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Paris EFEO Seminar
Paris EFEO Seminar

Monday 26th March François Lagirarde (EFEO) speaks on "Épigraphie et religion: le bouddhisme du Nord de la Thaïlande dans les inscriptions anciennes (XIIIe-XVIIe siècle)

11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (Free admission)
Maison de l'Asie, First floor salon, 22 avenue du Président Wilson, 75116 Paris

The monumental Thai inscriptions appeared from 13th to 14th century at Sukhothai, directly inspired by models of Khmer and ancient Mons epigraph, in Sanskrit and Pali already present on the territory. The well known stele of Ramkhamhaeng (circa 1290) seems to have immediately established a paradigm of political writing which founds the local dynastic principle and begins the redaction of a “national story” or of an imperial gesture bestowing the highest religious responsibilities on the elite royal families. Hard fact, part fiction? The epigraphy of Sukhothai would not be a paradigm of writing other than for the kingdoms of the South. In the North, the Lanna, who inherit, however, masterfully from Sukhothai, epigraphy readily developed and measured, and pragmatic types of messages that put forward a situation of exchange with many differences between the Palace(s) and the monastic communities. Here, recognised epigraph, encourages and entirely legalises the meshing of spiritual territory with levels of much greater freedom. Epigraphique usage show a regular functional action (gift, economic management, organisation of worship) in the name of a substance to which it refers without discontinuity (canonical citations, vernacular texts, Buddhist “imaginary”). In this sense the epigraphy constructs and reveals Buddhism as a religion. This is even one of the first ways to apprehend its history.

This lecture is integrated into the Master seminar “Asies” (EFEO - EHESS - EPHE) whose subject is Buddhism.


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