About the Programs of the Buddhist Cave Paintings of Kucha

About the Programs of the Buddhist Cave Paintings of Kucha

Mural of bodhisattvas in the Kumtura Thousand Buddha Caves. Art of Kucha. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons; public domain.

A CBS colloquium talk by Prof. Monika Zin (Saxon Academy of Sciences and Humanities & Leipzig University).

Monday, November 6, 2023
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM (Pacific Time)
Royce Hall, Room 243

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The number of paintings in the caves in Kucha on the Northern Silk Road (Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the People’s Republic of China) is unique. This large corpus allows us to identify repetitions of certain topics and motifs, which were represented in the same locations in different caves. The placement of these paintings, most of which are narrative in character, invites us to think about the pictorial programmes of the caves, and on whether their potential usage for ritual purposes can be deduced from them. However, obviously the principle of symmetry was strictly applied to the placement of the paintings; this, it seems, not always aimed at conveying a deeper meaning, but rather catered to the – intriguing and hitherto unexplained – desire to create a space where the compositional patterns of paintings are mirrored; a desire that fundamentally influenced the selection of depicted subjects.

Dr. Monika Zin studied literature, art history and Indology in Krakow and Munich. After teaching Art History of South, Southeast and Central Asia in Munich, Leipzig and Berlin, Zin currently leads the research group “Buddhist Murals of Kucha on the Northern Silk Road.” She contributed numerous articles on Buddhist narrative art, and books on Ajanta paintings and the Kanaganahalli Stūpa (An Analysis of the 60 Massive Slabs Covering the Dome). Her books on Representations of the Parinirvāṇa Story Cycle and Gods, Deities, and Demons in the Paintings of Kucha, discuss among others the Central Asian afterlife of Indian culture in the Buddhist sites in Kucha.

Open to the public but registration required This is an in-person event and masks are recommended

Cost : Free

Jennifer Jung-Kim