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Entering a long-forgotten cave, naturally formed as part of the landscape and once inhabited but long ago fallen out of use, and finding, at the back of the cave, just a few strokes of a few characters visible, under the mud now clinging to the cave wall, an old inscription dating to prior to the Common Era, is an exciting discovery. By this and other means, many inscriptions of early South Asia have been rediscovered, recorded and documented. Some of these inscriptions were made by women; some by powerful queens, others by religious adherents making offerings. In this talk, Alice Collett will survey some of these early South Asian inscriptions made by Buddhist women, and discuss what they reveal to us about the lives of Buddhist women living in South Asia some 2,000 years ago. The talk will focus on inscription sites in North and Central India and Sri Lanka, and will include images of ancient Buddhist monument and cave sites.
Alice Collett received her MA in Buddhist Studies from the University of Bristol, and her PhD from Cardiff University. Post-doctorally, her research has focused on women in early Indian Buddhism and she has published widely on the topic. In 2013, her edited volume was published as part of the South Asia Research series (OUP, NY), which is entitled Women in Early Indian Buddhism: Comparative Textual Studies. Her new monograph, Lives of Early Buddhist Nuns: Biographies as History, is due out in August 2015, published by OUP, India. Since her PhD, Dr Collett has worked in several universities in the UK and North America and received several prestigious grants to support her research. She currently lives in York, UK, and is working on a new project on women in early Buddhist inscriptions. She is also currently co-editor of Buddhist Studies Review.