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Maritime Buddhist Art of the East Asian “Mediterranean,” ca. 900–1200

Hsueh-Man Shen, The Institute of Fine Arts, NYU

April 27, 2023 · 4:30 pm6:00 pm · 010 East Pyne

Department of Art & Archaeology

How did maritime connectivity reconfigure the cultural boundaries of Buddhist East Asia during the medieval period? What is the role of seafaring ports in object mobility and in forming a Buddhist art different from that derived from the land routes of transmission? This lecture examines how the interwoven networks of ports and intermediaries facilitated the production and circulation of Buddhist artisanal crafts across the China Seas around the 10th to the 13th centuries. It will show that an ever-increasing need to guide and protect ships at sea gave rise to new forms of art, while also endowing existing forms and symbols with new meanings. Moreover, the particulars of boats and ships dictated the sizes, scale, as well as the types of art and artifacts transportated across the sea. Going beyond territorial boundaries, this “maritime Buddhist art” show features that refute the center-periphery model often applied to the history of East Asian Buddhist art.

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