BuddhistRoad Paper 2.3 "The Ritual Use of Human Effigies in the Esoteric Buddhist Literature from Karakhoto"


Haoran Hou


Among the Tibetan Buddhist literature unearthed at Karakhoto, a number of ritual texts of the liṅga effigies have recently been identified. These texts describe how to make and use the liṅga effigies for ritual purposes such as healing, inflicting harm, and exorcism. The rituals involving the use of the liṅga effigies had their origin in India, passed through Tibet, and spread to the Tangut Empire (ca. 1038–1227, in Chinese sources known as Xixia 西夏) and into the Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368, 元). So far, not much is known about the performance and transmission of the liṅga rituals in Eastern Central Asia. To fill this gap, this paper translates and annotates the ritual texts from the Karakhoto documents and in doing so illustrates how the liṅga effigies were made and used by people at the time, and further explores their transmission across Eastern Central Asia between the 11th and 14th centuries.



December 23, 2022

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