The Author

I’m Sam van Schaik, based at the British Library, working for the International Dunhuang Project, where I am currently a principle investigator in the project Beyond Boundaries: Religion, Region, Language and the State (ERC). My previous research projects include Tibetan Zen (British Academy) Tibetan and Chinese paleography (Leverhulme) and the Tibetan tantric manuscripts from Dunhuang (AHRC). I also occasionally lecture at the School of Oriental and African Studies.

My PhD in Religious Studies was awarded in 2000 by the Department of Religions and Theology at the University of Manchester. The dissertation, on the Dzogchen works of the 18th-century writer Jigmé Lingpa, was published as Approaching the Great Perfection in 2004.

Since 1999 I have been working with the manuscript collections from Central Asia at the British Library, with a particular interest in Buddhism in Tibet and Central Asia. Tibet: A History, a narrative history of Tibet, was published by Yale University Press in 2011.

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The Tibetan Chan Manuscripts: A Complete Descriptive Catalogue of Tibetan Chan Texts in the Dunhuang Manuscript Collections. Papers on Central Eurasia 1(41). Bloomington: Indiana University.

Manuscripts and Travellers: The Sino-Tibetan Documents of a Tenth-century Buddhist Pilgrim (with Imre Galambos). Berlin: de Gruyter, 2012.

Tibet: A History. London and New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011.
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  • Indian edition: Tibet: A History. New Delhi: Amaryllis, 2012.
  • Paperback UK and USA edition, 2013.

Esoteric Buddhism at Dunhuang, (edited with Matthew T. Kapstein). Leiden: EJ Brill, 2010.
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Tibetan Tantric Manuscripts from Dunhuang. (with Jacob Dalton). Leiden: EJ Brill, 2006.
Online catalogue version

Approaching the Great Perfection. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2004.
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“Writing, painting and sketching at Dunhuang: assessing the materiality and function of early Tibetan manuscripts and ritual items.” (with Agnieszka Helman-Wazny and Renate Nöller). Journal of Archaeological Science 53 (2015): 110–132.

“Married Monks: Buddhist Ideals and Practice in Kroraina.” South Asian Studies 30.2: 269–277.

“A Tibetan Catalogue of the Works of ‘Jigs-med gling-pa.” Revue d’Etudes Tibétaines 29: 39–63.
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“The naming of Tibetan religion: Bon and Chos in the Tibetan imperial period.” Journal of the International Association for Bon Research 1: 227–257.
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“Red Faced Barbarians, Benign Despots and Drunken Masters: Khotan as a Mirror to Tibet.” In Max Deeg (ed.), Religions on the Silk Road. Lumbini: Lumbini International Research Institute, forthcoming.
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“Ruler of the East, or Eastern Capital: What lies behind the name Tong kun?” in Imre Galambos (ed.), Studies in Chinese Manuscripts: From the Warring States to the Twentieth Century. Budapest: Eötvös Loránd University, 2013. 211–224.
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“Dating Early Tibetan Manuscripts: A Paleographical Method.” Scribes, Texts and Rituals in Early Tibet and Dunhuang, edited by Brandon Dotson, Kazushi Iwao and Tsuguhito Takeuchi. Weisbaden: Reichert Verlag, 2013. 119-135.
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“Witnesses for Tibetan Craftsmanship: Bringing Together Paper Analysis, Palaeography and Codicology in the Examination of the Earliest Tibetan Manuscripts” (with Agnieszka Helman-Wazny). Archaeometry 55.4 (2013): 707–741. DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4754.2012.00687.x

“Dzogchen, Chan and the Question of Influence.” Revue d’études Tibétaines 24 (October, 2012): 5–20.
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“The Origin of the Headless Style (dbu med) in Tibet.” Medieval Tibeto-Burman Languages IV, edited by Nathan Hill. Leiden: Brill, 2012. 411-446.
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“A New Look at the Invention of the Tibetan Script.” Old Tibetan Documents Monograph Series, vol.III, edited by Yoshiro Imaeda, Matthew Kapstein and Tsuguhito Takeuchi. Tokyo: Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, 2011. 45–96.
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“The Stone Maitreya of Leh: The Rediscovery and Recovery of an Early Tibetan Monument” (with André Alexander). Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 21.4 (2011): 421–439.
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“The Limits of Transgression: The Samaya Vows of Mahāyoga” in Esoteric Buddhism at Dunhuang, eds. Matthew T. Kapstein and Sam van Schaik. Leiden: EJ Brill, 2010. 61-83.
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“The Prayer, the Priest and the Tsenpo: An Early Buddhist Narrative from Dunhuang” (with Lewis Doney) in the Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 30.1–2 (2007 [2009]): 175–217.
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“Fragments of the Testament of Ba from Dunhuang” (with Kazushi Iwao) in the Journal of the American Oriental Society 128.3 (2008): 477-488.

“The Sweet Sage and the Four Yogas: A Lost Mahāyoga Treatise from Dunhuang” in Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies 4 (2008): 1-67.

“A Definition of Mahāyoga: Sources from the Dunhuang Manuscripts.” Tantric Studies 1 (2008): 45-88.
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“Oral Teachings and Written Texts: Transmission and Transformation in Dunhuang” in Contributions to the Cultural History of Early Tibet, ed. Matthew T. Kapstein & Brandon Dotson. Leiden: EJ Brill, 2007. 183–208.
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“Beyond Anonymity: Palaeographic Analyses of the Dunhuang Manuscripts” (with Tom Davis and Jacob Dalton) in Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies 3 (2007).

“The Tibetan Avalokitesvara Cult in the Tenth Century: Evidence from the Dunhuang Manuscripts” in Tibetan Buddhist Literature and Praxis (Proceedings of the Tenth Seminar of the IATS, 2003, Volume 4), ed. Ronald M. Davidson and Christian Wedemeyer. Leiden: EJ Brill, 2006. 55–72.
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“The Early Days of the Great Perfection” in Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 27/1 (2004): 165–206.
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“Where Chan and Tantra Meet: Buddhist Syncretism in Dunhuang” (with Jacob Dalton) in Susan Whitfield (ed), The Silk Road: Trade, Travel, War and Faith. London: British Library Press, 2004. 61–71.
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“Lighting the Lamp: the Structure of the Bsam gtan mig sgron” (with Jacob Dalton) in Acta Orientalia 64 (2003): 153–175.
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“The Great Perfection and the Chinese Monk: rNying-ma-pa defences of Hwa-shang Mahāyāna in the Eighteenth Century” in Buddhist Studies Review 20.2 (2003): 189–204.
Updated online version
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“Tibetan Dunhuang Manuscripts in China” in The Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 65.1 (2002): 129–139.
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“The Resolution of the Simultaneous and Gradual Approaches to the Great Perfection in the Klong chen snying thig” in Religion and Secular Culture in Tibet (Proceedings of the Ninth Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, Leiden 2000), ed. Henk Blezer. Leiden: EJ Brill, 2002: 309–320.

“Sun and Moon Earrings: the Teachings Received by ‘Jigs med gling pa” in The Tibet Journal 25.4 (2000): 3–32.
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“A Catalogue of the First Volume of The Waddell Manuscript rNying ma rgyud ‘bum” in The Tibet Journal 25.1 (2000): 27–50