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Buddhist Painting, Painters and Performance

Lecture | April 12 | 5-7 p.m. | 370 Dwinelle Hall


Ronald M. Davidson, Fairfield University

Center for Buddhist Studies


From the Gupta-Vākāṭaka period forward, Buddhist rituals featured painting on cloth and other media as part of their increasingly elaborate ritual program. The paintings from Ajanta, Bedsa and other sites in India exemplify in some measure the importance of painting systems for Indian Buddhists. In Buddhist usage, both the painter and paintings were sanctified with ritual systems that conferred on them a specific authority, including signs of accomplishment and powers gained through their use as material spirituality. The specifically Indian values associated with painting have not been given sufficient consideration, and the presentation will discuss the confluence between Buddhist ideology, Indian uses of portraiture, ritual, memory, aesthetic reflection and representation.

Dr. Ronald M. Davidson is Professor of Religious Studies at Fairfield University, Connecticut. He received his AB (1971), MA (1980) and Ph.D. (1985) from the University of California, Berkeley, specializing in Indian and Tibetan Buddhist Studies, although also trained in Chinese Buddhist documents. His area of expertise is in the social and linguistic dynamics of Buddhist ritual, particular associated the use of mantras, dhāraṇīs and Indian tantrism, and has translated texts from Sanskrit, Tibetan and Chinese. He has published five single-authored or edited volumes, and dozens of articles, most recently a series on the mantra literature of Buddhism in late classical India of the Gupta-Vākāṭaka period.


buddhiststudies@berkeley.edu