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Enacting Buddhism: Perspectives on Cambodian Buddhist Painting

Panel Discussion | January 31 | 3 p.m. |  Institute of East Asian Studies (2223 Fulton, 6th Floor)

Pattaratorn Chirapravati, Art Department, California State University Sacramento; Erik W. Davis, Religious Studies, Macalester College; Teri Yamada, Asian and Asian American Studies, California State University - Long Beach; Joel Montague, Collector of Cambodian Buddhist Art; Trent Walker, Ph.D. Candidate, Group in Buddhist Studies, UC Berkeley

Caverlee Cary, Institute of East Asian Studies, UC Berkeley

Institute of East Asian Studies (IEAS), Center for Buddhist Studies, Center for Southeast Asia Studies, Department of South & Southeast Asian Studies

Guest speakers discuss the place of Cambodian temple painting in culture, custom, social life and religious education, as well as the larger context of Southeast Asian arts. This panel is organized in conjunction with the exhibit "Framing the Sacred: Cambodian Buddhist Painting," on view at the Institute of East Asian Studies through March 20, 2014.


Trent Walker, Ph.D. Candidate, UC Berkeley
Walker will offer a close reading and discuss the cultural and religious implications of two striking but unusual paintings from the exhibition. His presentation is entitled: "Buddhist Painting in the People's Republic of Kampuchea (1979–89): King Suddhodana's Illness and Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī's Gift of the Triple Robe"

Erik W. Davis, Religious Studies, Macalester College
Buddhist murals as an evolving and capacious space of the imagination (or, in Corbin's terms, the 'imaginal'). Professor Davis will explore this dimension of the tradition, and the evolution of national and Buddhist identities in mural paintings.

Teri Yamada, Asian and Asian American Studies, California State University - Long Beach
Using the example of the Buddhist temple, Wat Dhammararam in Stockton, California, Professor Yamada explore the evolution of its interior in the context of the politicization of Cambodian temple paintings from the 1950s to the 1990s.

Joel Montague, Collector of Cambodian Buddhist Art
Montague, whose collection is currently on display in the exhibition "Framing the Sacred: Cambodian Buddhist Painting" will discuss his experience of these works in the social and religious context of Cambodia.

Pattaratorn Chirapravati, Art Department, California State University Sacramento
The Cambodian preah bot are part of a tradition and spans the Theravada Buddhist world. Professor Chirapravati will offer a comparison with paintings in neighboring Thailand.

Speaker Bios:

Pattaratorn Chirapravati is a member of the Art Department at California State University Sacramento, specializing in the art of mainland Southeast Asia (i.e., Thailand, Cambodia and Burma). Prior to her appointment in 2001, Chirapravati was the Assistant Curator of Southeast Asian Art at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, where she co-curated "The Kingdom of Siam: Art from Central Thailand (1350-1800).” She earned her Ph.D. in Art History and Southeast Asian Studies from Cornell University in 1994 and a Master's degree in Indian art and philosophy from Ohio State University in 1984. She is interested in the political uses of religious icons and the interpretation of religious practices from art works. Her publications include a book, Votive Tablets in Thailand: Origin, Styles and Uses (Oxford University Press, 1987), and numerous articles on the topics of votive tablets and Buddhist art.

Erik Davis studies and teaching about Buddhism, ritual, and the theory of religion. He is particularly interested in funerals, everyday practices, agriculture, and unions. Lately he spends a lot of time trying to figure out the connection between religious images and practices and political and union protest movements in Cambodia. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, and lived in Cambodia from 2003-2006. His book on Cambodian funerals, rituals, and the imagination of death, "Deathpower: Imagining Cambodian Religion," will be published by Columbia University Press in 2014.

Teri Shaffer Yamada is a member of the Asian and Asian-American Studies department of California State University Long Beach. She received a BA in Asian Studies from UC Santa Barbara, an MA in Southeast Asian Languages and Literatures and a Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from UC Berkeley. She edited the first anthology of Southeast Asian short fiction in English, Virtual Lotus: Modern Fiction of Southeast Asia. In 2009, its companion volume was published, Modern Short Fiction of Southeast Asia: A Literary History. As of summer 2002, she has organized the "Nou Hach Literary Journal," devoted to modern Cambodian literature and cultural studies.

During his long career as a public health officer, Joel Montague spent considerable time in Cambodia, becoming deeply interested in its culture and religious arts. In recent years Montague has written several books on topics related to Southeast Asia, including "The Colonial Good Life" with Michael G. Vann (2008), "Picture Postcards of Cambodia, 1900 -1950" (2010), and a forthcoming volume co-authored with Jim Mizerski on the early years of John Thomson, the first photographer of Angkor. Selected examples from his extensive collection of Cambodian Buddhist painting are current on view in “Framing the Sacred: Cambodian Buddhist Painting.”

Trent Walker is a PhD student in the Group in Buddhist Studies at UC Berkeley, where his research focuses on Thai-Khmer bilingualism in the intertwined histories of Buddhism in Cambodia and Siam. Trent has also published on Khmer liturgical practices and produced several CDs of traditional Khmer music for Cambodian Living Arts. The catalog for the present exhibit was his first opportunity to write about Southeast Asian art., 510-642-2809