Category Archives: Central Asia

Mirror at the Gate: Greek Buddhist and Christian Art and Archaeology

Mirror at the Gate: Greek Buddhist and Christian Art and Archaeology
Sponsored by Springfield Museums
Thursday, October 26, 2017 – 12:15pm to 1:15pm

Location:
Springfield Museums
21 Edwards Street
Springfield, MA 01103
United States

http://www.springfieldmuseums.org

Mirror at the Gate: Greek Buddhist and Christian Art and Archaeology

Joseph A.P. Wilson, PhD, Fairfield University, Connecticut

Early Greek-Buddhist art and artifacts of Central Asia appear remarkably similar to early Christian art and artifacts of the Middle East. This presentation will present material connections between these neighboring regions during Late Antiquity. Eastern and Western religions were not entirely distinct. Political turmoil of the late Roman Empire spurred migration between these ancient cultures which deeply influenced the artistic traditions of both.

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UC Berkeley to open first university center for Silk Road study in North America

Many of the archaeological, art historical and textual remains left behind on the trade routes are now found at hundreds of remote cave sites scattered throughout far-western China in Xinjiang and Gansu. (UC Berkeley photo by Brittany Hosea-Small)

By Anne Brice, Berkeley News | MAY 3, 2017

The Silk Road is an evocative name that, to many, conjures up images of camel caravans and bustling bazaars — an international highway of commerce where people and cultures from the East and West intermingled and traded goods.

But scholars say that this romantic image is only a sliver of what life might have been like on the ancient Eurasian trade routes. UC Berkeley is opening the P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for Silk Road Studies, the first institutionalized center in the U.S. dedicated to the study of the historical trading networks serially known as the Silk Road, thanks to a $5 million gift by two branches of the Tang family — Oscar Tang and his wife, Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang, who are based in New York City, and Bay Area Berkeley alumni Nadine Tang and Leslie Tang Schilling, with their brother Martin Tang in Hong Kong.

Chinese American philanthropist Oscar Tang founded the first Tang center for excellence in Chinese Humanities, the P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for East Asian Art at Princeton University in 2003. In 2015, he and his archaeologist wife founded the Tang Center for Early China at Columbia University. The new Tang Center at UC Berkeley is the latest addition for the advancement of the interdisciplinary study of the historical Silk Road.

Oscar Tang believes that the new Tang Center at Berkeley is “part of my family’s ongoing effort to enhance knowledge and understanding of the great Chinese civilization and its relationship to the rest of the world.”

The center, which launched April 29, will promote the research and teaching of the material and visual cultures that flourished along the Silk Road and formed a bridge between the many economic epicenters of Eurasia and China. A better understanding of the Silk Road’s history will also help contextualize its emergent geopolitical significance in the present time. Continue reading

Early Chinese Buddhist Art from Dunhuang Cave Recreated In London

from Artlyst

Dunhuang, an oasis on the ancient Silk Road in northern China, is known for its caves containing some of the world’s finest examples of Buddhist art, created over a period of 1000 years. Millions visit this UNESCO world heritage site each year.

“We are honoured to have been chosen as London’s temporary home for one of these extraordinary caves” – Dr Khaled Azzam, Director of The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts

From 16 May – 15 June 2017, The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, in Shoreditch, is exhibiting a life-size, exquisitely hand-painted replica of one of the most beautiful Dunhuang caves, Mogao Cave 3. These caves form an enormous complex of temples – of which the Mogao Grottoes are the most famous. They were elaborate, beautifully painted and used as places of meditation, worship and pilgrimage from the 4th to 14th centuries. Desert sand sealed up many of these caves, but in 1900 a treasure trove of 50,000 manuscripts, hidden since the 11th century, was discovered in one of the caves, recording a vibrant history of cultural, scientific and spiritual exchange. Precious manuscripts, prints and textiles from the Dunhuang caves are now preserved by the International Dunhuang Project in collections around the world.

