Sino-Tibetan Divine Transactions: The Transformation of Buddhist Public Liturgies at Dunhuang (Eighth–Tenth Centuries)


The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Dissertation Fellowships in Buddhist Studies


Religious Studies


This dissertation focuses on the transformation of Buddhist public liturgies at Dunhuang from the eighth to the tenth century. It demonstrates that Buddhist ritual flourished in this period at Dunhuang by localizing the existing Chinese ritual elements, absorbing esoteric ritual techniques from Tibetan sources, and inventing its own liturgical traditions. Based on my own reconstruction of four major types of public liturgy (offering-making, sutra-chanting, grotto-related liturgies, and mandala rites) and an analysis of the liturgical system at Dunhuang, the dissertation examines the performative dimensions of the "divine transactions" that underlie the public liturgies and the structural transformation that happened during the course of three centuries.