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Return of the Elephants: Problems of Mistaken Buddhist Identities for the art of Early Imperial China

March 3, 2011 - 7:30pm
Building 380 - 380W, Main Quad

The Silk Road Lecture Series, Winter 2010-11 presents:

Minku Kim Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Stanford University

The talk will explore iconographic issues of certain artistic motifs of Eastern Han to Jin-period China (such as the lotus, elephants, etc.) that have been associated with Buddhism. This aims to argue that the widely-accepted assumption that those motifs had anything to do with the advent of the Indian religion is largely fictional, resulting from such factors as misidentification, ignorance of classical iconography, inadequate command of textual and epigraphic philology, and anachronistic teleological reasoning.The iconographic reassessment will enable us to accurately place the early Buddhist contribution to Chinese material culture and to identify other equally important sources of influence such as the nomads of the northern steppes and Iranian-speaking neighbors along the Silk Routes, so that we will come to a better understanding of early imperial material culture in the proper Eurasian context.

MINKU KIM is the 2010-2012 Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Stanford Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, specializing in the Buddhist arts of medieval China. Kim earned his B.A. and M.A. from the Department of Archaeology and Art History at Seoul National University, and his Ph.D. in Art History at UCLA. His primary research concerns Buddhist images and ritual architecture of Six Dynasties (220-589 CE) China.

Free and open to the public.

Event Sponsor: 
The Silk Road Foundation and the Center for East Asian Studies.
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