Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Longmen Grottoes

Today in my Buddhist Art course we discussed the Longmen Grottoes.  This group of carved Buddhist figures dates from between the fourth and tenth centuries; we focused on the Binyang cave of the early 6th century (522-23) and the Vairocana of the 670s (below from my visit in 2006). The best part of teaching this type of art history at KCAI is the proximity to the Nelson-Atkins. After talking about the Binyang Cave, we took a quick walk across the street to the museum to see part of the carvings that are on display at the museum. Seeing the large stone reliefs of the Empress procession (which is a small section of one of the walls of carvings) is such a great experience for the students- it gives a sense of scale that is impossible to convey through photographs, and allows us to really examine the style and technique of the work. It also led to some interesting conversations about how the reliefs were removed from the cave, and about the ethics of cultural objects being removed from their original context.


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