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How the Buddha Became Chinese

Exporting Enlightenment

Wednesday, June 19, 2013
8:00 PM–9:30 PM

Presented in association with China Institute
The origins of Buddhist devotional art can be traced to its roots in India, but images and doctrine were transmitted by monks as they travelled with merchant caravans across the dangerous deserts of Central Asia on the ancient silk roads. The image of the Buddha was transformed and assimilated in China as the foreign religion of Buddhism encountered the rich and potent traditions of the Chinese cosmological past. Susan Beningson explores the introduction of Buddhism into China, the evolution of the Buddha image, and how these images may have been used in ritual worship.
This richly illustrated keytalk is part of Exporting Enlightenment, a ten-part series over the summer that traces the spread of Buddhism and Hinduism along these cultural and trade trajectories. For the full series that accompanies the exhibition From India East see

About the Speaker

Susan L. Beningson, PhD,is Assistant Curator of Asian Art at the Brooklyn Museum. Her role is to oversee the institution’s overhauling of its permanent collection galleries of Asian and Islamic art, which are scheduled to reopen in 2015. She has taught at the City University of New York and Rutgers University and earned a doctorate in art history from Columbia University in 2009.
Image: Seated Buddha Shakyamuni Northern China; Liao Dynasty, 965 – 1025 Gilt Bronze Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Asian Art Council in memory of Mahmood T. Diba; Mary Smith Doward Fund, 1999.42