Dr Khaled Azzam, Director of The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, says: “We are honoured to have been chosen as London’s temporary home for one of these extraordinary caves. We hope Londoners and anyone visiting London will take this rare opportunity to see close-up, these exquisite examples of some of the world’s earliest Buddhist artwork – just as pilgrims, traders and worshippers would have made when they stopped at this crucial junction on the ancient Silk Road. We are immensely grateful to the Dunhuang Research Academy and to the Dunhuang Culture Promotion Foundation for paying us this honour.”

The actual cave is now so fragile it is closed to all visitors. Considered the most important of the ten late-Yuan dynasty caves, Mogao Cave 3 is the only one entirely devoted to the Avalokitesvara Sutra. The exhibition will also feature replicas of other cave murals, sculptures and manuscripts.

The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts is also hosting nine practical art courses relating to the paintings in the Dunhuang caves. These include learning traditional mural techniques and making vibrant pigments by grinding mineral rocks. The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts is also hosting nine practical art courses relating to the paintings in the Dunhuang caves. These include learning traditional mural techniques and making vibrant pigments by grinding mineral rocks.
Continue reading

Airport to close for expansion near China’s Dunhuang caves

Source: Xinhua | February 20, 2017, Monday | ONLINE EDITION

THE Dunhuang airport, located near the Mogao Caves, which contain some of China’s finest ancient Buddhist art, will be closed between March 15 and May 25 for an expansion project aimed at coping with a growing tourist influx.

The 976-million-yuan (US$142 million) expansion project, which began in 2016, will enable the airport to handle an annual capacity of 960,000 passengers and 1,700 tons of cargo.

The airport will close to allow for revamping of the runway and enlarging airport aprons, said the airport on Monday.

The 1,600-year-old Mogao Caves are home to more than 2,000 colored sculptures and 45,000 square meters of frescoes. They are located in a series of 735 caves carved along a cliff in northwest China’s Gansu Province along the ancient Silk Road route. In 1987, the site became China’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In recent years, tourist numbers to the caves have soared thanks to their growing fame both at home and abroad.

The Buddhist site received more than 8 million domestic and foreign visitors in 2016, up 21.37 percent year on year.

Since 2014, the Mogao Caves have set a daily limit of 6,000 reserved tickets plus an extra 12,000 emergency tickets to cater to the growing number of tourists during the peak travel season.

Transportation infrastructure has been built to cope with the large passenger flow. In addition to the airport expansion, easier transport links to Dunhuang were launched last year, including new trains from Beijing, and Yinchuan, capital of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

[link]

UM Museum Opens Photography Exhibit of Buddhist Caves

mogao-cave-north-wall-1943

The exhibit “Dunhuang through the Lens of James and Lucy Lo” is now open at the UM Museum.

Images from China illustrate artistic and architectural achievements

JANUARY 16, 2017 BY CHRISTINA STEUBE

OXFORD, Miss. – Photographs of the intricately painted Mogao and Yulin Caves in Dunhuang, China are on exhibit at the University of Mississippi Museum.

“Dunhuang Through the Lens of James and Lucy Lo” features photographs taken of the caves by the Los in the 1940s. The nearly 500 caves containing artwork are in the northwestern area of China along the ancient Silk Road and are a major Buddhist pilgrimage site. The caves, which served as spaces for meditation and worship, were painted between the fourth and 14th centuries.
The exhibit opened Jan. 10 in conjunction with the Southeast Conference of the Association for Asian Studies, held on the UM campus Jan. 13-15. The free exhibit runs through April 29, and an opening reception is set for 6-8 p.m. Jan. 31.

Joshua Howard, Croft associate professor of history and international studies and a Chinese historian, proposed this exhibit to the University Museum.

“These photographs have high artistic value,” Howard said. “James and Lucy Lo used natural light and often placed mirrors in the caves to create special lighting effects and create a sense of the caves’ spirituality.

“James Lo also experimented with his photo angles; for instance, shooting a 50-foot reclining Buddha from the vantage point of the head of the statue rather than from the feet looking toward the head. The result is a more intimate and serene shot of the Buddha. Other landscape photos they took give a sense of the harsh but beautiful desert terrain the caves inhabit.”
The collection of 31 black-and-white photographs is from the Lo Archive and the P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for East Asian Art at Princeton University. The Mogao and Yulin caves illustrate artistic and architectural achievements, as well as provide an intimate look at the history of Buddhism and other religions of the region.

