“Ritual and Writing in the Borderlands : bilingual and biscriptual inscriptions in Yunnan” – 10 July 2024

Jul 3, 2024 | Other news

Demi-Journée d’études
Campus Condorcet, Centre de Colloques, salle 50
10 July 2024

Ritual and Writing in the Borderlands : bilingual and biscriptual inscriptions in Yunnan

Rituel et écriture aux frontières : inscriptions bilingues et biscriptuels à Yunnan

organized by
Jan Houben
Direction of studies: Sources et histoire de la tradition sanskrite
Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, PSL, Sciences Historiques et Philologiques

For several millennia, Asia has witnessed the development of two major neighbouring cultural, intellectual and political centers, India and China, both with a wide sphere of influence. Surprisingly, although they are neighbours, direct contact and exchange between these two major centers have remained limited. Linguistically-typologically, the main languages of India, Sanskritic and Dravidian, and of China, including classical and modern Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese), are very different. Also the writing systems and the cultures of writing developed in the Indian and in the Chinese domains are very different: both the Sanskritic languages and the Dravidian languages have been written in one system of writing, the system of Brāhmī and Brāhmī-based scripts, which record the phonetic form of the words with precision. Writing in China has a much longer continuous history than in India and has evolved to a logographic system. With regard to the history of writing from the third century B.C. onwards, we would expect to find in between these two centers of civilization, India and China, some areas where the spheres of influence meet or overlap. Did the encounter between these spheres of influence ever lead to bilingual or biscriptual documents? Yunnan, currently in China, is one of the rather rare areas where such records (in approximative Sanskrit and Chinese) are found and on this Demi-Journée d’études we will study some of these objects, their inscriptions and scripts, from a multidisciplinary perspective.


  • 14h-14h15 Jan HOUBEN (Paris): Introduction : Ritual and Writing in the Borderlands : multilingual and multiscriptual records in Yunnan
  • 14h15 – 15h Ping WANG (UNSW, Sydney) : A Pillar of Dharma, A Bridge of Cultures: The Dhāraṇī Pillar and Intercultural Buddhism in a Maṇḍala
  • 15h15 – 15h45 break
  • 15h45 – 16h30 Saraju RATH (Leiden) and Jan HOUBEN (Paris): Indic scripts in the borderlands: Siddhamātṛkā in India, Siddham (悉曇Xī tán) in Yunnan
  • 16h45 Conclusions and perspectives

Demi-Journée d’études organized on the occasion of the stay of Ping WANG (Associate Professor of classical Chinese literature and philosophy in the School of Humanities and Languages, the University of New South Wales (UNSW Sydney), Australia) in Paris, as researcher in residence at the Maison Suger, FMSH – https://www.fmsh.fr/en/researchers/ping-wang

info & registration : johannes.houben@ephe.psl.eu

Download the program >>