Lecturer: Dorothy C. Wong - Professor of East Asian Art, Department of Art History, University of Virginia
As Buddhism spread broadly across East Asia during the seventh and eighth centuries, the rich records of Buddhist material culture from that period demonstrate the use of a broad range of materials and a variety of methods in producing devotional and ritual artifacts. These include sculptures in wood, metal, stone, dry lacquer, and two-dimensional images and Buddhist narratives on wall murals, silk, paper, and embroideries. Buddhist sacred texts were translated into Chinese and copied. A key teaching in Mahāyāna Buddhism, the form of Buddhism that prevailed in East Asia, advocates devotional acts, such as the making of images, recitation of Buddha names or copying of sutras to accrue merit for the next life or to transfer the merit to others. Devotees and donors of a broad social background commissioned whatever they could afford to express their piety through image-making or copying of Buddhist sūtras. Such a desire to dedicate vast quantities of images and texts contributed to innovations in techniques that were pre-cursors to mass production and printing. This talk examines the religious and cultural milieu of the period, with a focus on the practices and evidence of efforts to mass produce Buddhist images as well as texts.