This book breaks new ground by examining trans-oceanic connectivity through the perspective of coastal shrines and maritime cultural landscapes across the Bay of Bengal and the South China Sea. It covers a period of expanding networks and cross-cultural encounters from the 3rd century BCE to the 13th century CE.
The book examines the distinctiveness of these shrines, and highlights their interconnections, and their role in social integration in South and Southeast Asia. By drawing on data from shipwreck sites, the author elaborates on the material and religious intersections and transmissions between cultures across the seas. Many of these coastal shrines survived into the colonial period when they came to be admired for their aesthetic value as 'monuments'. As nation states of the region became independent, these shrines were often inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List on account of their Outstanding Universal Values. The book argues that in the 21st century there is a need to promote the cultural connectivity of the past as transnational heritage on UNESCO's global platform to preserve and protect our shared heritage.
The volume will be essential reading for academics and researchers of archaeology, anthropology, museum and heritage studies, history of South and Southeast Asia, religious studies, cultural studies, and Asian studies.
Himanshu Prabha Ray is Research Fellow, Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, Oxford. She was the first Chairperson of the National Monuments Authority, Ministry of Culture in New Delhi, India from 2012 to 2015, and former Professor at the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. Her research interests include Maritime History and Archaeology of the Indian Ocean and the Archaeology of Religion in Asia. Her recent books include Decolonising Heritage in South Asia: The Global, the National and the Transnational (ed. 2019) Archaeology and Buddhism in South Asia (2018), Buddhism and Gandhara: An Archaeology of Museum Collections (ed. 2018), The Archaeology of Sacred Spaces: The Temple in Western India,2nd Century BCE to 8th Century CE (with Susan Verma Mishra, 2017), The Return of the Buddha: Ancient Symbols for a New Nation (2014) and The Archaeology of Seafaring in Ancient South Asia, (2003).
List of Figures. Preface. 1. Introduction 2. Culture, the Written Word and the Sea, 3rd century BCE to 4th century CE 3. Maritime Cultural Landscapes and expanding networks, 4th to 7th century 4. Travelling Relics 5. From the Tamil Coast to Vietnam: The King and the Temple 6. The Coastal Shrine and Maritime Networks, 7th to 13th Century CE 7. The Buddhist 'Cosmopolis' Re-examined 8. Shipwrecks Sites: Connecting the Dots 9. From Religious Shrines to Monuments: National Identity to Transnational Heritage. Bibliography. Index.