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Abstract

Stained glass windows created by Jean-Pierre Raynaud and Pierre Soulages for the Abbeys of Noirlac and Conques employ a minimalistic style sensitive to their Romanesque contexts but also express qualities one might call Cistercian, even though only one of the commissions was created for an actual Cistercian abbey. As a form of monasticism, “Cistercian” signifies values of simplicity, poverty, and austerity presented by the founders of the Cistercian Order as essential to the monastic life and embodied in the rigor of their architecture. Natural light is a key element in Cistercian fenestration, differing significantly from the display of color associated with Gothic stained glass. I argue that a form of neo-Cistercianism is evident in and exemplified by the works of Raynaud and Soulages for their respective abbey commissions, in which an aesthetic of restraint and economy aims, above all, to treat the configuration of light as the primary consideration.

Open Access
In: Religion and the Arts
Author:

Abstract

In the course of the 9th and 10th centuries, the Arabo-Islamic world acquired a massive amount of knowledge from the antique and late antique traditions. In order to reconstruct the historical circumstances in which this transfer of knowledge took place, we are often forced to rely on the narratives that frequently accompany technical texts. The frame tale attached to The Treasure of Alexander (Ḏaḫīrat al-Iskandar) is a complex narrative that glues together an anthology of technical texts in ten chapters. Its alchemical section contains, among other things, instructions for preparing four different ‘sharp waters’, characterized by an increasing degree of intensity. Such ‘waters’—possibly acid and corrosive substances—were supposed to be used in the treatment and dyeing of different minerals and metals. This paper offers a critical edition and English translation of the passages dealing with the four ‘waters’ and their role in different alchemical procedures in The Treasure of Alexander. Special attention is paid to those textual clues that may link the contents of The Treasure to the Graeco-Egyptian alchemical tradition of ‘divine water’.

Open Access
In: Nuncius
Author:

Abstract

The categories of ‘art’ and ‘life’ play a central role in the critical reception of Allan Kaprow’s Happenings, which have predominantly been read as a generalized, “blithely affirmative” and even “faintly embarrassing” attempt to fuse the two. This paper attempts to rethink the definition and relation of these two categories in Kaprow’s work. Rather than an uncritical attempt to fuse art and life, I suggest, Kaprow’s Happenings developed an increasingly complex, branching and networked structure, capable of staging a plurality of different modes of interaction between work and world. This paper explores both the modes and the contexts of these interactions in three of Kaprow’s Happenings of the 1960s.

Open Access
In: Journal of Avant-Garde Studies
Practices and Rituals, Visual and Material Transfer
Volume Editors: and
The ERC-funded research project BuddhistRoad aims to create a new framework to enable understanding of the complexities in the dynamics of cultural encounter and religious transfer in pre-modern Eastern Central Asia. Buddhism was one major factor in this exchange: for the first time the multi-layered relationships between the trans-regional Buddhist traditions (Chinese, Indian, Tibetan) and those based on local Buddhist cultures (Khotanese, Uyghur, Tangut) will be explored in a systematic way. The second volume Buddhism in Central Asia II—Practice and Rituals, Visual and Materials Transfer based on the mid-project conference held on September 16th–18th, 2019, at CERES, Ruhr-Universität Bochum (Germany) focuses on two of the six thematic topics addressed by the project, namely on “practices and rituals”, exploring material culture in religious context such as mandalas and talismans, as well as “visual and material transfer”, including shared iconographies and the spread of ‘Khotanese’ themes.
Author:

Abstract

In 1741, Jacques Gautier d’Agoty asserted his position as the inventor of tri-color mezzotint, advertising his process in the pages of the Mercure de France December 1741, with an image of a Drap d’or shell. This article takes the shell as a case study to demonstrate one way in which Gautier’s early artistic experimentation with print processes fed his later natural philosophical theorizing, which he published in the pages of his new scientific journal, the Observations (1752–1757). The burr of the Drap d’or’s copperplate, the stratigraphy of its tonal inking, and the corrosive action of its mordant informed Gautier’s conception of shell discoloration as a process based on the collapse of a mollusk’s surface texture and the movement of salts in and out of its pores. His first-hand experience of achieving mechanical color impressions with mezzotint furnished him with an artistic metaphor with which he could then comprehend a natural process.

