Forty-eight Buddhas of Measureless Life: Court Eunuch Patronage at the Sculpture Grottoes of Longmen
Amy McNair presents the 20th Annual Sammy Yukuan Lee Lecture in Chinese Archaeology & Art
Saturday, November 03, 20072:00 PM - 3:30 PM
Fowler Museum of Cultural History
Los Angeles, CA 90095
The centerpiece of the sculpted cave-shrines at Longmen is the colossal Vairocana assembly sponsored by Emperor Gaozong and Empress Wu during the Tang dynasty (618-907). Fifty years after its completion, however, a consortium of court eunuchs added a display of forty-eight Buddha figures to its walls. This intrusive project allows us to explore questions about the spiritual and social purposes of Buddhist statuary and patronage in medieval China.
* * *
Amy McNair is the author of Donors of Longmen: Faith, Politics, and Patronage in Medieval Chinese Buddhist Sculpture, published in 2007 by the University of Hawaii Press. She is Associate Professor of Chinese Art at the University of Kansas, where she teaches and researches early and medieval Chinese art.
* * *
Professor McNair's paper is available on-line. Click here>>
Visit special site on the Sammy Lee Lecture Series
* * *
The Longmen Grottoes (lit., Dragon's Gate Grottoes) are located about 12 km south of the city of Luoyang in Henan Province. The grottoes, which depict Buddhist subjects, stretch about 1 km along the mountains Xiangshan (to the east) and Longmenshan (to the west). The Yi River flows northward between them. The Longmen Grottoes, along with Mogao and Yungang, constitute the most famous ancient sculptural sites in China.
According to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, "The grottoes and niches of Longmen contain the largest and most impressive collection of Chinese art of the late Northern Wei and Tang Dynasties (316-907). These works, entirely devoted to the Buddhist religion, represent the high point of Chinese stone carving."
The Longmen Grottoes consist of more than two thousand caves and niches containing over 100,000 Buddhist images.
In the year 2000, the Longmen Grottoes were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, which "includes 830 properties forming part of the cultural and natural heritage [of] outstanding universal value."
* * *
PARKING: Enter UCLA from Sunset Blvd. at Westwood Plaza. Proceed directly ahead to Lot 4. There is an elevator at the southeast end of Lot 4 and a stairwell at the northeast end, closest to the museum. Parking is $8.
Sponsor(s): Center for Chinese Studies, Fowler Museum at UCLA