Research Tools

This is an index of online tools I frequently use for my research in Buddhism and medieval Chinese religions. More comprehensive indices for online resources can be found at the Princeton Library page for Chinese historiography (compiled by Benjamin A. Elman, revised 2018) or the Digital Resources for Sinologists article (composed by Jeffrey Tharsen, 2014). In addition, an ongoing conversation about Digital Humanities and digital tools for the study of China can be found at the Digital Sinology Facebook group. The standard reference guide for print materials pertaining to East Asian Buddhist studies remains the list compiled by Robert Buswell and William Bodiford (also here).

Last updated: February 2019

Digital Textual Collections

A summary overview of some of these digital corpora can be found here.

Kanseki Repository 漢籍リポジトリ
Developed by the Institute for Research in Humanities at Kyoto University and coordinated by Christian Wittern, this site features a vast compilation of pre-modern Chinese texts. Organized by traditional Chinese bibliographic categories, it incorporates texts from the Siqu Quanshu 四庫全書 (1773), as well as Daoist texts from the Zhengtong daozang 正統道藏 (1445) and Daozang jiyao 道藏輯要 (early 19th c.), and Buddhist texts from CBETA (see below) including the Taishō shinshū daizōkyō 大新大藏經 (1924-34) and Manji zokuzōkyō 續藏經 (1905-12). Digital facsimiles of original print sources are available for many digitized texts.

Chinese Buddhist Electronic Text Association (CBETA) 中華電子佛典協會
Founded in 1998 by Dharma Drum (Taiwan), CBETA has led the way in digitizing a variety of Chinese Buddhist canons, including the Taishō shinshū daizōkyō 大正新脩大藏經, Manji zokuzōkyō 續藏經, Qianlong dazangjing 乾隆大藏經 (1735-8), Fangshan shijing 房山石經 (7th -17th centuries), among other important Buddhist collections. A searchable, offline version can be installed (although the beta Mac version has not been upgraded since 2011) and a tutorial of its functionality can be found here. [Taishō abbreviations]

CBETA Digital Research Platform 數位研究平台
An online resource that makes use of the data created by CEBTA with added search functionality. (If you scroll down on the main page, you will find links to slides which describe some of the functions on the site.)

Saṃgaṇikīkṛtaṃ Taiśotripiṭakaṃ (SAT) Taishō Shinshū Daizōkyō Text Database 大正新脩大藏經テキストデータベース
The digitized modern scholarly edition of the Chinese Buddhist canon, namely the Taishō shinshū dai zōkyō 大正新脩大藏經 [Revised version of the canon, compiled during the Taishō era] published in Tokyo between 1924 and 1934 under the editorial supervision of Takakusu Junjirō 高楠順次郎 (1866–1945) and Watanabe Kaikyoku 渡辺海旭 (1872–1932). Helpful features include Tool tabs that link to the Digital Dictionary of Buddhism and to parallel passages translated in the Bukkyō Dendō Kyōkai series. The Taishō is based on the 13th century Koryŏ edition.

Thesaurus Literaturae Buddhicae
Hosted by the University of Oslo, this is an extremely helpful site that displays parallel passages from Buddhist texts in several languages, including Sanskrit, Chinese, Tibetan, and English.

Chinese Text Project (CTP) 中國哲學書電子化計劃
A decent compilation of pre-modern Chinese texts started by Donald Sturgeon, with a focus on pre-Qin and Han era works. Helpful features of this site include out-of-copyright English translations of several texts and toggles that display parallel passages, an integrated dictionary, and scanned source texts.

Han Dian Ancient Classics 漢典古籍
Organized by traditional Chinese bibliographic categories, this site is not well curated as the Chinese Text Project and fails to include a wide range of religious materials. [An interesting examination on LDA (Latent Dirichlet Allocation) Topic Modeling of this digital corpus was published in 2017, and the interactive models can be explored here.]

Scripta Sinica 漢籍電子文獻
The pioneering work of Academica Sinica, Taiwan, began in 1984 with the input of the 25 classical histories. It now encompasses over 1000 works.

Chinese Ancient Texts Database Project (CHANT) 漢達文庫
Started around the same time as the Academica Sinica project, this was conceived as a continuation of the Harvard-Yenching concordance series. Requires subscription.

Lexical Tools

Han dian 漢典 (AKA Zdic)
The most comprehensive online Chinese lexical resource, with entries from the classical Shuowen jiezi 說文解字 (early 2nd c.) and Kangxi zidian 康熙字典 (1716) [individually published here]. Entries are in simplified Chinese and typically include English translations of the headword.

Zhongwen da cidian 中文大辭典
This unabridged Chinese dictionary, published between 1962-68 in 38 volumes (plus two indices), was the best available lexical work until the 11 volume Hanyu Da Cidian 漢語大詞典 was published between 1986 and 1993 (not currently online). It was based on the influential Dai Kan-Wa jiten 大漢和辞典 by Tetsuji Morohashi 諸橋 轍次.

