China Westward: Schedule, Panels & Papers

Reimagining the Interwoven Material and Cultural Histories of China, Central Asia, and the Himalayas

Photo: Li Shuai, Tibet

Schedule — October 14-15

Day 1 — Saturday, October 14: GROUND/NETWORK/TRANSMISSION

8:45 AM – 9:00 AM — Opening Remarks
Speakers: Mark Wu, Leonard W.J. van der Kuijp, Eugene Y. Wang

9:00 AM – 10:30 AM — Panel 1: Transmission, Exchange, and Diffusion: Insights from Tibet, China, and Sogdiana
Chair: Leonard W.J. van der Kuijp, Discussant: Deborah Klimburg-Salter
Panelists: Wei Huo (remote), Cuilan Liu, Matteo Campareti (remote)

Short 10-minute break

10:40 AM – 12:10 PM — Panel 2: Sculpting Faith, Painting Devotion: Buddhist Narratives and Visual Transmissions from South to East Asia
Chair: Michelle McCoy, Discussant: Monika Zin
Panelists: Li Ling (remote), Nobuyoshi Yamabe, Xuecheng Shao

12:10 PM – 1:10 PM — Lunch break

1:10 PM – 2:40 PM — Panel 3: Unveiling Tibetan Antiquity: Rituals, Civilizations, and Cultural Crossroads
Chair: Deborah Klimburg-Salter, Discussant: Cuilan Liu
Panelists: Mark Aldenderfer, Charles Ramble, Shuai Li

3:00 PM – 4:30 PM — Panel 4: Navigating Celestial Bodies: Astrology, Cosmology, and Artistic Expression
Chair: Monika Zin, Discussant: Michael Norton
Panelists: Matthew P. Canepa, Michelle McCoy, Jeffrey Kotyk


9:00 AM – 10:30 AM — Panel 5: Rock as Canvas: Pictorial Expressions of Divinity in Cliffs and Manmade Grottoes
Chair: Michael Norton, Discussant: Michelle McCoy
Panelists: Monika Zin, Sophie Xiaofei Lei, Jisheng Xie (remote)

Short 10-minute break

10:40 AM – 12:10 PM — Panel 6: Mortality and Transcendence: Relationships Between Stupa, Funerary Practices, and Monastic Painting
Chair: Eugene Y. Wang, Discussant: Jeffrey Kotyk
Panelists: Tao Tong (remote), Chai Yee Leow, Deborah Klimburg-Salter

12:10 PM – 12:20PM — Closing Remarks
Speakers: Leonard W.J. van der Kuijp, Eugene Y. Wang

Panel 1: Transmission, Exchange, and Diffusion: Insights from Tibet, China, and Sogdiana

Paper 1: The Eastern and Western Systems of Bronze Handle-Mirrors in Tibet and Their Cultural Diffusion and Exchanges
by Wei Huo (Sichuan University)

Abstract: Several archaeological bronze handle-mirrors have been found in Tibet, amongst other heirlooms unearthed in recent years. These bronze mirrors reflect the multifaceted cultural interactions between neighboring archaeological cultures and Tibetan civilization during its early development. These Tibetan handle-mirrors can be categorized into two systems: the Eastern and the Western, each with its own characteristics in terms of temporal and spatial distribution. Bronze handle-mirrors have been found in archaeological cultures in the Eurasian steppe to the north, and in South Asia and Central Asia during the Bronze Age; meanwhile, bronze handle-mirrors in varied forms have also been popular in Southwest and Northwest China. Behind temporal and spatial distributions of these bronze handle-mirrors lies the historical background of the extensive mobility and interaction among different people groups on the Tibetan Plateau and through the “Plateau Silk Road.” This also provides a vivid example of the long-distance, cross-regional interaction among archaeological cultures in different regions from the Bronze Age to the early Iron Age.

Paper 2: How to Deal with Buddhist Criminals in China and Tibet?
by Cuilan Liu (University of Pittsburgh)

Abstract: In the Buddhist text, Ten Wheels Sūtra, we find a discussion on governance between the Buddha and Devagarbha. The Buddha expressed the idea that “the yellow jade orchid may wither, yet it is still better than other flowers; Buddhist monks may misbehave, or break their monastic vows, yet they are still better than all the non-Buddhists.” This paper discusses how this idea originated in Indian Buddhism and was received in China and Tibet, where Buddhists continued to engage in the attempt to secure clerical privileges for ordained Buddhist monks and nuns.

