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Transcultural Narrative Exchanges of Buddhist Birth Stories in Literary and Visual Cultures between Gandhara and Central Asia: A Case Study of the Pūrvayoga of Sudaṣṇa (Viśvantara Jātaka)


Jason Neelis, Wilfrid Laurier University

Datum und Zeit

13. April 2022, 15:00–16:00 Uhr

Ort (online und vor Ort)

Bitte registrieren Sie sich für die Online-Teilnahme via Zoom über das Anmeldeformular.

Die Vorlesung findet zudem als Präsenzveranstaltung statt: Universität Zürich, Hörsaal SOD-1-104, Schönberggasse 9, 8001 Zürich


Forschungsprojekt «Sino-Indo-Iranica rediviva», Asien-Orient-Institut – Sinologie


Stories and storytellers circulated via long-distance trade routes between South Asia, Central Asia, and China along with traders in exotic commodities. Buddhist birth stories labelled as Pūrvayogas and Avadānas in Gāndhārī manuscripts from the first century CE provide very early literary evidence for the development of narrative genres, while a global survey of so- called Jātakas in Gandharan art reflects alternative patterns of selection. Somewhat surprisingly, the only attested example of an overlap between literary and visual cultures of Gandharan rebirth narratives is a Gāndhārī version of the Sudaṣṇa Pūrvayoga, which corresponds with depictions of the widely-known Viśvantara Jātaka in Gandharan sculptures. This talk will aim to look beyond Gandhara at versions of this narrative transmitted in a Sogdian Buddhist text and localized in Gandhara by Chinese visitors, who drew upon their own sources. The transmission of visual narratives of Buddhist birth stories at nodes of Upper Indus capillary networks and in the Tarim Basin will also be examined in order to showcase transcultural exchanges of Buddhist images in different media.