Donors of Longmen: Faith, Politics, And Patronage in Medieval Chinese Buddhist Sculpture

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University of Hawaii Press, Jan 1, 2007 - Art - 230 pages
Donors of Longmen is the first work in a Western language to re-create the history of the Longmen Grottoes, one of China's great stone sculpture treasure houses. Longmen, a UNESCO World Heritage site located near the old capital of Luoyang in modern Henan Province, consists of thousands of ancient cave chapels and shrines containing Buddhist icons of all sizes that were carved into the towering limestone cliffs from the fifth to the eighth centuries. Beyond its superb sculpture, Longmen also preserves thousands of engraved dedicatory inscriptions by its donors, who included emperors and empresses, aristocrats, court eunuchs, artisans, monks, nuns, lay societies, female palace officials, male civil and military officials, and ordinary lay believers. Based on wide reading of both Asian and Western-language scholarship and careful analysis of the architecture, epigraphy, and iconography of the site, Amy McNair provides a rich and detailed examination of the dynamics of faith, politics, and money at Longmen, beginning with the inception of the site at Guyang Grotto in 493 and concluding with the last major dated project, the forty-eight Amitabhas added to the Great Vairocana Image Shrine in 730. Through her sensitive and well-informed exploration of Longmen's huge repository of remarkable early sculpture, McNair gives voice to a wide array of medieval believers, many of them traditionally excluded from history. Hers will be the definitive work on Longmen for years to come.

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User Review  - pbjwelch - LibraryThing

I've read this book twice (once several years back and now as I embark in a few days on a visit to Longmen) and although it is NOT a guidebook, I cannot think of a finer text to read before visiting ... Read full review


One Emperor as Tathāgata
Two The Mechanics of a Karmic Gift of Sculpture
Three The Rhetoric of Expenditure
Four The Politics of Filial Piety
Five Cīnasthāna Preserves the Dharma
Seven The Satellite Grottoes
Eight Salvation for One
Chinese Texts of Longmen Inscriptions

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