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Title: Embracing the Circle: Domical Buildings in East Asian Architecture ca. 200-750
Authors: Hu, Jun
Advisors: Silbergeld, Jerome
Contributors: Art and Archaeology Department
Subjects: Art history
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation reconceptualizes the notion of built environment against the religious culture of East Asia in the early medieval period. Through a study of domical building forms in brick, cave and timber, the author argues, as interior devices domical forms are central to the architectural tradition of East Asia in the creation of sacral spaces. At the heart of this dissertation are three significant case studies which transcend religious and national boundaries. Starting with Buddhist cave temples preserved at Dunhuang in northwestern China, the author probes into the beginning and early permutations of a particular cave type (fifth through the late sixth centuries), which, despite its square plan, evinces artistic endeavors, plastic and painterly, to inscribe a domed circular space within the square. The next case study takes place in eighth-century Nara, then the newly established capital of Japan, where the earliest timber "circular" buildings on record are found, with the qualification that they are, in fact, octagonal in plan and yet are almost unanimously considered circular in contemporaneous documents. Finally, larger issues pertaining to technology, ideology, and the domical form are explored in the contexts of mortuary and ritual buildings in China. On the one hand, the author charts technological advancement in brick construction which laid the ground for the emergence of a complete cosmos in Chinese tombs at the dawn of the Common Era. In the meantime, however, discussions of the series of failed attempts to construct the domical ritual structure of the Bright Hall from this period onwards reveal a case of how excessive expectations on the dome's capacity to signify undermined its own realization in material form. These three case studies, viewed jointly, also afford a picture of the material culture of religious practice in East Asia in this period. Architectural forms are shown to be no mere physical spaces in which religious images are placed. Rather, as representations and enclosures, they enjoyed a meaning and status equivalent to their pictorial or sculptural counterparts.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Art and Archaeology

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