Calculation and Cosmography: Formal Continuities in Buddhist Art along the Gansu Corridor, from Dunhuang to Labrang Monastery

Lecture | March 13 | 5-7 p.m. | 180 Doe Library

 Jon Soriano, UC Berkeley

 Tang Center for Silk Road Studies

While the art history of the overland silk road seems distinguished by its continual flux, as disparate visual regimes flowed in and out over the centuries, the art in question is also marked by strong formal continuities specific to its regions, as well as certain adaptations to global paradigms. This talk adopts Kublerian concepts of 'shape' and 'sequence' to identify a formal series instantiated by a range of Buddhist objects and sites, a series structured by an underlying drive toward exactitude. Objects in this series are concatenated from recent fieldwork at a variety of sites along the silk road in western China, primarily around Gansu and Qinghai Provinces. These sites include early and later Dunhuang caves, the 18th century architecture at Labrang Monastery, and various places in between. Positing such a continuity may help shape a larger concept of Buddhist art history.

Jon Soriano is a PhD Candidate in the History of Art department at UC Berkeley, working with his advisor Pat Berger on a dissertation regarding the material culture of the Kālacakra tantra between the Gelugpa Gaden Phodrang and the Qing court. Jon has master's degrees in Asian Studies and Ethnology, and has worked for the National Palace Museum in Taipei and the Berkeley Art Museum. He is the current recipient of the Dallan and Karen Leong Clancy Fund for Silk Road Studies, as well as funding from the Dunhuang Foundation.