Guest lecture: "Imperial Cities as Capitals of Buddhist Empires" By Professor Dorothy Wong
Increased contacts between China and regions to both its west and east facilitated exchanges and the circulation of ideas, practices and art forms, giving rise to a synthetic art style uniform in both iconography and formal characteristics. The formulation of this new Buddhist art style occurred in China in the latter part of the seventh century, and from there it became widely disseminated and copied throughout East Asia, and to some extent in Central Asia, in the eighth century. This lecture argues that notions of Buddhist kingship formed the underpinnings of Buddhist states experimented in China and Japan from the late seventh to the mid-eighth century. For brief periods, the imperial cities of the Tang and Nara courts—Chang’an, Luoyang, and Heij?ky? (present-day Nara)—became transformed into capitals of Buddhist empires. The volume also argues that Buddhist pilgrim-monks were among the key agents in the transmission of the religio-political ideals of state Buddhism, its visual language, and attendant rituals and practices. As this visual style of state Buddhism was spread, circulated, adopted, and transformed in faraway lands, it transcended cultural and geographical boundaries and became cosmopolitan.
Dorothy Wong is currently Professor of Art and Director of the East Asia Center at the University of Virginia. Specializing in Buddhist art of medieval China, her research addresses topics of art in relation to religion and society, and of the relationship between religious texts/doctrine and visual representations. In addition to many articles on a wide range of Buddhist art topics, she has published Chinese Steles: Pre-Buddhist and Buddhist Use of a Symbolic Form (2004; Chinese edition 2011), H?ry?ji Reconsidered (editor and contributing author, 2008), China and Beyond in the Mediaeval Period: Cultural Crossings and Inter-regional Connections (co-editor with Gustav Heldt, and contributing author, 2014), and Buddhist Pilgrim-Monks as Agents of Cultural and Artistic Transmission: The International Buddhist Art Style in East Asia, ca. 645–770 (2018). She also has an ongoing digital project entitled: “Power of Compassion: Paths of Transmission of Avalokitesvara.”
More information about Prof Wong you can find here: https://art.as.virginia.edu/dorothy-c-wong