Arts and Culture
The art produced at the Mongol court is often characterized by its foreignness because it utilized craftsmen, materials, and technologies from across Eurasia. Scholars of Yuan architecture have instead tended to highlight the Mongol emperors’ adoption of traditional Chinese building practices as a means of proving legitimacy to their rule in China, especially with regard to city planning in the capital, Dadu. This paper will reconsider “foreign” contributions to the architecture of the Yuan court by focusing on the Cloud Platform at Juyong Pass, a city gate located to the north of Dadu. This monument is best known for its elaborate Tibetan Buddhist relief carvings and multi-lingual inscriptions on the interior of the arch. These inscriptions explain that the monument was originally crowned with three Tibetan-style stupas and provide rich details about the historical, religious, and political concerns surrounding their creation. Drawing heavily on close readings of these inscriptions, this paper will argue that the establishment of the stupa monument at Juyong Pass and stupas elsewhere in the Yuan capital were central to the fabrication Mongol imperial power, particularly of the last emperor of the Yuan dynasty, Toghon Temür.