Revised Chinese Dictionary 重編國語辭典修訂本
Maintained by the Taiwanese Ministry of Education. Entries are in traditional Chinese and also provides the locus classicus of terms.

Dictionary of Chinese Character Variants 異體字字典
Online version of over 100,000 Chinese character variants, complied by National Taiwan Normal University and maintained by the Taiwanese Ministry of Education. There are links for searching by radical or total stroke count.

Digital Dictionary of Buddhism 電子佛教辭典
Begun by Charles Muller in 1986, and having several hundred contributors today, this is the most comprehensive lexical source in English of Buddhist terms. All headwords are in East Asian characters while entries are mainly in English. Headwords are also cross-referenced to important print resources. [Visitors without subscription can enter with username “guest” and password “guest.”]

Foguang da cidian 佛光大辭典
The online digitized version of the invaluable print resource.

Multi-function Chinese Character Database 漢語多功能字庫
Maintained by the Chinese University of Hong Kong, this site contains entries for oracle bone and ritual bronze scripts, along with etymologies. (This is preferable to the popular etymology site run by Richard Sears.)

Thesaurus Linguae Sinicae (TLS) 漢學文典
Advertised as “an historical and comparative encyclopedia,” this is the only collection of Chinese classical texts created outside of East Asia, with Christoph Harbsmeier 何莫邪 as main editor.

The Digital Etymological Dictionary of Old Chinese 古漢語詞源字典
Maintained by Jeffrey Tharsen, this provides extensive phonological reconstructions of classical Chinese, including but not limited to Old Chinese (OC), Middle Chinese (MC), and Late Han reconstructions. Updates to the Baxter-Sagart reconstructions of Old Chinese can be found here.

Visual Resources

Digital Dunhuang 數字敦煌
This site, run by the Dunhuang Academy 敦煌研究院 [English site], offers 360 degree panoramic views and high-resolution digital photographs of a few dozen caves at the Mogao 莫高 cave complex and a pair from the Yulin 榆林 complex. (The main site of the Dunnhuang Academy also has a similar panoramic function, found here, along with brief English introductions to several caves, found here.)

Digital Silk Road 数字丝绸之路
Includes scans of Pelliot’s Les Grottes de Touen-houang and Stein’s Serindia, among others, as part of the Toyo Bunkyo Archive. Includes Dunhuang Mogao, Bezeklik, and Kizil Caves.

Xiangtang Shan Caves Project 响堂山石窟項目
Maintained by the Center for the Art of East Asia at the University of Chicago.

Huntington Archive of Buddhist and Asian Art
This archive contains the slides and photographs of John and Susan Huntington, art professors emeriti at Ohio University.

Collection of Links to Museums with Online Buddhist Art Collections (focus on East Asia):

Digital Humanities Tools

A Critical, Digital Edition of the Song gaoseng zhuan 宋高僧傳之校勘與數位化版本 (direct link to GIS interface)

China Biographical Database Project (CBDB)

Other Tools & Resources

Digital Resources and Projects on East Asia
Outstanding collection by Paula R. Curtis of “an experimental collaborative database that compiles digital sites on East Asia into one central spreadsheet.”

BrillOnline Chinese Reference Library
Ancient and Medieval Chinese Literature:
Titles of Officials:
Major Administrative Divisions:
Administrative Structure of Han China:
Provinces and Commandery Units of Later Han:
Glossary of Chinese Personal Names:

Two Thousand Year Chinese-Western Calendar Converter 兩千年中西曆轉換
This useful online version is based on Xue Zhongsan 薛仲三 and Ouyang Yi’s 歐陽頤 Corresponding Sino-Western Calendars for Two Thousand Years 兩千年中西曆對照表 (1961).

Buddhist Studies Time Authority Database Search
A similar converter as above, this version also includes the option for browsing reign eras.

Character Information Services (CHISE) 漢字検索
Helpful tool to locate hard-to-find Unicode characters (type radical into search field).

Create Characters Not Found in Unicode!
Information on how to create your own digital characters (even fake ones).

Calligraphic Dictionary

Glossaries for Mac Dictionary (courtesy Simon Wiles)
Download and install these dictionaries for Mac’s dictionary app.

More Glossaries for Buddhist Studies

The well-known dictionary software had many features, including options to purchase several exceptional dictionaries such as the Gu Hanyu da cidian, Hanyu da cidian, and Grand Ricci, as well as Endymion Wilkinson’s Chinese History: A New Manual (5th edition)

A Beginner’s Guide to the Academic Study of Chinese Buddhist Texts
Handy list for students maintained by Peirce Salguero.
Beginners Guide

Open Access Journals/Publications

*As always, more to come…Several of these entries started as references compiled for Michael Emmerich’s Bibliography and Research Methodology class taken in the Fall of 2011.