosmology breathes meaning into the rhythm of the ritual and calendrical years. Cosmologism animates the universe with deities and demons, with genii and spirits. Siamese intellectuals devised complex charts that integrate the visual image and the written text into a meaningful whole, painted in bright palettes on the broad panels of accordion manuscripts made of paper. The earliest examples are from the seventeenth to eighteenth centuries when the city of Ayutthaya was a vibrant and cosmopolitan centre of Southeast Asian culture. Cosmological maps continued to be produced up to the early twentieth century. The paper introduces an illustrated Traibhumi manuscript from the collections of Harvard University. By an unknown artist, the beautifully illustrated Harvard Traibhumi is one of the latest examples of the genre, dating to about the end of the nineteenth century. Poised at the intersection of the old world and modernity, it presents a condensed description of the “Three Worlds” with paintings that gracefully introduce perspective and the vocabulary of western illustration into the traditional themes of Thai artistry. The talk will give an overview of the Siamese cosmological writing and illustration over a period of four hundred years. It attempts to situate Thai, and Buddhist, cosmology in the intellectual history and worldview.The manuscript will be published in celebration of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand’s Sixtieth Birth Anniversary.
Kyoto Sangyo University, Japan
Abstract:『源氏物語』の「桐壺」に「宿曜(すくえう)のかしこき道の人」という言葉があるように、平安時代に「宿曜道」という占いが流行していた。紫式部の同時代に権勢をふるった藤原道長の『御堂関白記』は 具注暦という暦に記入されたものであるが、その日付の部分には宿と曜があらかじめ書き込まれてい た。道長も宿曜道によって行動していたと思われる。この宿曜道は弘法大師空海が大陸から持ち帰った『宿曜経』に基づいたもので、その「宿」はインド古来の太陰占星術の27宿であり、「曜」は新しい要 素である西洋起源の7惑星である。しかし『宿曜経』見られる数理的な要素は曜日の計算法だけであり、 惑星の位置の計算法は述べられていない。中国系の陰陽道と対抗するためには惑星の位置計算が必要で あったが、そのために後になって導入されたのが中央アジア起源の『七曜攘災訣』であった。これは惑 星位置推算暦の役割を果たした。さらに惑星の位置を数式によって求めるために『符天暦』も導入され たが、現存するのは太陽運動の断片のみである。占星術は仏教の教えと相容れるものではないが、その 自然科学的な一面が密教によって取り入れられ日本において独特の発展と変容をとげた。本講演ではイ ンドの天文学と占星術が仏教によって日本で生き続けた様子を明らかにする。
National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), Japan