In Search of China’s Soul: Mount Wutai, Buddhist Sacred Geography, and the Bodhisattva of Wisdom
Where: China Institute
100 Washington St.
212-744-8181 Price: $10
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The northern Chinese mountain range of Mount Wutai has been an important site of international pilgrimage for over a millennium. Home to more than one hundred temples, the entire range is considered a Buddhist paradise on earth, and has received visitors ranging from emperors to monastic and lay devotees. On May 16, join art historian Wen-shing Chou and preeminent Sino-Tibet expert Gray Tuttle to explore the changing meaning and significance of one of the world’s greatest religious sites. The event is held in conjunction with China Institute’s current gallery exhibition, Art of the Mountain: Through the Chinese Photographer’s Lens, and will celebrate the launch of Chou’s new book, Mount Wutai: Visions of a Sacred Buddhist Mountain.
Wen-Shing Chou is Assistant Professor of art history at Hunter College, City University of New York. She specializes in Buddhist art of China and the Himalayas. Chou’s research focuses on the relationship between religion and empiricism in early modern and modern periods, and the intersection of history, geography, and biography in Buddhist traditions. Mount Wutai explores the rich history of the holy mountain at the nexus of imperial expansion, cultural exchange, and religious devotion in Qing China.
Gray Tuttle is the Leila Hadley Luce Associate Professor of Modern Tibetan Studies at Columbia University. He studies the history of twentieth century Sino-Tibet relations as well as Tibet’s relations with the China-based Manchu Qing Empire. The role of Tibetan Buddhism in these historical relations is central to all his research. In Tibetan Buddhists in the Making of Modern China, he examines the failure of nationalism and race-based ideology to maintain the Tibetan territory of the former Qing Empire as integral to the Chinese nation-state. Instead, he argues, a new sense of pan-Asian Buddhism was critical to Chinese efforts to hold onto Tibetan regions (one quarter of China’s current territory). His current research project, Amdo Tibet, Middle Ground between Lhasa and Beijing (1578-1865), is a historical analysis of the economic and cultural relations between China and Tibet in the early modern periods (16th – 19th centuries), when the intellectual and economic centers of Tibet shifted to the east, to Amdo — a Tibetan cultural region the size of France in northwestern China.Buy tickets/get more info now