Dr. Henrik Sorensen changed his title into: "ESOTERIC BUDDHISM AT THE CROSS-ROADS: RELIGIOUS DYNAMICS AT DUNHUANG, 9–10TH CENTURIES".
Since the research consortium in Bochum is concerned to untangle also building blocks that constitute religious transfer processes, this workshop aims to explore the case study of the formation of Buddhisms, particularly Tantric Buddhism, in Eastern Central Asia. It seeks to investigate local contributions to Buddhism as the tradition spread through a network of Buddhist hubs along the Eastern Central Asia between the 9th and the 13th centuries – a period that was a time of creative upheaval between the demise of the great empires of the Uighurs (840), the Tibetans (848) and the Chinese (fall of Tang in 906) and the Mongolian conquest of large parts of Eurasia (ca. 1227-1241). During these centuries of local rule at various oases (e.g. Dunhuang, Guazhou, Liangzhou, etc.) different ethnic groups such as the Tibetans, Chinese, Uighurs and Tanguts contributed to the development of Buddhisms. The workshop will examine the relations and power relations between these ethnic groups and various oases in the formation of local expressions of Buddhism that later partly turned into mainstream in Tibet and China. In other words: the workshop would test the hypothesis if the particular space and time of interest were prerequisites to allow for a creative development of Buddhisms. To narrow the perspectives, an emphasis should be on textual and visual transfer processes of Buddhist traditions and on the different ethnic cultural agents. The workshop is thus organised in four sections: (1) an introductory part “circumstances for transfer processes along the Silk Road” to give an overview of the how political, economy and cultural factors shaped Central Asian oases as Buddhist hubs; (2) a section on “textual transfer” to elaborate on textual transmission – also between the different ethnic groups and oases; (3) a section on “visual transfer” to explore the making of Buddhist art at various sites; and (4) a section on “transfer agents” that would illustrate how Chinese, Tibetans, Uighurs and Tanguts contributed to particular local textual and/or visual forms of Buddhism.