Stephen F. Teiser. Reinventing the Wheel: Paintings of Rebirth in Medieval Buddhist Temples. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2007. 336 pp.; 88 illustrations, 14 in color; 7 tables; glossary. Hardcover $60.00, Isbn 0295986492. In his most recent book, Reinventing the Wheel, Stephen Teiser investigates the "wheel of rebirth" (Sanskrit: samsaracakra, Chinese: shengsi lun ), which presents in visual form the Buddhist notion of the cyclical nature of life and death. Several differing versions of the wheel are closely examined in their literary and ritual contexts. Early literary sources concerning the wheel are scattered throughout the medieval Buddhist world. The canonical description, found in the vinaya literature of the Mulasarvastivada school, offers detailed instructions concerning the manner in which the wheel should be painted, the location in which it should be displayed, and its primary function as a teaching device for the laity. However, Teiser's own examination of extant versions of the wheel found in cave temples, meditation rooms, and pilgrimage sites yields a number of variations from this intended standard. Fieldwork and personal observations of surviving wheels in India, central Asia, and western China are used to compare existing wheels in their ritual settings to the officially sanctioned
China Review International – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Nov 28, 2008
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