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Literature as Material for Field Research: New Potential of Area Studies Explored by Literature (Materials)

The Center for Southeast Asian Studies in Kyoto University (CSEAS) has more than 100 Mahayana Buddhist scriptures discovered in a Buddhist temple in Bangkok, Thailand.

If you wonder why Mahayana Buddhist scriptures discovered from a Thai temple, you are very familiar with the religions in Thailand and Southeast Asia. Although Thailand is known a country of Theravada Buddhism, there are some Mahayana Buddhist temples in the country, and they are visited by overseas Chinese, Chinese living in Thailand, overseas Vietnamese, and Thai people.

Some of the materials introduced in this movie are sutras written in Chinese characters. Just as like Japanese people how to read Chinese characters, some sutras in Chinese characters have ruby notations in Thai or Vietnamese for pronouncing in their own languages. Meanwhile, some sutras are written in Vietnamese characters, called Chu Nom, which were originally invested by borrowing from Chinese characters. In addition to Buddhist scriptures, there are also pieces of texts which write Taoist and Feng Shui incantations. It is estimated that these materials were published or transcribed in Vietnam, Thailand and China between the late 19th and mid-20th centuries.

In temples, various materials such as Buddhist statues, paintings, and sutras have been stored over a long history. By studying and researching these materials, we expect that we can understand various things such as when, where, and how Mahayana Buddhism spread from East Asia to Southeast Asia, and who believed in it.

In this movie, the three experts will talk about these materials from their own research perspectives.

ONO, Mikiko(CSEAS)

Collaborators:
SHIMIZU, Masaaki (OSAKA UNIVERSITY)
KOJIMA, Hiroyuki (UNIVERSITY OF TOKYO)

The cast profile is at the time of shooting.