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Dunhuang And Central Asia (With An Appendix On Dunhuang Manuscript Resources)

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on the city Dunhuang along with an appendix on Dunhuang manuscript resources. Situated on the Silk Route on the northwest frontier of the Chinese Empire, the oasis of Dunhuang served as a pivotal site for trade and cultural interaction for over two millennia. This unique position enabled the creation of a sacred site of startling brilliance - the nearby Mogao Grottoes. Buddhist texts predominate but there are also documents representing religions from Nestorian Christianity to Daoism; the types of manuscripts range from writing exercises and circulars for lay associations to monastic economic records, many of which contain colophons and marginalia providing vital information about a wide array of people and their activities. Evidence from Dunhuang demonstrates the complex use of mandalas for overlapping purposes; the rite of repentance, consecration, and ordination could all use the same mandalas, in contrast to later Shingon differentiations between pure and mixed esoteric practices.

Keywords: Chinese empire; Dunhuang manuscript resources; mandalas; Mogao Grottoes



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