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Susan Whitfield: "Understanding Buddhist Art : Buddhism and Trade on the Eastern Silk Road"

Saturday February 8th 2014, 1:00 - 4:00PM
Event Sponsor
Continuing Studies, Ho Center for Buddhist Studies at Stanford
Annenberg Auditorium, Cummings Art Building
Susan Whitfield: "Understanding Buddhist Art : Buddhism and Trade on the Eastern Silk Road"


Join Susan Whitfield, historian of medieval China, as she introduces the discovery of the rich Buddhist remains of the Eastern Silk Road—the art, architecture, artifacts, and manuscripts—including some of the most recent and exciting finds. Her talk will consider how these finds have informed scholarship over the past century and, most especially, our understanding of Buddhism. This seminar will then raise the question of whether long-distance prestige trade—the so-called “Silk Road”—was an essential or even a necessary condition in the development of Buddhism, looking in particular at Buddhist stupas and cave temples. If trade is seen as a factor, what can the Buddhist remains tell us about the nature and extent of trade?


Susan Whitfield, Director of the International Dunhuang Project, British Library.

Susan Whitfield is a historian of medieval China and the Silk Road and curator of the Stein and related collections of 50,000 Central Asian manuscripts from Dunhuang and other Silk Road sites at the British Library. She directs the International Dunhuang Project (, a collaboration to make all related material freely accessible online. She has curated several major exhibitions, lectures internationally, and has published many books and articles. She also travels regularly along the Silk Road.

“Understanding Buddhist Art” is a series of quarterly Saturday seminars. Co-sponsored by Stanford’s Ho Center for Buddhist Studies and Stanford Continuing Studies, each seminar takes us to a different part of the Buddhist world, and to a different period in its cultural history, with richly illustrated lectures and discussion.