Dorothy C. Wong, Nov 6

Speaker: Dorothy C. Wong (Professor, Mcintire Department of Art, University of Virginia)

“Colossal Buddha Statues in China, Past and Present”

Discussant: Jiayi Zhu (PhD student, EALC, University of Chicago)

Friday, Nov 6, 2020
4:45-6:45 pm, Zoom meeting (please find the registration link below)

Beginning in the northwestern region of India, and spreading through Central Asia and the rest of Asia along the Silk Road, the making of colossal Buddha statues has been a major theme in Buddhist art. The colossal Buddha statues predominantly feature Śākyamuni (the Historical Buddha), Maitreya (the Future Buddha), and Vairocana (the Transcendant Buddha), and they were fashioned out of religious devotion and frequently in conjunction with notions of Buddhist kingship. This paper examines the religious, social and political circumstances under which these colossal statues were made, primarily focusing on examples in China made during the first millennium CE. Beginning in the 1990s, there was a revival of making colossal Buddha statues across China and elsewhere. The second part of the paper attempts to address the contemporary phenomenon in China in relation to issues surrounding cultural heritage, religious and cultural identity, ownership, commodification, pilgrimage, and tourism.

Tzu Shan Monastery, Tai Po District, Hong Kong.

Register in advance for this meeting:–ppz0tHNN9O2rKC6BH_FF27A80D9Jj

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.


Dorothy Wong is currently Professor of Art and Director of the East Asia Center at the University of Virginia. Specializing in Buddhist art of medieval China, Dorothy Wong’s research addresses topics of art in relation to religion and society, and of the relationship between religious texts/doctrine and visual representations. In addition to many articles, she has published Chinese Steles: Pre-Buddhist and Buddhist Use of a Symbolic Form (2004; Chinese edition 2011), Hōryūji Reconsidered (editor and contributing author, 2008) China and Beyond in the Medieaval Period: Cultural Crossings and Inter-regional Connections (co-editor with Gustav Heldt, and contributing author, 2014), and Buddhist Pilgrim-Monks as Agents of Cultural and Artistic Transmission: The International Buddhist Art Style in East Asia, ca. 645–770 (2018). Her edited volume, Miraculous Images in Asian Traditions, will be published as volume 50 of the journal Ars Orientalis in late November of 2020.

Jiayi Zhu is a PhD student in East Asian Languages and Civilizations. Her research interest is medieval Buddhist art and the cultural exchanges among China, Japan and Korea. Currently she is curious about the medium of stone.

Special Workshop Series by Wu Hung

Newly Unearthed Tang Tomb Murals of Simulated Shanshui Paintings — What Do They Tell Us?



Details of the landscape mural in the tomb of Han Xiu 韩休 (740), photo by Wu Hung.


The talk will last about 45 min – 1 hour, with about 1 hour afterwards for Q&A moderated by ZOU Yifan (persons in need of assistance please contact


Part 1: Oct 30 (Friday), 5 pm – 7 pm (CDT)

Registration link:

Part 2: Nov 5 (Thursday), 5 pm – 7 pm (CST) *please note CDT to CST transition

Registration link for Part 2: 

Aurelia Campbell, Oct 7

Aurelia Campbell (Associate Professor, Art, Art History, and Film Faculty, Boston College)

“Tibetan Stupa as Protective Force in Early Ming Burials”

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

Wednesday, Oct 7

 4:45-6:45 pm, Zoom meeting (please find the registration link below)



This paper focuses on an unusual early Ming dynasty (1368-1644) brick tomb in Mayishan, Wangcheng County, Hunan. The tomb belongs to a woman named Zhang Miaoshou, who served as the wet nurse of Prince Gu, nineteenth son of the Ming founder, Zhu Yuanzhang. Among the numerous Buddhist artifacts unearthed from the tomb, the most intriguing is a large stone reliquary in the shape of a Tibetan-style stupa, which holds dozens of Buddhist and Daoist scriptures. What was it doing there? By connecting the stupa to a host of earlier material evidence incorporating the written word, this paper argues that the stupa and its contents ultimately served apotropaic and salvific functions. It furthermore makes a case for the significance of the Tibetan-style stupa as a symbol of protection in the post-Mongol world.