Paper 3: The Artistic Production of the Sogdians in China: New Researches and Identifications
by Matteo Compareti (Capital Normal University, Beijing)

Abstract: Among the greatest achievements in Chinese archaeology of the last twenty-five years, the excavation of so-called Sino-Sogdian funerary monuments stands apart. The name “Sino-Sogdian art” points at a group of graves that belonged to powerful foreigners of Iranian origins who had migrated from Central Asia to settle down in northern China mainly during the sixth century CE. Such foreigners came from Sogdiana, a historical region of Central Asia whose inhabitants spoke an eastern Iranian language and professed a local form of Zoroastrianism called in Chinese sources “Xian” religion. Historical Sogdiana corresponds, more or less, to modern southern Uzbekistan and western Tajikistan. Most of the information about the Sogdians in the motherland and abroad appears in Chinese written sources of the Sui-Tang period. However, Sino-Sogdian funerary monuments present, sometimes, bilingual epitaphs in Chinese and Sogdian. This is not very common since, usually, Sino-Sogdian monuments only present epitaphs in Chinese. In the case of graves scientifically investigated, epitaphs are very common although there are also cases of tombs robbed in recent times whose dispersed outfits are irremediably lost. Unfortunately, not all Sino-Sogdian funerary monuments have been scientifically excavated. For this reason, the activity of Chinese archaeologists in this specific field of study not only allowed them to find new Sino-Sogdian graves but also included in the same group illegally excavated specimens that are now in China or abroad in public or private collections. The study of Sino-Sogdian funerary monuments greatly improved our knowledge about the culture, art and religion of the Sogdians in Central Asia and the colonies along the so-called Silk Road trade network that extended practically everywhere in the ancient world. Sino-Sogdian funerary monuments represent a new field of study that immediately caught the attention of specialists from all over the world. In fact, decorations on the funerary couches or stone houses (sometimes improperly called “sarcophagi”) of this unique group of graves present the tomb occupants and his retinue performing specific rituals and activities reflecting aspects of the Sogdian culture and religion that were irremediably lost after the conversion to Islam of the entire Central Asian region during the eighth-ninth centuries. Even Sogdian deities appear in some cases although their identification still presents several problems. In this paper, I would like to call attention to problematic deities and religious scenes whose identification has been puzzling scholars for a long time.

Panel 2: Sculpting Faith, Painting Devotion: Buddhist Narratives, Visual Transmissions from South to East Asia

Paper 1: Sāma/Syama Jataka in China: Focus on the Dazu Rock carving
by Ling Li (Sichuan University)

Abstract: The story of Sāma has been known to Chinese since about the third century A.D. through the spread of Buddhism. Sāma images start from the far west of China — Xinjiang, where Buddhism first came to China — and head east to Dunhuang; they date from the 4th and 5th centuries to the 7th century. The images are very typical and highly recognizable, inheriting a type that has been fixed since Sanchi stūpa in the first century B.C. However, around the 7th and 8th centuries, another kind of filial son image appeared in Dunhuang and Sichuan: the image of carrying parents on the shoulder, which was considered to be a pagan image (a son of brahmin), and appeared in the “Spurious scriptures”: Bao En Jing (报恩经, to repay the parents upbringing), which compiled by the Chinese. As a matter of fact, the author has found that Sāma’s second type in the Buddhist context, was first seen in Cave 17 at Ajanta in India (around 5th century A.D.). Later, however, this kind of type, which was widely popular in South India, changed its context and returned to an image in Ramayana. In today’s Rama festival in India, people imitate filial son Sāma by carrying their parents on their shoulders.This raises the question: Why the second type of Sāma been used by Chinese people as an image of the pagan — the opposite of Buddhism — since the eighth century or so? The reason, I think, is that the second type of Sāma that Chinese people recognize is not in the Buddhist context, but in the Rama stories that spread across Southeast Asia, so that the filial son is no longer regarded as an image in Buddhism but a pagan.

