China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
The study of Chinese Buddhist temples and pagodas has significantly enhanced our knowledge of East Asian architectural history in regard to building typologies, periodical styles and technological advances. However, it remains understudied how exactly the Buddhist buildings enforced a religious space in various historical, social, and spatial contexts. This panel inquires into the ways of producing Buddhist sacred space in cases ranging from architectural objects, temple halls, courtyard complex, to mountain landscapes in Medieval, Pre-Modern and Modern China. With a focus on the human-space relationship, we attempt to historicize the issue of architectural sacralization by investigating how Buddhist architectural space has been designed, built, utilized, and represent, as well as how such human activities have shaped their conceptions of the world. The four individual papers of this panel examine, respectively, the pictorial and structural programs in traditional Buddhist image halls, the meaning of miniaturization in early medieval stone pagodas, the relationship between architectural layouts and human receptions in Ming-Qing mountain monasteries, and, the social hierarchy embedded in monastery spaces in the early-twentieth century. By incorporating new analytical tools such as digital reconstructions and often-ignored materials such as anthropological surveys, we hope to bring forth a methodological revision and to widen the scope of Chinese architectural history.