VISUAL AND MATERIAL PERSPECTIVES ON EAST ASIA
MARCH 1 (Fri), 4-6pm, CWAC 156
Michelle C. Wang
Assistant Professor, Department of Art and Art History
“Getting at the Center of the Maṇḍala of Eight Bodhisattvas”
The Maṇḍala of Eight Bodhisattvas, an iconographic grouping consisting of eight bodhisattvas arranged around a central Buddha, is known as early in visual sources as the 6th century in India. Spread widely throughout Asia, most previous studies of the Maṇḍala of Eight Bodhisattvas have focused upon the identification of the eight bodhisattvas arranged around the central Buddha figure. My concern, however, lies with the identification of the central Buddha, which may range from the historical Buddha Śākyamuni to the cosmic Buddha Vairocana to Amitābha Buddha of the Western Pure Land. Focusing principally upon paintings from Dunhuang, particularly from the Tang Dynasty (618-907), my talk will also take into consideration corresponding material from elsewhere in Asia in order to question why there was such variation in the central Buddha of the Maṇḍala of Eight Bodhisattvas, and what the implications are for focusing our attention upon the center of the maṇḍala rather than on the attendant figures.
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