Paper 2: Paintings Relevant to Visualization in the National Museum, New Delhi
by Nobuyoshi Yamabe (Waseda University)

Abstract: The National Museum, New Delhi holds a considerable portion of the Stein Collection, but this portion has been less studied than its counterpart in London (stored in the British Museum and the British Library). Since I was allowed to photograph some of the paintings relevant to visualization, I would like to discuss a few representative ones in this presentation. This presentation focuses on two subjects. One is a tiny but significant fragment of an inscribed mural painting of a visualizing monk from a cave at Toyok, Turfan. This fragment has been noted by Miyaji Akira as being a key to interpreting similar paintings without inscriptions in other caves at the same site. However, due to recent excavations, now we have a much more comprehensive picture of this important cave site. I would like to reexamine the significance of this fragment in light of new findings there. The next subject is numerous cloth paintings from Dunhuang that depict scenes of Amitāyus Visualization Sūtra. In my former articles, I discuss several paintings on this sūtra and point out a few significant deviations in these paintings from the content of the sūtra. But my former discussions did not cover Pure Land paintings in the National Museum. So, on this occasion, I would like to examine some of them and point out a few noteworthy features. Through my study of these paintings, I hope to shed light on the relationship among the paintings, the practice of visualization, and the practice of the painters.

Paper 3: The Art of Buddha Legend from Gandhara to China: Insights from Recent Archaeological Discoveries
by Xuecheng Shao (Shanghai International Studies Academy) & Yitian Dai (Wenzhou University)

Abstract: The Buddha legend, one of the most beloved subjects in Buddhist art, has notably flourished in the early Buddhist art of Gandhara and China. It undoubtedly serves as a crucial gateway for exploring the cultural exchanges along the ancient Silk Road. This paper commences with an examination of a newly unearthed relief carving discovered at the Buddhist site of Khum Zargar in Kapisa, Afghanistan. Drawing upon iconographic features and relevant Buddhist texts, the authors identify scenes depicting the life transitions and miraculous moments of Sakyamuni, from his asceticism to Maravijaya after his great departure. Notably, the recently discovered depiction of Sakyamuni bathing in the Nairanjana River, found in the carving piece, complements missing episodes of the Buddha legends. This particular portrayal has also been observed in other Buddhist sites in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and China. A comparative study reveals that the art of Gandharan Buddha Legends not only exhibits close similarities and connections with those of China but also suggests that archaeological evidence indicates the influence of Sasanian culture in these regions. Consequently, the depiction of Buddhist stories became more intricate and varied, with certain scenes intentionally emphasized.

Panel 3: Unveiling Tibetan Antiquity: Rituals, Civilizations, and Cultural Crossroads

Paper 1: How to Think About the Zhang Zhung Polity of Far West Tibet and Its Contemporaries to the East
by Mark Aldenderfer (University of California Merced)

Abstract: For many practitioners of Yungdrung Bon, the existence of a civilization called Zhang Zhung as the center and focal point of belief is an unquestionable reality. Chinese documents of the 7th and 8th C CE attest to the presence of a complex society as a center of power in the badlands of western Tibet in what is now Ngari Prefecture of the Tibet Autonomous Region. Although these documents do not name a specific site as the seat of political power of the polity, some Tibetologists and archaeologists believe that it is the so-called “Silver Palace” described by Giuseppe Tucci, found near the modern village of Kyunglung along the banks of the Sutlej River. Others have suggested it is a site called Khardong, also known as Khyung-lung dngul-mkhar, upriver from the palace. But archaeological discoveries during the past 20 years by teams of Chinese archaeologists have shown that there are other important sites in the region, many of which have gold, textiles, and other objects imported from Central Asia, China, and beyond. These studies have significantly expanded our understanding of Zhang Zhung, but more remains to be considered. This paper seeks to place these recent findings into a larger context, one derived from standard archaeological indices of social and political complexity. Using data from both residential sites such as Khardong, Dindun, and Gebusailu, and mortuary sites including Gurygyam, Gelintang, Sasontang, Area V, Chuvthag, Sangsdar Lungmgo, and Kaji, I will explore what evidence exists to define settlement and social hierarchies within the region we currently believe may be the Zhang Zhung polity. I will also compare the evidence from these sites to contemporary archaeological sites and their polities in central Tibet and China. My goal in this conversation will be to provide an anthropological understanding of the economic, political, and social exchanges and relationships of these polities before the collapse of the Zhang Zhung polity in the 7th C. CE.

