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The impact of imperial and local patronage on early Ming temples at the Sino-Tibetan frontier

By Aurelia Campbell


This dissertation concerns the architecture and material culture of a group of littleknown early Ming dynasty (1368–1644) Tibetan Buddhist temples along the border of present-day Gansu and Qinghai provinces at the Sino-Tibetan frontier. Investigated together, these temples are our most complete historical records of activity between the imperial capital and the northwestern periphery during the early Ming. They provide important new material for examining long-standing issues central to the field of Chinese art history regarding the dynamics among patronage, politics, and style. Drawing upon close readings of on-site inscriptions and detailed architectural analyses, I address three major problems. First, why did Ming emperors patronize monuments at the Sino-Tibetan frontier? Second, how did craftsmen, ideas, and practices move across political and cultural boundaries during this time? Third, how did these buildings meet the religious and practical demands of their immediate environment? I argue that architecturally these temples need to be understood within two different contexts: (1) as case studies in the stylistic effects of two contrasting types of patronage, imperial and local, and (2) as evidence of an early regional style that blends together traditional Chinese, Tibetan, and vernacular architectural forms. By bringing much needed academic attention to the architecture of the Ming dynasty, my dissertation makes an important contribution to scholarship on China’s architectural history

Topics: History|Asian Studies|Art history
Publisher: ScholarlyCommons
Year: 2011
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Provided by: ScholarlyCommons@Penn
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