Rufei Luo, March 6

Luo Rufei, PhD candidate, Zhejiang University; exchange student, University of Chicago

“A Preliminary Research on Murals of Thousand Buddhas in Tibet:

Starting with the Zhabs Cave at Be Gdong of Rtswa Mda’ County of Mnga’ Ris Prefecture in Western Tibet”

Respondent: Dongshan Zhang, PhD candidate, Department of Art History

Friday, March 6, 2020

4:30-6:30 pm, CWAC 152

Refreshments will be provided


Abstract: This paper mainly focuses on the murals of Thousand Buddhas in Tibet to discover the cult of Mahāyāna Buddhism and “Buddha” in Tibet from the beginning of the Phyi dar Period (the Second Propagation of Tibetan Buddhism) in the 11th century. In addition, as the influence of “Tantrism” was growing in Tibet in this period, these images started to reveal a kind of “tantric” implication which showed a combination of Mahāyāna Buddhism and Tantrism. This paper starts with a case study on the murals of the Zhabs Cave at Rtswa mda’ County in Ngari Prefecture of Western Tibet. This case mainly consists of Mahāyāna motifs, including the Thousand Buddha motifs in the main chamber, as well as the images of Wheel of Rebirth, a Six-armed Avalokiteśvara, Jātaka tales among other images on the corridor.

Corridor and main chamber of the Zhabs Cave, Rtswa mda’ County, Ngari. Photo by author, 2019.

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Rufei Luo is currently a visiting student in the Department of Art History, the University of Chicago. She is a PhD candidate in Zhejiang University, studying Tibetan Buddhist Art under the guidance of Prof. Jisheng Xie. During her graduate study, she had experiences on fieldwork of the Buddhist relics in Tibet and many other places around China with the Center for Buddhist Art at Zhejiang University. She has co-edited the Diaosu Yishu: Jiangnan Juan (Art of Sculpture: Volume of Jiangnan) in The Collection of Tibetan Fine Art, which was published in 2019.


Dongshan Zhang is a PhD candidate in the Department of Art History, the University of Chicago. His interests are the Arts of the steppe peoples, who formed the Five Dynasties, Liao, Xia, Jin, and Yuan China(s). Before he came to Chicago, Dongshan completed coursework and internships at Chinese University of Hong Kong, Palace Museum (Beijing), Williams College, Columbia University, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His MA thesis deals with the flowers and birds in a Yuan dynasty wall painting, Medicine Buddha Bhaisajyaguru.



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