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Studies in the Cultural History of India
Author: Hans T. Bakker
The 31 selected and revised articles in the volume Holy Ground: Where Art and Text Meet, written by Hans Bakker between 1986 and 2016, vary from theoretical subjects to historical essays on the classical culture of India. They combine two mainstreams: the Sanskrit textual tradition, including epigraphy, and the material culture as expressed in works of religious art and iconography. The study of text and art in close combination in the actual field where they meet provides a great potential for understanding. The history of holy places is therefore one of the leitmotivs that binds these studies together.
One article, "The Ramtek Inscriptions II", was co-authored by Harunaga Isaacson, two articles, on "Moksadharma 187 and 239–241" and "The Quest for the Pasupata Weapon," by Peter C. Bisschop.
Author: John T. P. Lai
Literary Representations of Christianity in Late Qing and Republican China contributes to the “literary turn” in the study of Chinese Christianity by foregrounding the importance of literary texts, including the major genres of Chinese Christian literature (novels, drama and poetry) of the late Qing and Republican periods. These multifarious types of texts demonstrated the multiple representations and dynamic scenes of Christianity, where Christian imageries and symbolism were transformed by linguistic manipulation into new contextualized forms which nurtured distinctive new fruits of literature and modernized the literary landscape of Chinese literature. The study of the composition and poetics of Chinese Christian literary works helps us rediscover the concerns, priorities, textual strategies of the Christian writers, the cross-cultural challenges involved, and the reception of the Bible.
Women, Rites, and Ritual Objects in Premodern Japan, edited by Karen M. Gerhart, is a multidisciplinary examination of rituals featuring women, in which significant attention is paid to objects produced for and utilized in these rites as a lens through which larger cultural concerns, such as gender politics, the female body, and the materiality of the ritual objects, are explored. The ten chapters encounter women, rites, and ritual objects in many new and interactive ways and constitute a pioneering attempt to combine ritual and gendered analysis with the study of objects.
Contributors include: Anna Andreeva, Monica Bethe, Patricia Fister, Sherry Fowler, Karen M. Gerhart, Hank Glassman, Naoko Gunji, Elizabeth Morrissey, Chari Pradel, Barbara Ruch, Elizabeth Self.

The Visual Culture of Esoteric Buddhism at Dunhuang
The first scholarly monograph on Buddhist maṇḍalas in China, this book examines the Maṇḍala of Eight Great Bodhisattvas. This iconographic template, in which a central Buddha is flanked by eight attendants, flourished during the Tibetan (786–848) and post-Tibetan Guiyijun (848–1036) periods at Dunhuang. A rare motif that appears in only four cave shrines at the Mogao and Yulin sites, the maṇḍala bore associations with political authority and received patronage from local rulers. Attending to the historical and cultural contexts surrounding this iconography, this book demonstrates that transcultural communication over the Silk Routes during this period, and the religious dialogue between the Chinese and Tibetan communities, were defining characteristics of the visual language of Buddhist maṇḍalas at Dunhuang.
Author: Walter Spink
Walter Spink’s intense concern with the development of the Ajanta caves and their architectural, sculptural and painted features finds its most insistent reflection in his present richly illustrated study. In part 1, Spink explains the many connections between the Bagh caves and its “sister site”, Ajanta. He particularly emphasizes the leading role that Bagh plays in establishing the “short chronology” and in the crucial matter of Buddhist shrine development from the aniconic to iconic forms of worship.
In part 2, along with his colleague Professor Naomichi Yaguchi, who also provided the photographs and the newly informative plans, the authors show how, over the course of a mere decade, better and better ways were discovered to fit the doors in the cells where the monks lived. Such an analysis reveals the vigor of the conceptual and technical changes that characterize Ajanta’s evolution from its start in the early 460s to its traumatic collapse in about 470. Moving from Ajanta’s beginning to its ending, the evolution of door fittings parallels the precise and dramatic
development of Indian history in the remarkable course of the emperor Harisena’s reign.

Author: G. Domenig
In his richly illustrated Religion and Architecture in Premodern Indonesia Gaudenz Domenig investigates the nature of Indonesian ethnic religions by focusing on land opening rituals, sacred groves, and architectural responses to the custom of presenting offerings. Since deities and spirits were supposed to taste offerings on the spot, it was a task of architecture to attract them and to guide them into houses where offerings were presented.
Domenig quotes numerous sources to show that certain material elements of the house were viewed as spirit attractors, spirit ladders or spirit pathways. Various ‘exotic’ features of Indonesian vernacular architecture thus become understandable as relics from times when architecture was still responding to indigenous religions practised in the archipelago.