HAA 283G - Buddhist Visualization: Dunhuang Caves





Eugene Wang

Thursdays, 3:00 pm - 5:45 pm


The cluster of embellished caves at Dunhuang, China, is among the largest decorated Buddhist cave complexes in the world, spanning the fourth to the fourteenth century. With 492 caves decorated with murals and sculptures, Dunhuang is the largest art gallery in situ in the world. The course explores the visual programs of Dunhuang caves. The disparate textual sources on which the murals are based do not explain their convergence in the same cave. A deep logic of world-making binds them together. Using available digital reconstructions that proffer spatial experience of the Dunhuang caves, we address some key questions: how do disparate murals in each cave add up to form a program and imply a process? What process? How do these cave visualize and stage the Buddhist spacetime and mental theater of meditation?