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Narrative, Place, and the Śaiva Imaginary in Early Medieval North India
In Mapping the Pāśupata Landscape: Narrative, Place, and the Śaiva Imaginary in Early Medieval North India, Elizabeth A. Cecil explores the sacred geography of the earliest community of Śiva devotees called the Pāśupatas. This book brings the narrative cartography of the Skandapurāṇa into conversation with physical landscapes, inscriptions, monuments, and icons in order to examine the ways in which Pāśupatas were emplaced in regional landscapes and to emphasize the use of material culture as media through which notions of belonging and identity were expressed. By exploring the ties between the formation of early Pāśupata communities and the locales in which they were embedded, this study reflects critically upon the ways in which community building was coincident with place-making in Early Medieval India.
The History, Architecture, and Legacy of Catholic Sacred Structures in Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei Province
China’s Old Churches, by Alan Sweeten, surveys the history of Catholicism in China (1600 to the present) as reflected by the location, style, and details of sacred structures in three crucial areas of north China. Closely examined are the most famous and important churches in the urban settings of Beijing and Tianjin, as well as lesser-known ones in rural Hebei Province.
Missionaries built Western-looking churches to make a broad religious statement important to themselves and Chinese worshippers. Non-Catholics, however, tended to see churches as sociopolitically foreign and culturally invasive. The physical-visual impact of church buildings is significant. Today, restored old churches and new sacred structures are still mostly of Western style, but often include a sacred grotto dedicated to Our Lady of China--a growing number of Catholics supporting Marian-centered activities.
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.

In Royal Umbrellas of Stone: Memory, Politics, and Public Identity in Rajput Funerary Art, Melia Belli Bose provides the first analysis of Rajput chatrīs ("umbrellas"; cenotaphs) built between the sixteenth to early-twentieth centuries. New kings constructed chatrīs for their late fathers as statements of legitimacy. During periods of political upheaval patrons introduced new forms and decorations to respond to current events and evoke a particular past. Offering detailed analyses of individual cenotaphs and engaging with art historical and epigraphic evidence, as well as ethnography and ritual, this book locates the chatrīs within their original social, political, and religious milieux. It also compares the chatrīs to other Rajput arts to understand how arts of different media targeted specific audiences.
In Archaeological and Visual Sources of Meditation in the Ancient Monasteries of Kuča, Angela F. Howard and Giuseppe Vignato use diverse methodological approaches from archaeology, art history and religious studies to reconstruct monastic life and practices in the rock monasteries on the northern Silk Route (ca. 200-650). Analysis of the caves’ function, meditation manuals, and the cave murals highlights the centrality of meditation, a fundamental duty of Kuča monastics. This interdisciplinary study utilizes hitherto unpublished line drawings, maps, and photographs to reconstruct and interpret the architecture and décor of Kuča caves, thus revealing the close links between the spiritual and the physical, between doctrinal teaching and practice and the lay-out and décor of the monasteries.
The Didactic Images of the Manichaeans from Sasanian Mesopotamia to Uygur Central Asia and Tang-Ming China
The founder of Manichaeism, Mani (216-274/277 CE), not only wrote down his teachings to prevent their adulteration, but also created a set of paintings—the Book of Pictures—to be used in the context of oral instruction. That pictorial handscroll and its later editions became canonical art for Mani's followers for a millennium afterwards. This richly illustrated study systematically explores the artistic culture of religious instruction of the Manichaeans based on textual and artistic evidence. It discusses the doctrinal themes (soteriology, prophetology, theology, and cosmology) depicted in Mani’s canonical pictures. Moreover, it identifies 10th-century fragments of canonical picture books, as well as select didactic images adapted to other, non-canonical art objects (murals, hanging scrolls, mortuary banners, and illuminated liturgical manuscripts) in Uygur Central Asia and Tang-Ming China.