Courses / Fall 2013

Fall 2013

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    Course Number: HA 131A | CCN: 04934

    Sacred Arts in China

    Patricia Berger

    This course deals with two millennia of art that was produced in China to serve ritual purposes and especially with the role that images played in defining doctrine and belief in two traditions: Daoism and Buddhism. 

    We begin with a look at some of the problems early artists in China faced in their attempts to represent the sublime bodies of perfected Daoist immortals and the Buddha Śākyamuni. We will consider the translation of imported Buddhist images into legible Chinese forms before turning to such issues as the relationship of image to sacred text, personal practice, public ritual, and political propaganda, the ongoing conversation between Daoist and Buddhist artists, the assimilation of Tibetan thought and style in China, and the effect of foreign rule and patronage on Chinese and Tibeto-Mongolian Buddhist art. Specific visual forms developed by established schools of Daoism and Buddhism and by popular movements, especially the cults surrounding the Daoist Queen Mother of the West and the Buddhist bodhisattva of mercy Guanyin (Avalokiteśvara) will also be central themes.

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