Museum officials were excited about the opportunity to open the exhibit to conference attendees, said Robert Saarnio, museum director. The conference included workshops, panel discussions, lectures and film screenings of Asian poetry and literature, history, language, art, philosophy and politics.

“These are exactly the kinds of multidisciplinary and cross-campus partnerships that the museum seeks to foster and welcome, wherein great art and artifact content can be exhibited in such close correspondence to curricular, research and teaching endeavors,” Saarnio said.
The museum, at the corner of University Avenue and Fifth Street, is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.

[link]

CARC launches new Gandhara Connections project thanks to support of the Bagri Foundation and the Neil Kreitman Foundation

The Classical Art Research Centre at Oxford University has launched a new project to advance and support the understanding of ancient Gandharan art and its links with the Graeco-Roman world. The project has its origins in an exploratory workshop held by CARC in 2013. Thanks to the support of the Bagri Foundation and the Neil Kreitman Foundation, the Centre will now be able to hold international workshops and other public events over the next three years, to produce open access publications representing the latest thinking about Gandharan art, and to develop a variety of online resources for anyone interested in the subject. These will be available through a new microsite:
www.carc.ox.ac.uk/GandharaConnections

The Buddhist art of Gandhara, in what is now roughly northern Pakistan, has attracted intense interest since the nineteenth century, particularly because of its largely unexplained affinities with the the art of Greece and Roman, thousands of kilometers to the west, as well as other traditions of the Indian Subcontinent and the ‘Silk Road’ regions. The Gandhara Connections project will focus especially on this theme, as well as unresolved questions around the chronology and local geography of Gandharan sculpture.

You can follow us with Twitter or Facebook for further information about the project as it develops, and we shall be making periodic announcements to this email list.


Classical Art Research Centre, University of Oxford
http://www.carc.ox.ac.uk
Twitter: @CARC_Oxford @GandharaConnect
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CARC-Classical-Art-Research-Centre-1616456828604261/
https://www.facebook.com/Gandhara-Connections-318908468479778/?skip_nax_wizard=true

Exploring China’s new frontier e

Reporter: Han Bin 丨 CCTV.com

10-12-2016 13:01 BJT

The Ancient Silk Road was not only a trade route, but also a corridor for ideas to flow.

Today in the Uygur Autonomous Region, the major religion is Islam. Prior to the arrival of Islam, it was Buddhism. One of the greatest legacies from that time is the murals, in the Grottoes of Qiuci, another name for the ancient kingdom of Kucha. 

In today’s episode, reporter Han Bin takes us to see the paintings and what’s being done to restore them.

Entering an ancient kingdom, the paintings reveal a lost oasis on the Silk Road. For the past 18 years, Ye Mei has been investigating their secrets.

“I’ve always been curious to study how murals drawn some 2,000 years ago, have survived to this day. How can we better protect them to extend their survival in the future?” said Ye Mei, director of Institute of Qiuci Grottoes Protection.

Ye Mei told us the grottoes house the cultural achievements of the region’s ancient ethnic groups.

They show that ancient civilization was built on the integration of the dominant Buddhist culture with several other religious cultures.

The murals are rich and diverse in content. But time and the elements have taken their toll. And the actual number of grottoes and murals is still a mystery.

Ye said, “Qiuci was a very inclusive and prosperous society. It was a key hub of the ancient Silk Road, a key melting pot for different cultures. These characteristics are fully reflected in the paintings. Like this figure: he’s a high-ranking nobleman, with short hair, a half-length robe, and a small sword.”

For a long time, Qiuci was the most populous oasis in the Tarim Basin. The Qiuci Grottoes are the most famous Buddhist art site in Xinjiang. The influence of the different civilizations from the West and the East were profound. The glory enjoyed over one thousand years ago still lingers today. Continue reading