Paper 2: Out of the Caves and Into the Trees: Towards a Phylomemetic Reconstruction of Tibetan Ritual Traditions
by Charles Ramble (EPHE-PSL, CRCAO Paris)

Abstract: Parts of the Western Himalayas and Southwest Tibet are the site of long-abandoned cave systems. These complexes, some of which were created as long ago as the second millennium BCE, were originally dwelling places that were later used for other purposes – as burial sites, for example, and later as hermitages for Buddhist and Bonpo ascetics. While we know very little about the people who used these caves, archaeological excavations have found artifacts that may provide important clues about the religious beliefs and practices associated with them. The use of gold masks in burials, for example, is reminiscent of funerary practices in Iran and even further west, while at the same time (as Samten Karmay has noted) recalling aspects of present-day Bonpo death rituals. What appear to be traces of another ritual still performed by Buddhists and Bonpos have been discovered in highland Nepal by Mark Aldenderfer. The site in question, a cave containing numerous human skeletons, has elements that recall rituals for the destruction of vampires, a class of demons believed to prey on the bodies of the living and the souls of the dead. There is a large number of Tibetan texts containing myths relating to this class of ritual, but the relationship between these variants and the different traditions they represent is not known. Understanding the interconnection between these and other indigenous rituals and their transmission across the plateau and through the Himalayas can be greatly assisted by computer methods. While there is no question of retracing their transmission by means of classical stemmatology, it is possible to represent the relationship between the variants by applying phylomemetic distance methods that can reconstruct both networks and unrooted trees. These methods, which have been successfully applied to European folktales, notably the story of Little Red Riding Hood, may help us to understand the development and distribution of the archaic mythic traditions of Tibet and adjacent areas.

Paper 3: The Rise and Fall of Zhang Zhung Civilization: An Archeological Perspective
by Shuai Li (Harvard University)

Abstract: Zhang Zhung, located in western Tibet, is often depicted as an “Atlantis”-like mysterious kingdom with a long history, expansive territory, unique language, and advanced religion, having connections with neighboring civilizations such as Persia. However, the conception of “Zhang Zhung” based on limited and sometimes heavily religiously-biased documentary materials remains enigmatic, lacking credible historical evidence. This report, grounded in the latest archaeological data from western Tibet, establishes a long-term chronological framework and cultural sequence for the area. Based on this, the transitions of the Zhang Zhung society are divided into three stages: the formation of regional cultural communities, the emergence of social complexity and political entities, and the decline and integration of regional culture, roughly outlining the rise and fall of Zhang Zhung. The rise of Zhang Zhung is closely related to neighboring civilizations, while its decline is the result of the integration of civilizations within the plateau.

Panel 4: Navigating Celestial Bodies: Astrology, Cosmology, and Artistic Expression

Paper 1: Cosmological and Material Entanglements: The Perso-Iranian World Eastwards
by Matthew P. Canepa (University of California)

Abstract: This paper explores the construction of Iranian imperial cosmologies within a broader Asian context. It puts particular focus on the Sasanian dynasty of Iran (224-651) and the means by which it inculcated their imperial vision spatially, ritually, and visually into their empire and beyond. Drawing from ongoing work, it also explores the role of Perso-Iranian traditions as a broader lingua franca catalyzing changes further east. Counterbalancing more textually based accounts, it focuses on the impact of Perso-Iranian visual and material culture on China and their role in connecting together a broader swath of Central and East Asia beyond the direct contact with Iran. While other papers will more directly discuss the role of Sogdian communities in China, this paper considers broader Iranian traditions within China as well.

Paper 2: Spatial Aspects of Tangut and Chinese Horoscopic Art
by Michelle McCoy (University of Pittsburgh)

Abstract: What effect did the circulation of horoscopic astrology into eastern Eurasia have on the conception and representation of space? How were common horoscopic concepts like aspect, ascendant, and triplicity understood or interpreted visually? This paper addresses these questions by examining two forms of astrological painting found in the Tangut ruins of Kharakhoto, both datable to roughly the twelfth century: a group of votive tableaus depicting the Effulgent Buddha’s assembly and a set of painted horoscopic cards. Drawing on a shared corpus of astral deities, each type of painting manifests a seemingly distinct approach to their ordering and appeasement. Considering these works in dialogue with divination and devotional texts, I argue that they demonstrate a fundamental shift in the spatial aspect of Tangut and Chinese horoscopes. This shift parallels the translations from a nested-spheres episteme of Hellenistic astrology into the computational domain of the eastern Eurasian divination board or the ritual space of the tantric Buddhist mandala. These materials therefore shed light on how basic features of the horoscope changed even as it became central to fate prognostication.

