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Daoxuan and the Medieval Chinese Encounter with Relics and Images
LI Yicong 李怡淙
University of Oxford
Abstract: This article uses an art-historical perspective to examine the spatiotemporal transmission and stylistic evolution of the four-pointed cape costume in Buddhist images from Northwest India. This costume first appeared between the second century and the fourth century CE on certain Gandhāran sculptures of Kushan donors, and then, by the fifth century CE, in the bejewelled Buddha imagery, denoting the figures’ dominating power. In the postGandhāran period between the sixth century and the eighth century CE, bejewelled Buddha images from north-eastern Afghanistan, northern Pakistan, and Kashmir adopted modified and stylised cape motifs that were influenced by Gandhāran, Iranian, and indigenous Indian traditions to different extents. Meanwhile, the stylised capes spread to Central Asia, Byzantium, and China, reflecting the influence of the late Buddhist art of Northwest India on the surrounding regions.
Keywords: four-pointed cape, bejewelled Buddha, Gandhāran art, Buddhist iconography
About the Author: Yicong Li 李怡淙 is currently a first‐year D.Phil. student in Archaeology at the University of Oxford and a member of Wolfson College. Her research focuses on the material culture of ancient Gandhāra, especially the diffusion of Gandhāran royal imagery. Before starting her D.Phil., Yicong obtained her M.Phil. and B.A. in Art History from Tsinghua University. She was awarded scholarships from The Karun Thakar Fund (in collaboration with the Victoria and Albert Museum) in 2021 and The China Oxford Scholarship Fund in 2022.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.