Chinese Steles: Pre-Buddhist and Buddhist Use of a Symbolic Form
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248pp. September 2004
Chinese Steles: Pre-Buddhist and Buddhist Use of a Symbolic Form
Author: Wong, Dorothy C.;
Buddhist steles represent an important subset of early Chinese Buddhist art that flourished during the Northern and Southern Dynasties period (386–581). More than two hundred Chinese Buddhist steles are known to have survived. Their brilliant imagery has long captivated scholars, yet until now the Buddhist stele as a unique art form has received little scholarly attention. Dorothy Wong rectifies that insufficiency by providing in this well-illustrated volume the first comprehensive investigation of this group of Buddhist monuments. She traces the ancient roots of the Chinese stele tradition and investigates the process by which Chinese steles were adapted for Buddhist use. She arranges the known corpus of Buddhist steles into broad chronological and regional groupings and analyzes not only their form and content but also the nexus of complex issues surrounding this art form—from cultural symbolism to the interrelations between religious doctrine and artistic expression, economic production, patronage, and the synthesis of native and foreign art styles. In her analysis of Buddhism’s dialogue with native traditions, Wong demonstrates how the Chinese artistic idiom planted the seeds for major achievements in figural and landscape arts in the ensuing Sui and Tang periods.

illus., maps

“An exceptional work, useful for those unfamiliar with the genre of steles yet thorough enough to satisfy a scholarly need for depth ... Extremely thorough in its analysis and clear in its approach” —CAA.reviews, 19 June 2006

“An elegant volume, amply illustrated, and the photographs are on the whole very clear, carefully placed in the text, and well elucidated” —H-Buddhism, H-Net Reviews, May 2006

Author: Wong, Dorothy C.;
Dorothy C. Wong is associate professor of East Asian art at the University of Virginia.
Read the introduction (PDF).



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