Re: [INDOLOGY] Origin of Mahācīna

Walser, Joseph Joseph.Walser at
Thu Mar 10 20:18:29 UTC 2016

I have been teaching that cīna in Sanskrit sources refers to the Qin dynasty. I have no idea where I got that, so someone correct me if I am wrong.


Joseph Walser

Associate Professor

Department of Religion

Tufts University

From: INDOLOGY [indology-bounces at] on behalf of Buchta, David [david_buchta at]
Sent: Thursday, March 10, 2016 3:15 PM
To: Indology
Subject: Re: [INDOLOGY] Origin of Mahācīna

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<mailto:deven.m.patel at>> wrote:
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  Sinologists do not seem to know, or at least do not cite, sources for this attribution.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 M. Patel
South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania

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