A study of the belief in the planetary deities in Dunhuang

Begin - Einde 
2021 - 2023 (lopend)
Vakgroep Talen en Culturen
Medieval China
Dunhuang studies
Dunhuang manuscripts
history of astrology
Buddhist deities



The research object of the project consists of the Dunhuang documents related to the planetary deities and the belief in the planetary deities in the Dunhuang area in Medieval China.

The main sources are manuscripts of the Dunhuang hoard, in addition to a selection of Buddhist canonical scriptures.

In the research the focus is on the origin and function of the beliefs, the iconography found in the Dunhuang material (including images in texts and in Dunhuang wall paitings), the ways of praying for sacrifice, the changes related to the members of planetary deities, and the intersection of planetary deities and other Buddhist deities. Most importantly, it is intended to trace the origin of the planetary deities, by investigating the origin of the planetary deities in early India, and how they gradually developed in China after the introduction of Buddhism, and how they gradually became "Chinese deities" under the influence of China’s astronomical concepts and Chinese religious beliefs.