Paper 3: How Many Planets Were There? The Five, Seven, Eight, Nine, and Eleven Planets in China
by Jeffrey Kotyk (University of Bologna)

Abstract: China independently discovered the systematic motions of the visible planets (Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, and Mercury) in ancient times, leading to a reckoning of five or seven (the latter includes the Sun and the Moon). Buddhism then introduced two sets of planets: those of eight and nine planets. The set of nine (navagraha) became a significant part of Buddhist iconography, in which we see the typical seven plus Rāhu and Ketu, who are figures associated with eclipses and comets. The planets as deified anthropomorphic figures are first seen in maṇḍalas from the eighth century, but their iconography changes considerably in subsequent generations due to a variety of foreign, apparently Iranian, influences. Later, Buddhism and Daoism adopt a model of eleven planets: the navagraha plus Yuebei and Ziqi, two curious pseudo-planets who are otherwise unknown in astrology elsewhere in the world. These figures appear in a variety of extant paintings not only in China, but also in Tangut Xixia and Japan. This presentation will examine the complex intercultural interactions that introduced these icons to China and further shaped them.

Panel 5: Rock as Canvas: Pictorial Expressions of Divinity in Cliffs and Manmade Grottoes

Paper 1: Cave Temples of Kucha: From the Order of Murals to Their Meaning
by Monika Zin (University of Leipzig)

Abstract: Those premises of the Buddhist monastery complexes of Kucha used only by monastic persons — such as lecture halls, dormitories or small rooms for individual meditation — were not decorated with murals. It appears therefore that the painted temples may have rather been set up to serve the visitors, although they could of course also be used by resident monks or nuns. Most of these temples are so-called “central pillar caves” — small spaces of roughly 20 m 2, enough for a family to visit, but no more. Although there are no two identical interiors, their pictorial programs resemble each other, particularly in their placement within the architecture: images of the same stories appear in the same locations, paintings designed in the same way appear on the same walls. It is obvious that this is an intentional reproduction, not unlike the conscious avoidance of Mahayana topics and the deliberate imitation of South Asian models. A feeling emerges that we are facing an otherness purposefully cultivated by the Kucha-based Tocharians to set them apart from the other peoples in the area. About the actual function of the cave temples of Kucha very little is known, even after more than 100 years of research. Although recent studies show the importance of apotropaic themes, the decorated interiors, by all accounts, mainly served to create a religious experience, very probably connected with rituals or instruction by a monastic person. The architectural setting and the arrangement of the paintings suggest the rituals in question may have been related to a good rebirth — perhaps of a deceased family member?

Paper 2: Dhāraṇī, Meditation, and Mara’s Deeds: A Reinterpretation of Dunhuang Cave 285
by Sophie Xiaofei Lei (Harvard University)

Abstract: This paper attempts to provide an alternative reading of the pictorial program in Cave 285 based on one of the earliest and most popular dharani scriptures at the time of 285’s construction, the Dafangdeng Tuoluoni Jing (or “The Great Vaipulya Dharani Sutra”), in light of a critical connection made by He Shizhe between the eight buddhas depicted on the North Wall and the eight buddhas mentioned in the Dafangdeng. Both the contents and, less discernibly yet equally critically, the spatial arrangement of the five narratives on the south wall can be rationalized in a similar way based on these two essential themes: the elimination of sins, regardless of one’s past, and maintenance of the precepts in the Dafangdeng. This paper further connects the intention of displaying the efficacy of dharani with repentance and protection, as reinforced by the merit-dedicatory inscriptions on the north wall, the profusion of meditating figures throughout the cave, and the tumultuous movements of non-humans across the ceiling. As the very first attempt to examine the program of Cave 285 within the context of contemporaneous practices and perceptions of dharani, this paper marks the beginning of an attempt to answer the larger question of how to visualize dharani, which is another way of asking how the act of holding a thought can be visualized.

Paper 3: An Investigation on the Tibetan Buddhist Cliff Carvings in Suyu and Ruqi Valley of Helan Mountain
by Jisheng Xie (Zhejiang University)

