Where Tocharian and Chinese Buddhism met. The hidden Chinese texts inside the Tocharian fragments.
Lecture by Tao PAN from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany; Lehrstuhl für Historische und Indogermanische Sprachwissenschaft,
This paper investigates some Tocharian fragments in Qizil with a completely new method, and they turn out to be composed of two physical layers with Chinese texts written inside. The hidden texts can then be identified as the Chinese translations of some Mahāyāna sūtras, such as the Vimalakīrtinirdeśa and the Ratnarāśi. Their palaeographic features suggest that those fragments are taken from the oldest extant manuscripts of these Chinese sūtras. Despite the fragmentary state of the Chinese texts, a comparative study has unveiled a significant variant reading which is better than the one attested in most editions. This discovery also allows a glimpse into the process of making Tocharian poṭhī-form folios out of the Chinese paper scrolls and helps to recover the correct arrangement of the Tocharian fragments. The Tocharian texts are also studied in the buddhological context in detail, which helps to explain several Tocharian words with respect to the meaning and the etymology.
Born in 1987, Pan graduated from Fudan University in Shanghai (2010) with a Bachelor of Science in Theoretical Physics before moving to Munich where he studied Indo-European Linguistics, Indology and Classics at the Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich. He received his Magister Artium (2015) in Munich with a thesis on the Tocharian Vinaya texts. He is now working on his dissertation about the Tocharian lexicon and metrics in Munich supported by Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes. His present research interests include Indo-European linguistics, Tocharian language and Buddhism, and Vedic Sanskrit. Employing philological and linguistic methods, he tries to explain the difficult Tocharian words based on the study of a wide range of texts, from Vedic prose to early tantric literature and from homeric Greek to Tibetan.
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