Arlo Griffiths

New Perspectives on Arakan in the First Millennium
Its name, dynastic history and Buddhist culture

  • Datum: Mo., 11. Mai 2015, 11:00
  • Ort: Institut für Kultur- und Geistesgeschichte Asiens, Seminarraum 1
  • Organisation: Kurt Tropper


The earliest phase of Arakan history, between about the fifth and the tenth centuries, has to be written on the basis of inscriptions and related material such as coins bearing Sanskrit texts, as well as sculpture and architecture. These show Arakan to have had strong ties to Southeast Bengal and beyond with the Buddhist communities of Northeast India using Sanskrit as the preferential medium of expression. A first batch of Arakan Sanskrit inscriptions was studied by E. H. Johnston and published posthumously in 1943. Some discoveries have been made since then, although the material is often in a deplorable state of preservation so that hardly any well-preserved text (other than short ye dharmāḥ inscriptions) can be added to the record compiled by Johnston. But even fragmentary material can throw new light on the past, especially when studied in combination with epigraphical and numismatic discoveries made in Southeast Bengal over the past half of the century. I will present some of the ‘new’ inscriptions and discuss the problem of their palaeographic dating. I will focus on the problem of chronology and discuss the discovery, based notably on evidence from the Mañjuśriyamūlakalpa, that the ancient name of Arakan was Kāmaraṅga. The overall problem that I will attempt to address is the extent to which the Arakan corpus may be regarded as integral to the epigraphical and Buddhist culture of northeastern South Asia, or can be said to represent a specifically Arakanese cultural identity.


Prof. Dr. Arlo Griffiths is professor of Southeast Asian History at the École française d'Extrême-Orient (Paris) since 2008 and adjunct professor of Epigraphy at the University of Indonesia, Jakarta, since 2010. He currently teaches at the École Pratique des Hautes Études, section des Sciences religieuses (Paris), and at the Université de Lyon III - Jean Moulin (Lyon), Département d'Indologie. His recent publications include The Paippalādasaṃhitā of the Atharvaveda, Kāṇḍas 6 and 7, 2009, and The Inscriptions of Campā at the Museum of Cham Sculpture in Danang (with Amandine Lepoutre, William A. Southworth and Thành Phần), 2012.