Guest Lecture: The Visual Culture of Buddhist Maṇḍalas at Dunhuang

Watch the full lecture on YouTube:

Watch the full lecture on Youku:

Guest Lecture: The Visual Culture of Buddhist Maṇḍalas at Dunhuang


Speaker: Michelle C. Wang (Georgetown University)

Time: Thursday Oct 18, 2018, 1:30pm.

Venue: UBC Asian Centre, Room 604

Sponsors: Tianzhu Network for the Study of Buddhist Cultures and SSHRC-sponsored project “From the Ground Up: Buddhism and East Asian Religions”





Between the eighth to tenth centuries, profound developments in Buddhist practice and Buddhist art were underway in the Silk Road oasis city of Dunhuang, located in northwestern China.  These were precipitated by the interaction between the Chinese and Tibetan populations of Dunhuang, the traces of which can be seen in Buddhist paintings and manuscripts from the Mogao and Yulin cave shrines.  This talk articulates a view of the Silk Road that focuses on long-term, localized contacts rather than the more commonly assumed long-distance east-west exchanges.  In the process, we will discover how and why maṇḍalas are crucial for understanding the visual processes of Silk Road intercultural exchange as well as the history of Buddhism.

About the Speaker:

Michelle C. Wang is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art and Art History at Georgetown University.  As a specialist in medieval Chinese art, her publications have addressed Buddhist maṇḍalas, Dunhuang painting, and Silk Road material culture.  Her first book, Maṇḍalas in the Making: The Visual Culture of Esoteric Buddhism at Dunhuang addresses the Maṇḍala of Eight Great Bodhisattvas (an iconographic template in which a central Buddha is flanked by eight attendants) during the Tibetan (786–848) and Guiyijun (848–1036) periods at Dunhuang, and examines it in light of the religious and artistic dialogue between Chinese and Tibetan communities at Dunhuang.  Her current book project examines Buddhist sculpture and materiality.