Accepted paper:

Buddhist art and rock art in Central Asia


Ikuko Nakagawara (Nagoya University)

Paper short abstract:

By analysing the animal expressions depicted in Buddhist art and rock carvings in Central Asia, we will examines the historical interchanges which have existed between pastoralists and oasis dwellers and the deep influences that the pastoralist nomad culture has given to Buddhist art.

Paper long abstract:

The Kizil Caves is a Buddhist rock-cut Caves located in Baicheng Country, Xinjiang, China. This area was under the rule of ancient Qiuci Kingdom and a commercial hub of the Silk Road. The subject of the wall paintings is mainly Buddhist stories. Of which, Jātakas and Avadānas were mostly painted on a barrel vault of the central-pillar-caves that forms the background for them and indicates Mt Sumeru said to be the highest mountain rising in the centre of the world. Past several studies have been made on the analyses of mountain's shape and its source. It goes without saying that those paintings have been made based on Buddhist doctrine, but little attention has been given to a lot of elements which cannot explain by Buddhist context. We will begin our discussion by analysing the animal expressions depicted in the mountain landscape of the Kizil Caves. There are many kinds of wild or domestic animals, for example, antelopes, gazelles, camels, cows, horses and so on. These are very similar to the animals depicted on rock art in Central Asia as well. In view of this fact, the animals of the Kizil caves express not only numerous previous lives of Syakyamuni, but also remains of memories which ancient nomadic people had been living a life of hunting and gathering in mountain forested steppe. It shows that the interchange between nomads and oasis dwellers existed in history as well as the nomadic culture had any deep influence on the Buddhist Art.

panel P109
Afro-Eurasian inner dry land civilization