Buddhist Visual Cultures, Rhetoric, and Narrative in Late Burmese Wall Paintings

Buddhist Visual Cultures, Rhetoric, and Narrative in Late Burmese Wall Paintings

by Alexandra Green


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Step into a Burmese temple built between the late seventeenth and early nineteenth centuries and you are surrounded by a riot of color and imagery. The majority of the highly detailed wall paintings displays Buddhist biographical narratives, inspiring the devotees to follow the Buddha’s teachings. Alexandra Green goes one step further to consider the temples and their contents as a whole, arguing that the wall paintings mediate the relationship between the architecture and the main Buddha statues in the temples. This forges a unified space for the devotees to interact with the Buddha and his community, with the aim of transforming the devotees’ current and future lives. These temples were a cohesively articulated and represented Burmese Buddhist world to which the devotees belonged. Green’s visits to more than 160 sites with identifiable subject matter form the basis of this richly illustrated volume, which draws upon art historical, anthropological, and religious studies methodologies to analyze the wall paintings and elucidate the contemporary religious, political, and social concepts that drove the creation of this lively art form.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9789888390885
Publisher: Hong Kong University Press
Publication date: 04/03/2018
Pages: 248
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 10.10(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Alexandra Green is Henry Ginsburg Curator for Southeast Asia at the British Museum. She is the editor of Rethinking Visual Narratives from Asia Intercultural and Comparative Perspectives (2013).

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments viii

Introduction 1

1 A Formula to Honor the Buddha 25

2 Presence and Memory: Commemoration of the Buddha 60

3 Art as Action: Representation as Ritual 108

4 Word and Image: Expanding Vernacular Narratives 161

Conclusion 190

Appendix of Late Sites 201

Glossary 205

Bibliography 209

Index 228

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