Kucha was one of the major political powers and cultural centers along the ancient Silk Road, home to a great number of Buddhist cave temples that have survived from the time of their creation sometime between the third century and the eighth. Although they are not as well-known as their counterparts in Dunhuang, the complexes at Kizil and Kumutra, among others, have preserved equally invaluable material evidence of the vibrant interchange of goods, ideas, and cultural practices that took place across the entire region in the first millennium. These sites represent the crucial link with the artistic traditions of Gandhara, India, and Persia in explicating the Chinese adaptation of a complex, foreign visual culture through the introduction of Buddhism. This essay reviews a number of significant publications on the art and archaeology of Kucha that have appeared in the past decade. Marking one of the notable trends in Asian studies today, the remarkable growth in Kucha scholarship has been facilitated in one way or another by the opening of China's Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region to the outside world. The review focuses on the compilations of source materials, reception and collection histories, and interpretative studies of source materials, examining each of these three areas within their proper historical and historiographical contexts. An extensive review of Archaeological and Visual Sources of Meditation in the Ancient Monasteries of Kuča (2015) by Angela F. Howard and Giuseppe Vignato appears in the last section of the essay.
Archives of Asian Art – Duke University Press
Published: Oct 1, 2018