Qiang Ning:"Understanding Buddhist Art: 'Buddhist Icons with Magic Power'"
Does a Buddhist icon carry magic power? Could a Buddha image change into two bodies in the eyes of devoted viewers? And, more generally, what is the essential function of visual art in Buddhism? Join art historian Qiang Ning as he explores these questions and many others in his thought-provoking analysis of Buddhist images from the Dunhuang cave-shrines in Northwest China. The caves, located at a strategic oasis on the Silk Road, remained a center of Buddhist art for more than 1,000 years, ultimately sustaining an incomparable complex of 492 temples. Qiang Ning is especially interested in the aptly named “miraculous images” created during the Tibetan-occupation period and throughout the 9th and 10th centuries. He will use these to ground a more general discussion of the meaning and function of Buddhist art in medieval China.
Ning Qiang worked at the Dunhuang Research Academy for 7 years as a researcher of Buddhist art in the Gobi desert in northwestern China before going to Harvard University for his Ph.D. degrees in art history in 1991. He has been teaching Asian art at Yale, San Diego State and the University of Michigan since 1997 and now he is the Chu-Niblack Associate Professor of Asian Art at Connecticut College.
Understanding Buddhist Art is a series of quarterly seminars designed to help us understand and appreciate Buddhist art. Co-sponsored by Stanford’s Ho Center for Buddhist Studies and Stanford Continuing Studies, each seminar will take us to a different part of the Buddhist world, and to different periods in its cultural history, with richly illustrated lectures and discussion.