An Afternoon of Presentations and Discussion
During the first millennium AD, the oasis kingdom of Kucha in present-day Xinjiang (China) was a center of Buddhist learning in Central Asia. The Kucha ruling élite sponsored the construction of several Buddhist cave temple complexes, which, though ravaged by destruction, can still be seen today and rank among the most evocative art-historical monuments along the Silk Routes. The art-historical importance of these temples with their unique blend of influences from various parts of Eurasia was first realized in the wake of foreign expeditions in the early years of the 20th century. Today, the Chinese government has entrusted the care of these sites—chief among them Kizil, Simsim, Kumtura, and Kizilgarha—to a research institution headquartered at Kizil that, earlier this year, was raised to the status of an academy. The Kizil Academy is very interested in setting up an “International Kucha Project,” which, if current efforts are successful, may be inaugurated soon with Yale University as its institutional base.
The Central Asia Initiative of UCLA’s Asia Institute in cooperation with the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA would like to take advantage of an upcoming visit by Professor Mimi Yiengpruksawan (Art History, Yale University) to Los Angeles to convoke an afternoon-long meeting devoted to the art and history of the Buddhist cave temples of the Kucha region, organized by Prof. Lothar von Falkenhausen (Art History, UCLA). Presentations on the Kucha caves will be given by Professor Yiengpruksawan and several other scholars who have visited Kucha (detailed schedule to be announced); but its main purpose is to discuss the plans for an International Kucha Project with West Coast-based colleagues in various institutions and disciplines in order to sound out interest in possible collaboration, suggestions for what the project might achieve, and opinions on how it should be set up.
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Lothar Von Falkenhausen
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