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Zsuzsanna Gulacsi: "The Pictorial Canon of a Silk Road Religion: Mani's Picture-Book and the Study of Manichean Didactic Art"

April 27, 2012 - 7:30pm
Building 250, Room 111 (EALC Reading Room), Main Quad

Free and open to the public.

Didactic paintings played an integral role in Manichaeism throughout its 1400-year history. Known as Mani's Picture, or Picture-Book, a collection of paintings was originally created in mid-3rd century Mesopotamia with direct involvement from Mani (216-76 CE) and continued to be adapted to a wide variety of artistic and cultural norms as the religion spread across the Asian continent. Until recently, no examples of these paintings have been identified. This lecture is based on an extensive study of a newly identified corpus of primary visual sources that are analyzed in light of written records and interpreted within the wider, pan-Asiatic practice of “picture-recitation,” or “story-telling with images.” To a lesser degree, teaching with images is documented from Judaism, Eastern Christianity, Iranian Islam, and Buddhism -- religious traditions that were active alongside Manichaeism in 3rd-8th century West Asia, 8th-12th century Central Asia, and 8th-17th century East Asia. The Manichaean case, however, is unique, since the followers of Mani attributed a canonical status to their collection of didactic art, which is unparalleled by in any other religion that spread across the trade routes of the Asian continent. 


Zsuzsanna Gulacsi, North Arizona University, Flagstaff

Speaker's Bio

Dr. Zsuzsanna Gulacsi is a historian of Asian religious art.  She came to the U.S. from her native Hungary to do graduate work at Indiana University, where she received the Ph.D. in 1998.  She taught at Sophia University in Tokyo between 1999-2003, and joined the faculty of the Department of Humanities, Arts, and Religion at Northern Arizona University in 2003.  She has numerous publications on Manichean art.  Her current research encompasses early Manichean and Christian art of Syro-Mesopotamia, Mesopotamian Jewish Biblical narrative in light of Manichean and Buddhist analogies, and Mani's Picture-Book.


Event Sponsor: 
Silkroad Foundation, Center for East Asian Studies (CEAS)
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