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Maritime Diffusion of Buddhist Philosophical Thought and Art

Lecture | September 21 | 5-6:30 p.m. | 315 Wheeler Hall


Osmund Bopearachchi, UC Berkeley

Tang Center for Silk Road Studies, Center for Buddhist Studies


Trade is understood mainly as the transfer and exchange of commodities to make profits, and this was also the driving force of economic activities in ancient time. However, as revealed by epigraphic and literary evidence, among the earliest donors and important patrons of Buddhist establishments in South and South-East Asia were caravan merchants and wealthy seafaring traders. The spread of Buddhism from South Asia to Southeast Asia is also closely connected with the growth of a trading network that facilitated the movement of Buddhist merchants, traveling monks and teachers. The resources needed to build gigantic religious monuments in South and South-East Asia would thus have come from both the royal patronage as well as from the devout mercantile classes. Their wealth was based on the flourishing inland and international trade centers located in the ports along the coast and navigable river.

Osmund Bopearachchi is Adjunct Professor of Central and South Asian Art, Archaeology, and Numismatics, University of California, Berkeley, and Emeritus Director of Research of the French National Centre for Scientific Research (C.N.R.S.-E.N.S. Paris). A numismatist, historian, and archaeologist, he has published ten books, edited six books, and written over 150 articles.


tangsilkroadcenter@berkeley.edu