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Rethinking Networks of Exchange and Material Culture
Silk Road studies has often treated material artifacts and manuscripts separately. This interdisciplinary volume expands the scope of transcultural transmission, questions what constituted a “book,” and explores networks of circulation shared by material artifacts and manuscripts. Featuring new research in English by international scholars in Buddhist studies, art history, and literary studies, the essays in Beyond the Silk and Book Roads chart new and exciting directions in Silk Road studies.
Contributors are: Ge Jiyong, George A. Keyworth, Ding Li, Ryan Richard Overbey, Hao Chunwen, Wu Shaowei, Liu Yi, Lan Wu, Sha Wutian, Michelle C. Wang, and Stephen Roddy.
Architecture, Theology, and Practice in an Early Modern Pilgrimage Town
The small town of Vṛndāvana is today one of the most vibrant places of pilgrimage in northern India. Throngs of pilgrims travel there each year to honour the sacred land of Kṛṣṇa’s youth and to visit many of its temples.
The Building of Vṛndāvana explores the complex history of this town’s early modern origins. Bringing together scholars from various disciplines to examine history, architecture, art, ritual, theology, and literature in this pivotal period, the book examines how these various disciplines were used to create, develop, and map Vṛndāvana as the most prominent place of pilgrimage for devotees of Kṛṣṇa.
Contributors are: Guy L. Beck, Måns Broo, David Buchta, John Stratton Hawley, Barbara A. Holdrege, Rembert Lutjeharms, Cynthia D. Packert, and Heidi Pauwels.
Familiarity and the Material Culture of North China, 1000-2000
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At the intersection of art and religious history, this work suggests a fresh method for studying Chinese gods and sacred places. Susan Naquin tells the full story of the transformations of the Lady of Mount Tai, North China’s most important female deity, and her mountain home. This generously illustrated visual history presents a rich array of overlooked statues, prints, murals, and paintings of gods that were discovered in museums, auctions, and extensive travel. By focusing on ordinary images, temples, and region-based materiality Naquin demonstrates how this flexibly gendered new god flourished while her male predecessor was neglected. Both suffered greatly during the last century, but Mount Tai continues to be a culturally significant monument and China’s most popular tourist mountain.
An Illustrated Selection from the ABIA Online Bibliography on the Arts and Material Culture of South and Southeast Asia
Reading Śiva is an illustrated bibliography on the Hindu god Śiva in the arts, crafts, coins, seals and inscriptions from South and Southeast Asia. It results from a century of ABIA bibliographic work and covers over 1500 academic publications since 1672. This scholarly and multi-disciplinary volume offers keyword-indexed annotations. The detailed indices on authors, geographic terms and subjects enable an easy search through the data. Links with the entries to resource repositories (such as JSTOR, Persée, Project MUSE, Academia.edu, ResearchGate and the Internet Archive) and links added to the sumptuous illustrations immediately take you to these resource sites.
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Approaching the prison as a creative environment and imprisoned officials as creative subjects in Ming China (1368-1644), Ying Zhang introduces important themes at the intersection of premodern Chinese religion, poetry, and visual and material culture. The Ming is known for its extraordinary cultural and economic accomplishments in the increasingly globalized early modern world. For scholars of Chinese religion and art, this era crystallizes the essential and enduring characteristics in these two spheres. Drawing on scholarship on Chinese philosophy, religion, aesthetics, poetry, music, and visual and material culture, Zhang illustrates how the prisoners understood their environment as creative and engaged it creatively. She then offers a literature survey on the characteristics of premodern Chinese religion and art that helps situate the questions of “creative environment” and “creative subject” within multiple fields of scholarship.
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Nira Stone (1938-2013) was a scholar of Armenian and Byzantine Art. Her broad and close acquaintance with the field of Armenian art history covered many fields of Armenian artistic creativity. Nira Stone made notable contributions to the study of Armenian manuscript painting, mosaics, and other forms of artistic expression. Of particular interests are her researches on this art in its historical and religious contexts, such as the study of apocryphal elements in Armenian Gospel iconography, the place of the mosaics of Jerusalem in the context of mosaics in Byzantine Palestine, and of the interplay between religious movements, such as hesychasm, and Armenian manuscript painting.
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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.
Ancestral Rites, Weights and Measures, and the Means of Protest
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Michael Loewe calls on literary and material evidence to examine three problems that arose in administering China’s early empires. Religious rites due to an emperor’s predecessors must both pay the correct services to his ancestors and demonstrate his right to succeed to the throne. In practical terms, tax collectors, merchants, farmers and townsmen required the establishment of a standard set of weights and measures that was universally operative and which they could trust. Those who saw reason to criticise the decisions taken by the emperor and his immediate advisors, whether on grounds of moral principles or political expediency, needed opportunities and the means of expressing their views, whether as remonstrants to the throne, by withdrawal from public life or as authors of private writings.