Seminar 6: Eugene WANG (Harvard CAMLab):“Permanent Impermanence: Why Buddhists Built Towers?”
Eugene Y. Wang is the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Professor of Asian Art. A Guggenheim Fellow (2005), he is the art history editor of the Encyclopedia of Buddhism (2004). His extensive publications range from early Chinese to contemporary art. His book, Shaping the Lotus Sutra: Buddhist Visual Culture in Medieval China (2005), which received an academic award from Japan, explores Buddhist ways of worldmaking.
He has served on advisory boards and review committees for the Center for Advanced Study in Visual Art, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, Getty Foundation, Mellon Foundation, etc.
His current research focuses on cognitive study of art. He is working on a book on Sonic Painting, probing the unheard soundscape and voice effect in pictures..
He is also the founding director of the Harvard FAS CAMLab (Chinese Art Media Lab). The lab explores multimedia storytelling and designs immersive artistic experience, turning humanistic research into creative sensorial media practice.
Lecture 3: Birgit KELLNER (Austrian Academy of Sciences): “Philosophy and the study of Buddhism: Perspectives and Problems” (Lecture 2, Segment 2)
About the speaker
Lecture 4: Monika ZIN (Saxon Academy of Sciences and Humanities /Leipzig University): “The Buddha, the Dead and the Demons”
The Buddha, the Dead and the Demons
The extant cave complexes of the Buddhist world, especially those in which sculptures and paintings have been preserved, are of particular importance for research into the real-life faith of both monks and the community. This holds true already for India: The student of the caves in Ajanta in central India may be surprised by the importance of nature deities – yakṣas and nāgas – to whom separate chapels were dedicated in the immediate vicinity of the gandhakuṭī of the Buddha. An incomparably larger corpus of pictorial, inscriptional and manuscript material is provided by the cave complexes of Kucha on the Northern Silk Road; here, images of terrifying demons attacking the Buddha or – in other scenes – worshipping him were obviously among the most popular topics. We also see shocking pictures of graveyards with meditating monks, in caves that were apparently close to the real burial sites. We see pretas and beings from the hells to whom no one but the Buddha can provide help. From the extant writings we learn about the śrādha rituals for the dead and about offerings to the evil local spirits, the naivāsikas. What Schopen and DeCaroli were only able to demonstrate in the preserved writings, can be confirmed in Kucha, drawing on the extensive pictorial material.
DeCaroli, Robert, 2004, Haunting the Buddha, Indian Popular Religions and the Formation of Buddhism. Oxford / New York: Oxford University Press.
Schopen, Gregory, 2004, Immigrant Monks and the Proto-historical Dead: The Buddhist Occupation on Early Burial Sites in India. In: Buddhist Monks and Business Matters. Still More Papers on Monastic Buddhism in India, Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, pp. 360–381.
Schopen, Gregory, 2014, On Buddhist Monks and Dreadful Deities: Some Monastic Devices for Updating the Dharma. In: Buddhist Nuns, Monks, and Other Worldly Matters: Recent Papers on Monastic Buddhism in India. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, pp. 333–357.
About the speaker
Prof. Monika Zin is the head of the research group “Buddhist Murals of Kucha on the Northern Silk Road” at the Saxon Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Leipzig, Germany.
She studied Dramatics, Literature, Art History, and Indology in Krakow and Munich where she also taught Art of South and Central Asia for 25 years.
Zin’s dissertation focussed on the Sanskrit dramas discovered in Trivandrum; for her second dissertation (Habilitation) she studied the paintings at Ajanta. Among her research contributions are monographs (Ajanta – Handbook of the Paintings 2: Devotional and Ornamental Paintings, Wiesbaden 2003; Compassion and Miracles. Difficult conversions and their iconography in Indian Buddhism, Wiesbaden 2007; [with Dieter Schlingloff] Saṃsāracakra. The Wheel of Rebirth in the Indian Tradition, Munich 2007; all written in German; English editions will be published in India) as well as numerous shorter studies on Buddhist narrative art ranging from Kucha in Central Asia to Borobudur on Java. One of her long-term research interests is the art of ancient Āndhradeśa; her book on the stūpa at Kanaganahalli (Karnataka) was published in Delhi in 2018.
Her book Representations of the Parinirvāṇa Story Cycle in Kucha, the second volume of the Leipzig Kucha Studies, will be released later this year.