Re: [INDOLOGY] Origin of Mahācīna

Matthew Kapstein mkapstei at
Mon Mar 14 11:02:28 UTC 2016

It is curious that one never sees c��na used in Tibetan materials until comparatively late times. The ubiquitous
Tibetan term for China is rgya-nag, though from about the 10c. on one also sometimes sees stong-kun,
(presumably from Ch. dong jun �|܊ or dongjing �|�� though there is some controversy about this). Rgya-nag is traditionally said to mean the "black expanse," referring to the realm in which people wore black clothes, however,
I suppose that it might also come from ֧�� -- one would have to go back to the Middle Chinese phonology
to be sure that this is plausible. If so, then the Tibetan evidence would argue for this hypothesis and against
Qin as the sourse-term.
Matthew Kapstein
Directeur d'��tudes,
Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes

Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies,
The University of Chicago

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