Re: [INDOLOGY] Origin of Mahācīna

Buchta, David david_buchta at
Thu Mar 10 20:15:38 UTC 2016

Hi Deven,

I've seen cīna, without "mahā-" not infrequently. See, for an example,
Mahābhārata 2.23.19 of the critical edition. I can't recall where else off
the top of my head.

02,023.019a sa kirātaiś ca cīnaiś ca vṛtaḥ prāgjyotiṣo 'bhavat
02,023.019c anyaiś ca bahubhir yodhaiḥ sāgarānūpavāsibhiḥ


David Buchta
Lecturer in Sanskrit
Department of Classics
Brown University

On Thu, Mar 10, 2016 at 2:48 PM, Deven Patel <deven.m.patel at>

> Dear list members,
> A Sinologist colleague of mine has raised the following question to me.
> Any thoughts would be appreciated:
> Conventional wisdom among certain Sinologists is that the Western name
> "China" derives from the Sanskrit Mahācīna, etc.  Sinologists do not seem
> to know, or at least do not cite, sources for this attribution.  How old
> is the name, and how trustworthy are the texts?
> Thank you,
> Deven
> --
> Deven M. Patel
> South Asia Studies
> University of Pennsylvania
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