Open Access
In: Nuncius
Author:

Abstract

The art objects and written sources found in the Turfan area show the devout worship of various bodhisattvas by the Buddhists who lived in this region. The Uyghurs were undoubtedly one of the most influential groups there. Chinese Buddhist impact from Dunhuang became an essential factor for the Uyghurs after most of them converted to Buddhism. Some scriptural sources in Old Uyghur had a close relationship with their Chinese versions widespread in Dunhuang. Thus, there were exchanges between Buddhist communities in Dunhuang and Turfan through which some buddha and bodhisattva cults were probably shared. One of those cults was that of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara. In Dunhuang, one has both written and figurative sources that show the relevance of the Avalokiteśvara cult. Significantly, the Chinese prayer texts describe Avalokiteśvara as a saviour from diseases and guide to paradise. In Turfan, on the contrary, the written sources in Old Uyghur neither focus on the cult nor refer to any of this bodhisattva’s roles mentioned above, although many banner paintings in Turfan were devoted to Avalokiteśvara. The gap of this bodhisattva’s appearance in the written and artistic sources from Turfan is thought to be due to that both Uyghurs and Chinese involved in Buddhist activities. The cult of Avalokiteśvara, which was strongly impacted by Chinese Buddhism, was probably represented in both the Chinese Buddhist community in Turfan and the Uyghur Buddhists, who had a close connection to that community.

Open Access
In: Buddhism in Central Asia II
Author:

Abstract

Tantric Buddhist ritual practice during the time of Tangut rule (ca. 1038–1227) in Eastern Central Asia can be studied on the basis of material, visual, and textual sources from various Buddhist sites. Here, I read a variety of sources that share a context to argue that a number of caves in the Northern Section of the Mogao Cave complex in Dunhuang were likely used for meditation and ritual practice, including as burial-meditation caves. These caves include Mogao Cave 465—the sole cave with an explicit Tantric Buddhist iconographic programme. I analyse the sources with the help of an analytical tool established by Knut Martin Stünkel, the three-level model of ‘transcendence–immanence distinction’ (TID), in order to understand the underlying ‘transcending process’, based on the ‘object-language level’ rather than on a specific notion of transcendence. Stünkel’s analysis is an outcome of an interdisciplinary research consortium at my home institution, the Center for Religious Studies (CERES) at Ruhr-Universität Bochum; thus, my chapter is an attempt to test the usefulness of the TID model for a medieval Central Asian Buddhist context. The application of this model allows one to analyse the process of the transformation of space, of the physical space of a ritual cave as well as of bodily space, as the practitioner’s perception of it is said to shift from an ‘immanent’ to a ‘transcendent’ perception. This would necessarily have an impact on the perception of time as well.

Open Access
In: Buddhism in Central Asia II
Author:

Abstract

This chapter highlights the role of samaya in the early development of Tantric Buddhist ritual. In early tantric writings, samaya functions not only as a vow, or set of vows, to be observed, but as the Buddhas’ jñāna that was ritually installed within the heart of the practitioner. The paper shows how samaya was thereby central to both the initiation ceremony and the post-initiatory sādhana practices of the Yogatantra system of the Sarvatathāgatatattvasaṃgraha. In both of these ritual contexts, the entry of the samaya into the practitioner’s heart represented a key moment. Turning to the slightly later ritual traditions of early Mahāyoga, the chapter argues that the sexualisation of the earlier concept of samaya produced the secret initiation (Skt. guhyābhiṣeka) and the subsequent self-administering of the sacramental drop of bodhicitta that marked the culmination of sexual yoga, each paralleling the Sarvatathāgatatattvasaṃgraha’s initiation and self-consecration (Skt. svādhiṣṭhāna), respectively. The developmental continuities between Yoga and Mahāyoga are evident in certain early Mahāyoga works where the drop of bodhicitta is referred to as the supreme samaya (Tib. dam tshig mchog).

Open Access
In: Buddhism in Central Asia II
Author:

Abstract

These notes deal with Buddhist paintings from the south of the Tarim Basin, more specifically with those unearthed in the Khotan oasis and, farther east, at Karadong, in the basin of the Keriya River. The findings were yielded by excavations carried out in the early decades of the 20th century and again, after a long gap, from the 1990s until recently. The methods of the field investigations that led to their discovery and the accuracy of their documentation are dramatically diverse, as are the criteria upon which the chronology of the murals has been formulated: from the 3rd century (Karadong) to the 6th–8th centuries (Khotan oasis). Such a long chronological span seems to be at odds with the relative proximity the murals display in their iconographic and stylistic orientation.

This paper presents a state of art of the topic and a preliminary attempt to spot clues that may lead to a more balanced chronological perspective.

Open Access
In: Buddhism in Central Asia II
In: Buddhism in Central Asia II