Building a Sacred Mountain: The Buddhist Architecture of China’s Mount Wutai
$60.00S HARDCOVER (9780295993522)
PUBLISHED: May 2014
By the tenth century CE, Mount Wutai had become a major pilgrimage site within the emerging culture of a distinctively Chinese Buddhism. Famous as the abode of the bodhisattva Manjusri (known for his habit of riding around the mountain on a lion), the site in northeastern China’s Shanxi Province was transformed from a wild area, long believed by Daoists to be sacred, into an elaborate complex of Buddhist monasteries.
In Building a Sacred Mountain, Wei-Cheng Lin traces the confluence of factors that produced this transformation and argues that monastic architecture, more than texts, icons, relics, or pilgrimages, was the key to Mount Wutai’s emergence as a sacred site. Departing from traditional architectural scholarship, Lin’s interdisciplinary approach goes beyond the analysis of forms and structures to show how the built environment can work in tandem with practices and discourses to provide a space for encountering the divine.
Wei-Cheng Lin is assistant professor of Chinese art history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“A well-researched, serious, significant book on fascinating subjects with profound impact on Chinese civilization.” – Nancy Steinhardt, University of Pennsylvania
“A fascinating exploration of the development of Mount Wutai into the residence of the bodhisattva Mañjuśrī. Lin’s critical study sheds new light on the relationship between sacred mountain and sacral architecture, providing important insights into Wutai’s significance for both pilgrims and politicians alike. Required reading for any interested in the experience of sacred landscapes in early medieval China.” –Tracy Miller, Vanderbilt University
“Lin’s book brings the skills of a gifted art historian and sinologist to the interpretation of one of the most important Buddhist sites in East Asia. Lin shows how, over many centuries, the interaction of landscape, architecture, and ritual created an environment intended to make possible human encounters with the sacred presences thought to permeate the slopes of Mount Wutai. The book also ranges widely beyond Mount Wutai to explore painting and sculpture inspired by the mountain. Lin’s prose is clear and direct, and the superb illustrations, maps, and diagrams make the book visually engaging.” –Robert E. Harrist, Jr., author of Landscape of Words