Abstract: This presentation focuses on several oversized Tibetan Buddhist stone carvings on cliffs in locations such as Suyu Gou in Helan County, and Rujigou Huashi Cave in Pingluo County, Ningxia. The two valleys with cliff carvings serve as significant transportation passages connecting the Ningxia Plain and Inner Mongolia’s Alashan Grassland. These rock carvings, dating roughly from the Kangxi to Qianlong periods of the Qing Dynasty, may be associated with the spread of Tibetan Buddhism in the Alashan region, especially with the faith in the propagation and passing away of the Sixth Dalai Lama among local resident in the Alashan Grassland. It is also closely related to legends about Upàsaka Dharmdala and the Helan Mountains. Additionally, this presentation discusses the personal experiences of Lha btsun Ngag dbang rdo rje, the transmission of Secret Biography of Tshangs dbyangs rGya mtso, and the establishment of Guangzong Monastery (dGa’ ldan bstan rgyas gling in Tibetan and Guangzong or Nansi in Chinese). In terms of iconography, the research concerns the dissemination of the “Rigs gsum mgon po ” theme in Tibetan Buddhism in western Inner Mongolia and the fusion of early Qing Dynasty Han-Tibetan-Mongol beliefs in Amitabha and Avalokiteshvara.

Panel 6: Mortality and Transcendence: Relationships Among Stupa, Funerary Practices, and Monastic Planning

Paper 1: Large-Scale Burials from the Tubo Period in the Northern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau
by Tao Tong (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences)

Abstract: In recent years, archaeological work on the northern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau has yielded fruitful results. Several Large-Scale Burials from the Tubo period, possibly owing to the Tuyuhun kings, enfeoffed by the Tubo regime, have firstly been uncovered scientifically, including two huge burials at the Reshui cemetery in Dulan County, and two huge burials at Quangou cemetery in Wulan County, Qinghai Province. The inscribed Tibetan seals yielded from the burials proved that the tomb occupants were Tuyuhun aristocrats subordinated by Tubo. The orthodox Tuyuhun’s King, after the kingdom was taken by Tubo in 663, had to escape to the Tang territory to seek political asylum. One of his sons, Xi King, was buried in the Gansu Corridor neighboring the Qinghai Province. His tomb, the only intact one survived from robberies, was discovered in 2019. The different destinies of the split Tuyuhun people led to different cultural characteristics, which are fully reflected in their burial structures, artifacts, and customs. Through observation and analysis of the shapes of relevant tombs and various unearthed relics, this topic attempts to provide some preliminary answers to questions related to the historic relationship between Tuyuhun and Tubo, the ethnicities and cultural expressions of different tombs, as well as the transportation channels for interregional cultural exchanges on the Qinghai Silk Roads.

Paper 2: Votive Stupas: Merit or Tomb? An Examination of Function and Significance from Ancient India to China
by Chai Yee Leow (Harvard University)

Abstract: The stupa, a quintessential symbol in Buddhist architecture, stands as a monumental testament to the faith’s early transmission and evolution. Serving as the primary edifice for worship, the stupa’s significance in the Buddhist landscape is undeniable. However, while the central stupa often becomes the focal point of discussions and admiration, its surrounding subsidiary stupas, often overshadowed, warrant a deeper exploration. Today, these subsidiary stupas are predominantly referred to as ‘votive stupas’. In a more literary context, they are termed ex-voto stupas, signifying stupas that are erected as a gesture of fulfilling a vow or promise. A cursory observation might lead one to believe that most, if not all, smaller stupas encircling the primary stupa fall under this categorization. However, this paper challenges this prevailing notion. I posit that the label ‘votive stupa’ might be an oversimplification, potentially overlooking the monument’s diverse primary functions. These functions span from serving as burial sites and commemorating significant events or figures to consecrating sacred spaces. Delving deeper into the Chinese context, this research seeks to unearth the potential evolved forms of the ‘subsidiary stupa’ within China’s vast and varied landscape. By doing so, the aim is to shed light on its multifaceted role and significance, which might have been adapted or transformed based on regional influences and needs.

Paper 3: Fondukistan: The Monastery, the Stupa, and the Prince
by Deborah Klimburg-Salter (University of Vienna)

Abstract: Fondukistan, ca. 800 CE is situated on the main route connecting the pilgrimage and ceremonial center in the Bamiyan Valley and Kapisa/Kabul, the capital and administrative center of the Shahi Kingdom. Fondukistan has long been famous for the extraordinary beauty and elegance of the clay sculptures represented in a regional variant of the “Tang International Style.” The diverse images formed sculptural groups placed within the niches surrounding the stupa in the main courtyard of the monastery. It will be demonstrated that Fondukistan introduces an entirely new monastic plan which includes a unique stupa courtyard, the only part of the complex accessible to the lay community. The key to the meaning and importance of the small monastery are the two unique 3/4 life-sized painted clay sculptures, until now wrongly identified as a “princely couple,” strategically placed in niche “E” on the circumambulation path around the stupa.