A Partial Bibliography for the Study of Indian Influence on Chinese Popular Literature

by Victor H. Mair

This was a working bibliography from about 1972-1979. It is current for works up to around 1978, but scores of important items have been added as late as the waning months of 1986. The major thrust of my research during this period was Tun-huang transformation texts ***** and that has had a decided influence on the types of materials that are included.

While drawing up this bibliography, I have become keenly aware of how limited it is and hence the urgent need for additional research tools to assist the Sinologist who is interested in studying traditional China in a global context. This is but a partial bibliography for the study of Indian influence on Chinese popular literature. We require similar works for the investigation of religion, philosophy, language, the arts, science, and so forth. And we also require handbooks which will help to illuminate China's intercourse with dozens of other peoples throughout history: the Tocharians, Khotanese, Huns, Sogdians, Uighurs, Kushans, Greeks, Romans, Tibetans, Mongols, Manchus, Vietnamese, Thais, Cambodians, and so on. During the course of my investigations, I have been especially impressed by the large impact of Iranian civilization upon China, a phenomenon of which I had previously been almost entirely ignorant.

Perhaps because of crude nineteenth-century excesses, the whole notion of cultural diffusion has lately fallen into such ill-repute that it is now considered gauche, if not immoral, to point out that a certain cultural element of one country has been borrowed from that of another country. It is as though making such an observation were perforce an attack on the integrity of the country that stooped to do the borrowing. This is nonsense, of course, unless we are willing to denigrate Shakespeare and his Elizabethan confreres for learning how to write sonnets from the Italians, Dante and Petrarch. Human beings have been borrowing ideas and techniques from each other throughout history; it is inconceivable that they will cease to do so in the future. Therefore, conscientious scholars should not avoid mentioning that a given cultural phenomenon in country A obviously derives from country B simply because there is a current sensitivity (amounting to a virtual taboo) against the making of such statements. There are only two good reasons not to draw diffusionist conclusions: 1. when they are not supported by honest, thorough, and objective evidence; 2. when they do not serve any useful purpose (e.g., better understanding of country A, of country B, of the two countries together, or of the mechanism of cultural transfer itself).

Joseph Needham and his co-workers have made tremendous contributions in calling our attention to China's technological and engineering inventions. They have also shown how some of these innovations and discoveries went beyond China's borders and were adopted by other peoples. This clear demonstration of China's ability to interrelate with other societies is a refreshing antidote to the widespread view of the Middle Kingdom as a mysterious, inscrutable, locked-up land that had little or no dealings with anyone else from the beginning of time. Chinese history and culture simply cannot be adequately understood without taking into account the history and culture of surrounding countries.

To strive for deeper comprehension of the development of various aspects of Chinese civilization, even more specialized studies are required. For example, the rise of tz'u ***** ("lyric meters") is perhaps the most significant literary phenomenon of the Sung period but, in spite of several recent books that have diligently examined its Chinese forerunners in the T'ang, no one has yet come to serious grips with the influence of Indian, Kuchean, Iranian, Turkic, and other foreign music on tz'u. A comprehensive examination of the social, literary, musical, artistic, terpsichorean, and other sources for the origins of tz'u demands that non-Chinese materials be taken extensively into account. To exclude such materials solely because they might lead to diffusionist conclusions is to restrict unduly (and potentially falsify) one's inquiry at the outset.

During the period of my research on Tun-huang transformation texts, I accumulated more than 5,000 note cards relating to the early development of tz'u. I am also in possession of a great amount of other material relating to the rise of tz'u, including slides, photographs, charts, etc. Having completed my work on transformation texts, I now realize that the early history of the tz'u is only tangentially related to the history of that genre. Furthermore, I am not myself now in a position to pursue further studies in proto-tz'u nor will I be free to do so for another ten years. Therefore, to any qualified individual who wishes to publish on the early history of lyric meters in the nearer future, I gladly allow unlimited access to my files on this subject.

To utilize these materials fully and effectively, however, one must have an interest in and a willingness to deal with the following areas of research: T'ang period music and institutions, Indian music and dance, Central Asian cultures, the Sanskrit language, Buddhism, art history, cultural borrowing, and the evolution of literary genres. It is also essential that anyone who uses these materials be capable of reading Japanese.

It is my firm opinion, based on personal experience and observation of the research of others, that what is true of tz'u is true of most other aspects of Chinese civilization. Namely, any inquiry that a priori restricts itself to Chinese sources alone is liable to distortion, if not outright failure. This is, of course, not to assert that non-Chinese sources are relevant in all cases, only that to preclude their consideration ahead of time is both perilous and unscholarly.

Inclusion of a work in this bibliography is by no means an endorsement of its quality or views Conversely, important and valuable works may have been omitted through oversight or because I have deemed them not directly pertinent to the limited purview of this particular bibliography. In a few instances, works which I have not been able to examine personally but which appear to be significant for researchers in the field of Indian influence on Chinese popular literature have been noted. These are listed in the last section of the bibliography.

All Chinese, Japanese, and Korean titles have been given in English as well as in romanization and characters. The translations in square brackets are my own. Those in parentheses are either established equivalents or have been provided by the authors and editors of the works concerned. Occasionally I have made minor, cosmetic changes in these latter renderings to bring them into agreement with acceptable English grammar and usage. In the majority of cases, the translations of East Asian titles that I have provided are not at all elegant; they are meant to serve primarily as identifying tags for readers unfamiliar with morphographic East Asian written languages.

In the Chinese section of the bibliography, basic information about the listed texts has been noted. Many of the pre-twentieth-century works have been described more fully in the following: Gimm (especially pp. 583-620), des Rotours (especially pp. 72-118), Pian (especially pp. 235-237), Teng and Biggerstaff, and Edwards. For all pre-twentieth-century works, I have tried to provide some indication of the time when the author, compiler, translator, or editor(s) lived. Failing this, the date of original publication or date of the preface is usually given. Translations from a given language, regardless of the language into which they are made, will be found under the section of the bibliography appropriate to the original source material. Hence, Iriya Yoshitaka's renderings of popular Buddhist narratives from Tun-huang are given in the Chinese section rather than in the Japanese one.

The bibliography is divided into the following sections:

  1. Journals and Works Referred to in Abbreviated Fashion. Pp. 1ff.
  2. Catalogs of Tun-huang Manuscripts and Bibliographies of Studies on Them. Pp. 6ff.
  3. Chinese Studies, Texts, Translations, and Dictionaries. Pp. 9ff.
  4. Japanese and Korean Studies, Texts, Translations, and Dictionaries; Southeast Asian Sinitic Dictionaries. pp.75ff.
  5. South and Southeast Asian and Buddhicized Central Asian Texts, Translations, and Dictionaries (Includes Indic, Tibetan, Uighur, Indonesian, etc.). Pp. 115ff.
  6. Near and Middle Eastern Texts, Translations, and Dictionaries. Pp. 132ff.
  7. Studies and Texts in European Languages (Other than Translations from the Above Groups). Pp.134ff.
  8. Films, Performances, Lectures, Unpublished Manuscripts, and Personal Communications. pp. 204ff.
  9. Articles and Books Not Seen. pp.208ff.