Sylvia Fan Wu, October 13

Speaker: Sylvia Fan Wu (Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Art History)

“Inscribing Piety: Monumental Inscriptions from Quanzhou”

Discussant: Wei-cheng Lin (Associate Professor of Art History and the College, Department of Art History)

Wednesday, October 13th, 2021

4:45 – 6:45 pm CST, Hybrid (In-person in CWAC 152 + Zoom)

*If you would like to attend in-person, please use this form to sign-up; If you would like to attend remotely, you may register here to receive the zoom link. 

*Based on the university policy on COVID, we will only be able to allow maximum 25 people inside the venue, and mask will be required throughout the event. 


Quanzhou’s Ashab Mosque has often been discussed for its foreign-looking architectural forms and the material choice of stone. Few have contemplated the Quranic verses that were carved onto both the interior and exterior walls of the mosque complex. These monumental inscriptions constitute the majority of the sober decorative program in this Muslim sanctuary and are imbued with iconographic meanings that speak to piety. This paper examines the inscriptions found in the Ashab Mosque and around the city of Quanzhou and explores the pious messaging behind their formal, iconographic and material qualities.


The Ashab Mosque, qibla wall, 14th or 16th century, Quanzhou, China (Credit: Cherie Wendelken)


Sylvia Wu is a PhD candidate in the Department of Art History at the University of Chicago. She studies the architecture and material culture of medieval Indian Ocean with a particular focus on China’s coastal areas. Her dissertation, Mosques of Elsewhere, examines how knowledge of legendary monuments of the Islamic world had informed the blueprints of mosque building in China’s southeastern ports, or rather distracted us from recognizing the mosques’ local attributions.

Wei-Cheng Lin is Associate Professor in the Department of Art History at the University of Chicago. He specializes in the history of Chinese art and architecture with a focus on medieval periods. His primary interests of research are visual and material cultural issues in Buddhist art and architecture and China’s funerary practice through history. He is the author of Building a Sacred Mountain: The Buddhist Architecture of China’s Mount Wutai, published by the University of Washington Press in 2014. He has additionally published on a variety of topics, including collecting history, photography and architecture, historiography of Chinese architectural history, and contemporary Chinese art.


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