Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
Brian Bocking
SE Asia as a crossroads for Buddhist exchange:Pioneer European Buddhists and Asian Buddhist networks 1860 – 1960
“Flagging up Buddhism: Charles Pfoundes (Omoie Tetzunostzuke) among the Oriental Congresses and Expositions 1893-1905.”
Study of Religions Dept., UCC, Cork
Oral Presentation
Optional Fields
In December 1902, the first Congress of Orientalists to be held in the East was convened in Hanoi.   During an excursion to the Lim Pagoda, the gathering of distinguished European scholars walked to the pagoda “preceded by the flag of the Irish Buddhist, which represented rays of light proceeding from the mystic svastica in the centre” (Times of India, 19 January 1903, p.6). The Irish Buddhist here was Charles Pfoundes (1840-1907) who spent most of his adult life in Japan, possessed a Japanese name “Omoie Tetzunostzuke” and was ordained as a Buddhist around 1890. Lacking independent means but reasonably well-educated, entrepreneurial, fluent in Japanese and with a keen interest in Asian culture, Pfoundes survived as a cultural intermediary, explaining Japan and Asia to both Japanese and foreign audiences and proposing, or seeking involvement in, various international cultural ventures in Asia and beyond, some of which succeeded.  This paper draws attention to the kinds of orientalist congresses and international expositions Pfoundes was involved in, viewing them as nodes within shifting networks of cultural communication and exchange which, like other monastic, political, ethnic etc. networks had the potential to exchange and promote ideas of Buddhism. Drawing on Pfoundes’ personal letters and papers, the paper briefly outlines Pfoundes’ life and then focuses on his involvement, in the last 15 years of his life, in actual or proposed international congresses and expositions in Chicago, Japan, Hanoi and Oregon.
Dhammakaya Educational Foundation UK