A Lasting Vision: Dandin’s Mirror in the World of Asian Letters

Event date: December 13 - December 17, 2015

    Yigal Bronner (The Hebrew University)
    David Shulman (The Hebrew University)


    Does it make sense to speak of a pan-Asian set of ideas and practices in premodernity? And if so, what role did the Sanskrit cultural package play in shaping them?

    These are the questions that stand at the basis of this weeklong intensive workshop, with its focus on the many incarnations and Asia-wide impact of one central text, the Mirror of Literature, written by the poet and scholar Dandin (ca. 700, Kanchipuram, South India). This treatise on poetics was translated and adapted into many of the languages of India’s southern peninsula and Sri Lanka (Kannada, Tamil, Sinhala, Pali), travelled to Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Burma, Thailand), was repeatedly rendered into Central Asian languages (Tibetan, Mongolian), and, it has been argued, played a role in the shaping literary practices in China as well.

    Indeed, even a millennium after its composition, this work continued to exert influence on literary production from Tibet to Sri Lanka, and in many parts of the Indian subcontinent. What is the secret of the Mirror’s success? And what is its continental heritage? These and similar questions will be investigated in our IIAS Research Group, “A Lasting Vision: Dandin’s Mirror in the World of Asian Letters,” and the workshop will open this question to a larger community of Asia-experts and form the peak of our group’s work.