Sacred Arts in China
Mon, Wed, Fri: 3:00-4:00pm
Why did a ruler of a small state take a lavish set of bronze bells instead of weapons with him to the netherworld in a time of war? Why, over a millennium, did artists continue to excavate and furnish grottoes with exquisite painting and sculpture, when within these dimly lit interiors the art can be barely seen? Why did an emperor break the coffers of the state to transform a large estate into a miniaturized replica of the entire natural world? If he did so as some kind of protection, what sort of evil forces did he intend to ward off?
This course offers a history of such extraordinary decisions in which material objects—not always at the regal scale of these examples—were given sacred meanings. They were sometimes expressions of beliefs, in what transpires in one’s next life, or in the reward or punishment for certain actions; but often, these artifacts were simply expected to do things for their makers. In this class we will consider the political, socioeconomic, and religious circumstances in which they were made, presented, consumed, or spirited away.
This course fulfills the following Major requirements: Geographical area (B) and Chronological period (I) or (II), based on the topic of the final research paper or project.