Vol. 14 No. 2: Formative Exchanges in Western and Central Asia: Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, Buddhism, and Islam in Contact

Special Issue Editor: Kianoosh Rezania

This special issue is the second Entangled Religions publication on formative exchanges in religious contacts, based on the three workshops organized by Eduard Iricinschi and Kianoosh Rezania between 2017-2019 within the Käte Hamburger Kolleg “Dynamics in the History of Religions between Asia and Europe” at the Center for Religious Studies, Ruhr University Bochum. The first special issue, coming out of the 2017 workshop, focused on the formative exchanges between the major religions of the Sasanian and Roman empires, that is, Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism, and Christianity.

The present issue includes some of the contributions to the 2018 and 2019 workshops. They reflect two ways in which the scholars extended the scope of the first workshop. The 2018 workshop shifted its geographical focus to the eastern part of the Iranian plateau, the Indian subcontinent, Central Asia, and China, and it included Buddhism in the groups of religions in contact. The 2019 workshop addressed the Islamic period and considered formative religious contacts between Islam and other religions. Taken together, the two special issues thus cover religious interactions from the Roman Empire to China in the first millennium CE.

The contributions explore the formative dynamics of contacts, interactions, and exchanges that took place between these religions at multiple levels: knowledge, ritual, material, and experiential. In analyzing the ways in which religions were imported, adopted, and transformed in Western and Central Asia, they consider transformation, hybridization, and adaptation as different outcomes of religious encounters. They analyze key building blocks of religious encounters such as highlighting geography and landscape as key features in shaping religious encounters; negotiating expressions of materiality in religious settings; underlying shared associations between mythological vocabularies and social or ritual practices across religions; religious expressions of survival and adaptation techniques such as commercial exchange, medical care, cosmogonies and cosmologies, rituals, and politics.

Note: The contributions are being published successively between February and December 2023. Please return then for the full spectrum of contributions.

Image: Miniature from ‘The Wonders of Creation,’ Wasit, Iraq, 1280.