Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Decoding Sogdian Funerary Art in China

Lecture:Decoding Sogdian Funerary Art in China: Politics, Religion, and Transculturation in the Sixth Century 
by Mandy Jui-man Wu, An Wang, Postdoctoral Fellow 
Location: CGIS South, Room S153, 1730 Cambridge Street, Harvard University

Some Sogdian merchants, craft workers, translators, and priests coming from Central Asia via the Silk Road, started to establish Sogdian communities in China around the third century CE. The newly excavated Sogdian tombs near Xi’an dating to the Northern Zhou period (557-581 CE) have led to a flurry of academic research. Dr. Wu will use the tomb of Kang Ye, a Zoroastrian priest, to show what Sogdian tombs can tell us about the society in which they lived. By examining the Chinese pictorial images decorating Kan Ye’s funerary furniture, which actually represent Zoroastrian death rituals, Dr. Wu will explore the political negotiation of cultural identity as a result of processes of transculturation in sixth-century China. Mandy Jui-Man Wu is currently an An Wang postdoctoral fellow at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies. She received her PhD in art history from University of Pittsburgh in 2010. Her current research rethinks the issues of power, constructed identities, and transculturation through examining mortuary art in sixth-century tombs in Northern China. She has published several articles, discussing issues such as gender roles in late Neolithic mortuary practices, the centrality of exotica to visual displays in Sui tombs, and remaining Sogdians in Eastern Asia in the six century. She is currently working on a book manuscript titled “Art, Power, and Identities: Hybridity in Mortuary Art in Sixth-Century Northern China.”

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