Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

The historical turn: How Chinese Buddhist travelogues changed Western perception of Buddhism

Deeg, Max ORCID: 2018. The historical turn: How Chinese Buddhist travelogues changed Western perception of Buddhism. Hualin Journal of International Buddhist Studies 1 (1) , pp. 43-75. 10.15239/hijbs.01.01.02

[thumbnail of hualin1.1_deeg_final.pdf]
PDF - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (418kB) | Preview


Information about Buddhism was scarce and vague at best in the West until the beginning of the nineteenth century. The first Orientalists studying Indian sources had to rely on Hindu texts written in Sanskrit (e.g. Purāṇas) which portrayed the Buddha as an avatāra of the Hindu god Viṣṇu. The situation changed with the discovery of the Pāli texts from Śrī Laṅkā through scholars like George Turnour and the decipherment of the Aśokan inscriptions through James Prinsep by which the historical dimension of the religion became evident. The final confirmation of the historicity of the Buddha and the religion founded by him was taken, however, from the records of Chinese Buddhist travellers (Faxian, Xuanzang, Yijing) who had vis-ited the major sacred places of Buddhism in India and collected other information about the history of the religion. This paper will discuss the first Western translations of these travelogues and their reception in the scholarly discourse of the period and will suggest that the historical turn to which it led had a strong impact on the study and reception of Buddhism—in a way the start of Buddhist Studies as a discipline.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Publisher: Cambria Press
ISSN: 2576-2923
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 29 March 2021
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2022 09:36

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics