Nanzhao-Dali Workshop: Buddhism in China’s southwest frontier and surrounding regions

28 November, 2022

The Nanzhao and Dali Kingdoms prospered throughout China’s Southwest frontier between the eighth and thirteenth centuries. Nanzhao-Dali coexisted with Tang-Song China, Tibet and the surrounding Southeast Asian civilisations. Buddhism was an important component of the Kingdoms, with the capital understood as a centre for Buddhist learning. For this workshop, we have invited scholars, curators, and researchers from museums and institutions to share their relevant research on Nanzhao-Dali and the surrounding regions from different aspects. We will take some in-depth looks at the material culture, archaeology and history of Buddhism in the region to gain a better understanding of the development of Buddhism in Nanzhao-Dali. We hope you will join us!

LOCATION: Room 303, Lipman Building, 2 Sandyford Rd, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8SB

CONTACT: [email protected]

The International Research Centre for the History and Culture of Nanzhao and Dali Kingdoms (IRC), established in 2019, is a collaborative venture between Northumbria University, UK, Yunnan Provincial Museum, China, and the Woon Brothers Foundation, Singapore. The aim of the IRC is to promote academic research into the history and culture of the Nanzhao and Dali Kingdoms (dating from 653-937CE and 937-1253CE, respectively), located largely in today’s Yunnan province in southwest China.

University of Oxford Lecture Series in Buddhist Studies 2022-2023


Lecture Room 1 at 5pm 

Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies 

Pusey Lane 

Oxford, OX1 2LE 

All Welcome 

All enquiries: [email protected] 

Michaelmas Term 2022 

Monday 7 November 2022 

Ligeia Lugli, The Mangalam Research Centre, Berkeley, California. 

Modelling the Dharma: advances in Buddhist Sanskrit Corpus linguistics and Natural Language Processing 

This talk introduces a new corpus of Buddhist Sanskrit literature that is being developed at the Mangalam Research Centre (Berkeley, California). After presenting the corpus and some of the problems that it poses, the talk will outline the motivations that led to its creation and the methodological avenues that it opens up. It will briefly report on the experimentations with different Word Embedding Models for Buddhist Sanskrit that are currently underway at the Mangalam Research Centre. It then offers some practical examples of how the corpus can be used for Buddhist studies.  

Ligeia Lugli holds a PhD in Study of Religions from SOAS, where she worked on the Mahāyāna discourse on language. Since 2016 she is Head of Lexicography at the Mangalam Research Centre (Berkeley, California), where she directs the Buddhist Translators Workbench, a project aimed at creating digital resources for the study of the Buddhist Sanskrit vocabulary. She is currently also leading a project on Buddhist Sanskrit Natural Language Processing, in collaboration with researchers from the Jožef Stefan Institute in Ljubljana, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. At the same time, she is working on the development of a Buddhist Sanskrit corpus, with funding from the Khyentse Foundation, and a programme of education in digital lexicography at the State University of São Paulo, with funding from Brazil’s Ministry of Education. 

Monday 28 November 2022 

Andrew Skilton, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Oxford 

The Prohibition of Anal Surgery in the Vinaya 

This talk unpacks the prohibition on anal surgery in the bhesajjakhanda/bhaiṣajyavastu section of the Vinaya, revealing a detailed familiarity with the dangers of such surgery, the risks of sexual misinterpretation and the importance of focusing in on technical terminology when translating Buddhist texts.  

Andrew Skilton conducts research on Mahāyāna and Vinaya literature in Sanskrit and Pali, which he teaches in the faculty. He is interested in the interpretation of texts. He has held posts in Cardiff, King’s College, London, and the Bodleian Library.   

Buddhist Identities in Twenty-First Century Asia (University of Cambridge)

April 8–9th 2022, Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge.

With support from the Global Humanities Initiative at the University of Cambridge, the Faculty of Divinity and Selwyn College invite scholars and students to a conference devoted to the theme of Buddhist identities across twenty-first century Asia. Over two days, invited and selected speakers will address the evolving status of Asian Buddhist identities as they are constructed, negotiated and intersect with other commitments and affiliations in the globalized, technologized twenty-first century. Speakers will explore the character, changes and challenges of Buddhist identities in a range of contemporary Asian cultures, considering South, Southeast, Central and East Asian Buddhist contexts.For registration and the complete schedule, visit:

We welcome and encourage in-person attendance by all interested parties, but request that all in-person attendees register by April 1st 2022. The conference will also be broadcast via Zoom. The conference has some funds available to support student travel to the event; to request this, or to make other enquiries, please email [email protected].

Current Research Project: Dr.Hiroko Kawanami Awarded Robert H. N. Ho Research Grant

Dr Hiroko Kawanami was recently awarded the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Collaborative Research Grant in Buddhist Studies(2014-16) in conjunction with American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS).
Her research project is titled: “Communal Jurisdiction of Non-ordained Female Renunciants in the Southern Buddhist Tradition: Myanmar-Burma, Thailand, and Sri Lanka”.
The Foundation received 132 applications globally in four categories, and through rigorous peer review, 23 applicants/projects were selected. This was their inaugural international competition and two were selected from the UK.!/press/74

Current Research Project: Building Buddhism in England

Dr Emma Tomalin and Caroline Starkey (University of Leeds, Centre for Religion and Public Life) are working on an English Heritage funded research project about Buddhist buildings in contemporary England. These buildings are currently under-researched, yet provide a fascinating lens through which to view the development of Buddhist communities on these shores.

The project runs from September 2013 to September 2014, and we will use both interviews and site visits, alongside an online survey, to gather our data. Our interest is in both the fabric of the buildings and the built landscape of Buddhism in England, and also the significance of the buildings to various communities. The results of our research will be compiled into a report for English Heritage, and also an academic journal article for publication.

We regularly blog about our research at – and here you can find out about each of our research sites, see our photographs, and keep informed about the online survey when it is launched.

You can also contact [email protected] or [email protected] for more information

Current Research Project: The Little Book of Buddhist Humour

John Negru (Karma Yonten Gyatso), publisher of Sumeru Books, and Charles Prebish are collecting a series of anecdotal stories for inclusion in a book that they are editing called “The Little Book of Buddhist Humor.” In difficult times, they feel that the Buddhist world has the opportunity to contribute to and inject some happy, Buddhist-inspired humor into our everyday lives.

As such, they are inviting any of you who have clever, funny, silly, and laughable stories that you have experienced in your personal and/or professional work and practice in Buddhism to submit these short episodes to us for possible inclusion. Charles and John are looking for stories from Buddhist teachers, scholars and sangha members. Maybe something really funny happened to you at a Buddhist center, or something humorous occurred while attending a professional conference, or a personal communication involving Buddhism brought a silly smile to your face. They well collect the best of those stories submitted and publish them in their book.

Please make sure the stories are no more than three pages long, remain in good taste, and represent anecdotes that you are comfortable sharing. They may be submitted to either Charles ([email protected]) or John ([email protected]), and should be submitted by May 14th 2014.

Both Charles and John truly hope to make this a FUN project that will bring smiles to people worldwide, and they would be so grateful for any stories you may provide that will help them achieve our goal.


Current Research Project: The Story of Story in Early South Asia: Character and Genre across Hindu, Buddhist and Jain Narrative Traditions

University of Edinburgh; Cardiff University
AHRC Funded Project, 2013-2015

The Story of Story in Early South Asia: Character and Genre across Hindu, Buddhist and Jain Narrative Traditions

In this research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Dr Naomi Appleton (University of Edinburgh) and Dr James Hegarty (Cardiff University) take up characters, lineages and genres that are shared across Hindu, Buddhist and Jain narrative traditions, and use these shared narrative elements to explore links between these religions in and around the first millennium CE. The research aims to explore the role of story in the shaping of religious ideology in early South Asia, showing how Hindus, Buddhists and Jains used story to present and contest their ideas of self and other, and past, present and future. It will also consider how certain generic characters, such as the king or the sage, suggest points of contact between these religions. The project runs from January 2013 to the end of 2015. More information can be found on their website.

Authorship, Originality and Innovation in Tibetan Scriptural Revelations: a Case Study from the Dudjom Corpus.

University of Oxford, Faculty of Oriental Studies
AHRC funded project, 2010-2014

Authorship, originality and innovation in Tibetan Scriptural Revelations: A case study from the Dudjom Corpus.

This project explores the complex, multilateral processes involved in the initial production and subsequent literary expansion of revealed Tibetan Buddhist scriptures, processes which can extend over several generations.

Typically, each distinct revelatory tradition is associated with a specific charismatic lama, a prophesied and destined being who is considered to recall particular scriptural teachings from a previous existence, when he (or more rarely, she) received it directly, face to face with an enlightened being. Nevertheless such revealed texts often incorporate much already familiar textual material, and can also become enlarged over time, as later scholarly and visionary lamas contribute to them. In some cases, later lamas are recognised as rebirths of the earlier revealer, so that their re-working of the revelation may be seen as a religious duty.

Our research is based on a case study of lamas from the extensive and still vibrant Dudjom revelatory tradition, from which a number of rather different patterns are emerging. Modifications may in some cases represent an attempt to universalise a single specific revelation, combining it with liturgical practices and also other texts which are currently more widely known. Elsewhere, a later addition may derive from a revelation of an earlier generation or period, which is thereby re-introduced into the current tradition.

It is clear that these complex, rules-bound, communal methods of on-going scriptural revelation bear significant resemblance to methods once more widely found in Mahāyāna cultures. We are exploring the range of patterns in evidence, and asking what they indicate about Tibetan understandings of on-going scriptural composition.

For more information please see the project’s website.