Zoom Registration Link:


Aurelia Campbell is Associate Professor in the Department of Art, Art History, and Film at Boston College. Her research centers on the architecture and material culture of the Yuan (1279-1368), Ming (1368-1644), and Qing (1644-1911) periods in China. Campbell’s first book, What the Emperor Built: Architecture and Empire in the Early Ming (University of Washington Press, 2020) examines the construction projects of the famous Yongle emperor to consider how imperial ideology is given form in built space. Addressing how and why his buildings were constructed, the book expands our understanding of “imperial Chinese architecture” as a building typology. Her second book, in progress, explores the relationship between Buddhism and mortuary culture in the Ming and Qing periods. The book will consider Buddhist funerary art and architecture from a large swath of society—including emperors, empresses, princes, eunuchs, monks, and aristocrats—to better understand how conceptions of the afterlife differed according to one’s position in life. The book aims to fill a gap in scholarship on Chinese tombs after the Yuan dynasty. Her research has been supported through grants and fellowships from Millard Meiss Publication Fund, James Geiss Foundation, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Asian Cultural Council, and Metropolitan Center for Far Eastern Art Studies, among others.


Wei-Cheng Lin is Associate Professor in the Department of Art History at the University of Chicago. Lin specializes in the history of Chinese art and architecture, with a focus on medieval period, and has published on both Buddhist and funeral art and architecture of medieval China. His first book, Building a Sacred Mountain: Buddhist Architecture of China’s Mount Wutai, was published in 2014 with the University of Washington Press. He has also written on topics related to traditional architecture in modern China. Lin is currently working on two book projects: Performative Architecture of China, explores architecture’s performative potential through history and the meanings enacted through such architectural performance. Necessarily Incomplete: Fragments of Chinese Artifacts investigate fragments of Chinese artifacts, as well as the cultural practices they solicited and engaged, to locate their agentic power in generating the multivalent significance of those artifacts, otherwise undetectable or overlooked.


Dear friends and colleagues,

We are excited to share our autumn quarter calendar. Due to the University of Chicago’s continuation of remote teaching/learning, we will conduct all sessions virtually for the autumn quarter. Unless otherwise noted, all VMPEA meetings will take place on Wednesdays at 4:45 pm to 6:45 pm (Chicago local time, note there will be a switch from CDT to CST on Nov 1st) via Zoom. The individual meeting link will be sent out along with detailed talk abstract via VMPEA lists one week prior to the talk for registration.

Anonymous, Herd of Deer in a Maple Grove 丹楓呦鹿圖, ink and colors on silk, Five Dynasties Period (907-960), National Palace Museum Taipei.

Oct. 7 (Wed)
Aurelia Campbell (Associate Professor, Art, Art History, and Film Faculty, Boston College)
“The Tibetan Stupa as a Protective Force in Early Ming Burials”
Discussant: Wei-Cheng Lin (Associate Professor of Art History and the College, Department of Art History)


Oct. 21 (Wed)
Nancy P. Lin (PhD candidate, Department of Art History)
“Sites at the Periphery: Performance, Photography, and the Making of Beijing’s ‘East Village’”
Discussant: Madeline Eschenburg (Lecturer, College of Arts and Sciences, Washburn University)


Nov. 6 (Fri)
Dorothy Wong (Professor, Mcintire Department of Art, University of Virginia)
“Colossal Buddha Images in China, Past and present”
Discussant: Jiayi Zhu (PhD student, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations)
*Note: This talk will take place on Friday from 4:45-6:45 pm (CST)


Nov 18 (Wed)
Alan Longino (PhD student, Department of Art History)
“Yutaka Matsuzawa and Looking Around Quantum Art”
Discussant: Orianna Cacchione (Curator of Global Contemporary Art, Smart Museum)


Dec 2 (Wed)
Or Porath (Post-Doctoral Researcher, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations)
“Japan’s Forgotten God: Jūzenji in Literature and the Visual Arts”
Discussant: Ian Cipperly (PhD student, Department of History)
*Collaboration with the APEA


We look forward to seeing you via Zoom and hope you will share this with all who might also be interested in joining our community. Please direct questions and inquiries to Yifan Zou ( and Minori Egashira (
Hope you are staying safe and healthy!

Yifan + Minori
VMPEA Graduate Student Coordinators 2020-21