Buddhist Geographical Information System (BGIS)

The project aims to build a searchable relational database of Buddhist monasteries in the world by using Geographic Information System (GIS) tools. Combining the power of data science and electronic mapping, the GIS software can integrate different types of information about monasteries and illustrate them visually on maps. 

This database will allow researchers to do quantitative studies about the geographical distribution of Buddhism, the formation of pilgrimage networks, and their relationship to other cultural and social institutions. The primary focus of this project right now is to develop datasets of Chinese Buddhist monasteries.

Currently this project aims to digitally present data on Chinese Buddhism with the potential to extend the scope to include the entire Buddhist world in the future. The seed funding for this project was provided and sponsored by the Vice President's Office for Research at the University of Arizona from 2003 to 2004. It was also associated with the “Atlas of Chinese Religions Project” funded by the Henry Luce Foundation and carried out by the Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative (ECAI) at the University of California, Berkeley. We have published BGIS version 1.0 and 1.1 and developed many unpublished datasets. We also self-published working papers to delineate the database structure and design.

Download BGIS version 1.1 from Spatial Data Explorer at the University of Arizona

Download BGIS version 1.1 2006 Chinese Buddhist Temple Data from Harvard University World Map Project

Follow the instructions below to download the data. By downloading the data, you agree to abide by the terms and citation requirement stipulated in the README files.

  1. Add ready-made layers from “World Map” database from the following website:  http://worldmap.harvard.edu/
  2. Click “view a map”
  3. Click “ChinaMap”
  4. Click “Add Layers” at the top left of the website
  5. Search for “BGIS”
  6. Click “China BGIS”
  7. In the top right “Download” area, click “Zipped Shapefile,” download the file “china_bgis_fme.zip” and save the file in download
  8. Open the file “china_bgis_fme.zip” and “Extract all” for later use

Working paper: “Mapping Chinese Buddhist Monasteries: A Relational Database of Seventeenth-century Chinese Buddhism.”