The Middle Period and Outside Contacts
Faxian was the earliest Chinese Buddhist monk to return to China after making the pilgrimage to India to study Sanskrit and the Buddhist faith, and collect scriptures. His journey took place between 399 and 414 CE. This new translation of Faxian’s travel account into English, prepared together with Dr Robert Harding, will be the first scholarly translation of the text into English since the pioneering versions produced by Legge and Giles in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
The Dunhuang manuscripts have been discovered over a century ago and since then generated an impressive volume of research. Looking at the corpus today, one of its most astonishing features is the linguistic diversity of the material, manifested in a mixture of languages and scripts. There are texts in over twenty different languages and scripts, including combinations of these.
This project focuses on Tangut (Xixia) translations of Chinese military classics. The invention of the Tangut script in 1036 was a key event in the legitimisation of the Tangut state, which had a strong incentive to ascert its independence from the Song empire. The earliest translation projects that utilised the new script were largely Buddhist in nature but from the early 12th century on a number of secular Chinese texts were also translated into Tangut.