32nd German Oriental Studies Conference, Münster


Panel: Fate, Freedom and Prognostication - Aspects of Research from the Consortium of the University Erlangen-Nuremberg


At the University of Münster, Germany
September 23-27, 2013

Convenor: Dr. Esther-Maria Guggenmos


Raum: Kath Theol I, Hochparterre, Johannisstraße 8-10

Tag Zeit
Mo 16:00-16:30 Guggenmos Tracing the Taxonomies of Mantic Practices - On Two Enumerations of Mantic Practices in the Chinese Buddhist Canon
Mo 16:30-17:00 Hendrischke Problems of Prognostication as Addressed in the Taiping jing 太平經 (Scripture on Great Peace)
Mo 17:00-17:30 Katz The Practice of Observation (guan 觀) in Song-Ming Confucian Thought
Mo 17:30-18:00 Schmidl Introducing Astrology: al-Ashraf ʿUmar and his Kitāb al-Tabṣira (Yemen, 13th c.)

Beschreibung des Panels

This panel assembles four research projects carried out at the International Consortium for Research in the Humanities of the University Erlangen-Nuremberg. Prognostication and prediction are pervasive anthropological phenomena found in cultures all over the world. The Research Consortium aims to uncover the historical foundations of prognostication, together with their impact on our immediate present and our way of coping with the future. While it focuses certainly on China and Medieval/Early Modern Europe in a comparative perspective, it also covers aspects of divination from East Asia, Central and South Asia, or the Mesopotamian and Islamic World. In a short introduction, Esther-Maria Guggenmos will provide an overview about the ongoing research threads at the Consortium, such as Oracle Bone Divination, Hemerologies, the Book of Changes, Buddhist apocrypha, Astrology, etc. Four papers follow, outlining some of the research currently being undertaken at the Consortium.



Abstracts der Vorträge

Schmidl, Petra G.: Introducing Astrology: al-Ashraf ʿUmar and his Kitāb al-Tabṣira (Yemen, 13th c.)

In 13th century Yemen, the Rasūlid sultan al-Ashraf ʿUmar (d. 1296) - the authorship has not been fully established - wrote the Kitāb al-Tabṣira fī ʿilm al-nujūm, that deals with astronomy, astrology, and other related topics. In its introduction, the author claims to be writing a treatise for beginners in this field of experience. This paper will analyse the structure in which al-Ashraf ʿUmar organizes his book and compare it with other introductions to astrology, such as the treatises of Abū Maʿshar (b. 787 (?)), al-Qabīṣī (fl. 10th c.), and Kūshyār b. Labbān (fl. 10th / 11th c.).

Hendrischke, Barbara: Problems of Prognostication as Addressed in the Taiping jing 太平經 (Scripture on Great Peace)

The Taiping jing, that is included in the Daozang 道藏 (Daoist Canon), consists of the remnants of a Taiping jing that was collated by Daoists of the sixth century. This we can be sure of, since the transmitted text shares much in common with the table of contents of a Taiping jing that has been preserved in a Dunhuang manuscript from the seventh century (S. 4226). In regard to the origin of the material that the sixth century editors made use of, the situation is less clear. Since there are no reliable outside data for the origin or early transmission of this material, the question can only be addressed by undertaking an analysis of the transmitted textual material. Here, a first step must be the search for and identification of the units of which this long scripture consists. This paper constitutes an attempt to provide some groundwork for the establishment of such units. Prognostication is a topic that is dealt with in many parts of the transmitted material, using different terms and stressing different interests. Characteristic differences can be observed in the role attributed to "heaven′s prognostic" 天讖 tian chen, in the confidence placed in divinatory techniques, in suggestions regarding the need for active spirit cooperation, and in the belief in a predestined personal fate. These differences can, as will be argued, help to divide the scripture into units that document sufficient homogeneity to be attributed to an identical source and transmission.

Katz, Sophia: The Practice of Observation (guan 觀) in Song-Ming Confucian Thought

This paper explores the philosophical meanings of the practice of observation (guan觀) as reflected in the writings of selected Confucian thinkers of the Song and Ming dynasties. The act of observing was explicitly connected with the mental activity of the sage already in the Book of Changes; it further became an important methodological tool for acquiring epistemological insights and was widely used in the fields of Chinese medicine, divinatory activities and military practices. During the Song dynasty, Confucian scholars started to employ observation as a way to gain insights into the nature of reality, claiming that the correct method of observation allows direct, unmediated access to sagely knowledge. Thus, Shao Yong 邵雍 (1012-1077) conceptualized his formula "to observe things on the basis of things" (yiwu guanwu 以物觀物), while Yang Shi 楊時 (1053-1135) and his followers, associated with the Daonan school of Confucianism (daonan xuepai 道南學派), dedicated considerable time and effort to the practice of "observing [the state of] the Mean" (guanzhong 觀中). My presentation explores the development of these and other related ideas on observation, concentrating especially on the element of directness which characterizes sagely knowledge, as well as on the question of the practitioner′s self-perception.

Guggenmos, Esther-Maria: Tracing the Taxonomies of Mantic Practices - On Two Enumerations of Mantic Practices in the Chinese Buddhist Canon

Several profound attempts have been made, from Otto Franke (1913) to Peter Ramers (1996), to elucidate the nomenclature of the comprehensive list of mantic practices appearing as an independent unit repeatedly in the Buddhist Canon, e.g. in fascicle 20 of the Brahmajālasutta of the Pāli Dīghanikāya. While scholarly attention has focused so far especially on the Pāli and Sanskrit sources and included Chinese parallels for reference (Konrad Meisig 1987), this paper concentrates on two Chinese parallels from the Fandong Jing 梵動經 (here esp. T.1, I: 89b21-89c18) and The Sutra of the 62 (Wrong) Views 佛說梵網六十二見經 (here esp. T.21, I: 265a14- 265b17). Based on a comparison of these two texts, the paper aims to trace the taxonomies and organization of mantic knowledge in the Chinese Buddhist context. It attempts to distinguish between the Indian and Chinese nomenclature for the mantic arts and shows, behind these choices, the ongoing negotiation between a faithful translation and the wish to correlate with existing practices in China.


Kath Theol I, Hochparterre,
Johannisstraße 8-10